Photography News Issue 36

Photography News | Issue 36 | absolutephoto.com

52 First tests

Kenro Professional Travel Tripod Kit 202 £125

Specs

In the box Legs, ball head (accepts Arca Swiss plates), standard centre column, short centre column, carry case, strap Leg sections Four Material Magnesium aluminium alloy Standard centre column: 47cm Short centre column, legs fully splayed: 25cm Max load 12kg Folded length 47cm Weight 1.82kg with ball head and plate Contact kenro.co.uk Max height (withhead) Centre column up: 163cm Centre column down, 143cm Minworkingheight

While carbon-fibre tripods offer weight saving, that comes at a price so if you want the best value for your money, going for magnesium alloy model is the way to go. The Travel Tripod Kit 202 is a great example of what you can get without breaking the bank. For £125 you get a set of magnesium legs and an Arca Swiss-compatible ball head and a decent list of features too. Kenro calls it a travel tripod, a moniker that’s probably used rather too freely but to be fair it applies here. True, compared with something like a classic travel pod – for example, the Gitzo GT1555 – the Kenro is longer and heavier but it also gives a more useful higher working position. In other words, this Kenro is towards the top end of what might be deemed a travel tripod. Its legs do fold back on themselves for maximum compactness and so it should fit in most suitcases and even larger roller cases. The release for unlocking the legs is comfortable to use and legs fold back easily. One of the legs has a foam handgrip for carrying comfort especially when it’s cold and metal against bare skin can be decidedly painful. The foam grip also tells you that this leg is detachable and usable as a monopod. Once the leg is detached you need to remove the ball head and the plate that this sits on and transfer it to the lone leg to complete the monopod. It takes a few seconds and no tools are needed. The maximum working height of the monopod including the head is 143cm. My standing height is a pretty average 1.75m and fitting a 70-200mm lens to it meant I had to stoop or crouch down a little to get my eye to the viewfinder eyepiece. A prolonged shooting stint in this position could be a strain and even more so for taller photographers. I suppose you could use live view and a tilting monitor if you had a suitable camera. That said, as a nice extra to the tripod the monopod worked fine and gave a high level of support. While the monopod lacked height, the 202 with legs and the centre column fully extended

meant I couldn’t even get my eye to the viewfinder eyepiece, not even standing on tippy toes. A drop of about three inches was needed to allow a comfortable position – I know I could have used live view but I still prefer using a viewfinder. While I would only on occasion use a tripod in thismanner, especially if it was windy, it does illustrate that the 202 gives a very handy working range including a decently high camera position for a travel tripod. Legs are locked into position with twist grips that only have to be moderately tightened by hand to secure the legs firmly in position, and the legs slide in and out with a smooth actionbutwithoutbeingthesmoothest I’ve ever used. Each leg has the option of rubber or spiked feet and you choose with the simple expedient of rotating the rubber foot to either reveal or hide the spiked option. That’s great in that you don’t have to carry extra feet and have to swap them over as you venture from location to location but the downside, a tiny one, is that the spiked feet are very short. Stability at full extension is in fact very good. I shot using a Nikon D810 and 70-200mm f/2.8 with the lens tripod foot fitted with an Arca plate slipped into the 202’s ball head. Releasing the shutter manually (not recommended of course) I got down to 1/4sec with no shake. With a cable remote release I did some two minute exposures with a 16-35mm lens on a mildly breezy day with no problems. At the other extreme, the legs have three locked positions and that includes fully splayed out, so if you to want to shoot from a very low camera position, that is possible with this pod. With the supplied short centre column and the supplied ball head, you get a camera platform about 25cm off the ground. The ball head itself is a solid little unit and strong enough to hold the full-frame camera body/lens combinations I used for this test, even for upright shooting. A small locking knob secures the head’s rotating position while the larger knob secures the camera head. The only thing

The ball head is a solid little unit and perfectly strong enough to hold something like the camera body/lens combination I used for this test, even for upright shooting

missing really is an extra facility to control the ball head’s tension during use but then this feature usually comes at a price. The supplied plate can be finger- tightened but a hex key is advised for really secure fixing – there’s no coin slot. The plate slides into the head’s mounting platform easily and there is a very handy, easy-to-use push- button lock. This means when the plate is in position the camera and ball head stay together and can’t part company until the button is pushed in. I tried the head with a selection of ArcaSwiss compatibleplates and they all fitted no problem and the locking mechanismworked with them all. The head has two spirit levels and while one is tiny, both are visible from behind the tripod, so they’re convenient to use.

An impressive features list for the money and a decent performer too. While this Kenro is not the lightest nor the most compact travel tripod you’ll find, it does offer excellent stability, a good set of features and rates highly in the value for money stakes. Pros Build quality, spiked/rubber feet option, value, good stability Cons Nothing major but spiked feet are short. Same applies to the monopod I enjoyed using this Kenro Travel tripod. I didn’t travel to distant climes but it accompanied me on a few trips to the coast and on a couple of urban trips as well. The tripod worked perfectly well, nothing worked loose or dropped off during the fortnight test period, I didn’t manage to break anything and it provided stable support when called upon. My two minute exposures were at the coast when there was an onshore breeze, a constant wind as opposed to gusts, and I would have been confident to go for even longer with this pod The only notable issue I had was the first time on a sandy beach when I had the rubber feet in position and got sand into the foot mechanism which wasn’t good. A good rinse sorted that and the next time, I remembered to use the spiked feet. WC Verdict

The build quality of this Kenro travel tripod is very good and no complaints about the features on offer either.

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