Photography News 84 Web

First test

PRICE: £290

BENROEU.COM

Benro’s new range of braided carbon-fibre tripods features four models with VX ball heads. We test the top-of-the-range model Benro Rhino FRHN34C+VX30

SPECS ›  Price £290 Benro Rhino FRHN34C+VX30

›  In the box Tripod, VX30 ball head, quick-release plate, bag, 4mm allen key, spiked feet, ballast hook ›  Legsmaterial Carbon fibre, one leg detaches for a monopod › Load capacity 20kg ›  Closed length 49.4cm (reversed) 65.7cm (closed) › Leg sections Four › Leg locks Twist grips › Leg angles Three – 23°, 55°, 80° ›  Max height (no centre column) 144.8cm ›  Max height (with centre column and extended) 174.5cm › Monopodmax height 181.4cm › Monopodmin height 53cm › Max tube diameter 32.4mm › Min tube diameter 21.8mm ›  Min height 63cm (centre column in, legs in default position), 49.1cm (centre column in, legs splayed) ›  Bubble level On ball head ›  Weight 2.06kg ›  Head VX30 ›  Max load 20kg ›  Ball diameter 40mm ›  Weight 454g The ball head is a smooth performer, locking in place firmly. Again, this requires little effort and there’s no creep, even with a heavy camera and lens. There’s no extra friction control on the head, but the fine control of the locking knob makes it easy to adjust tension. A neat feature is the camera- mounting plate that can be rotated 360° with the ball head locked tight, so once levelled off and locked, you can shoot panoramas easily. The leg unscrews to become a handy monopod. With the ball head, you get a camera height of 1.4m (53cm retracted) and 1.81m with the centre column as well (this is 92cm retracted). WC ›  Plate fitting Arca-Swiss ›  Contact benroeu.com

BENRO IS A very respected name in the tripod market and its latest launch is the Rhino range, a four-strong series of carbon-fibre tripods and complementary ball heads, boasting features and thoughtful points of design that are aimed to attract keen photographers. The prices are competitive, too. The entry-level model, the five-section 05C with the VX20 ball head, retails at £200, while the top-of- the-range model that we tested here – the 34C with the VX30 ball head – is priced at £290. Benro says the Rhino range’s design aim was to retain the core values that the brand is renowned for, such as the use of quality materials, reliability and versatility. Besides all that, it takes a fresh look at the intricate details of tripod design, making for an even better performance and an enhanced experience for the user.

The 34C – or the FRHN34C to give it its full name – is a four-section tripod with legs made from braided carbon- fibre tubes for greater load capacity and improved twist grips for better handling. The legs are topped with the VX30 ball head, which boasts a redesigned mounting plate to save weight, accepts Arca-type plates and has a safety catch to stop accidental plate removal. This is a smart-looking tripod and the braided legs, which are very tactile, and highlighted controls give it a classy finish. But beauty is much more than skin deep and the 34C with VX30 is great to use, too. Loosen the twist grips and the legs glide out very smoothly and the locks grip the legs rigidly in position, and you don't need strong wrists to get a very secure lock. The legs have three set splay angles – 23°, 55°, 80° – and to change between them, you push the self-locking thumb

catches at the top of each leg. Since these catches stay in place, as well as the presets, you can actually set the legs to any desired angle to suit awkward camera positions. When you want to lock the leg at one of the presets, simply push the silver button on the side and the catch releases. It’s a neat solution. With the centre column in its lowest position and the legs splayed, the camera platform is 48cm off the ground, so if you want a lower position, you need to reverse the centre column, which is done quickly – if the ballast hook is fitted, you need to remove it first. There’s no extra short column supplied. With legs at full extension, the camera platform is 146cm high. For me, a slight head dip gets me comfortably to the viewfinder eyepiece. Use the centre column fully extended and the platform is just over 174cm high, so it’s suitable for very tall photographers and great if you have to shoot over a fence or want a high camera position to minimise converging verticals. Extending a tripod’s centre column like this is not generally a good idea, but I have to say that the 34C is very stable, even at this height. If you grip the shoulder and give it a twist,

there is a little whip in the legs. If you tap the ball head, it settles quickly. I used a Fujifilm GFX 50R with a 100-200mm zoom on the pod fully extended and my two-minute exposures using an extreme ND filter were spot on. Such a large camera and lens pairing is obviously liable to wind-induced vibration, so you have to be aware of that when it’s gusty. However, in a gentle breeze, stability is excellent and I had absolutely no issues with blur.

ABOVE Adjusting leg length is quickly achieved with twist grips. They don’t require too much tightening to give a secure leg lock

ABOVE The VX30 ball head locks firmly in position. The camera plate can be rotated 360° independently of the ball head for panning or panorama shooting

PROS Stability, build quality, load capacity, monopod option CONS Weighty for a travel tripod Verdict The Benro Rhino 34C+VX30 is a lovely support to use. There’s plenty of height available, the leg locks are excellent, the ball head performs well and it has stability straight out of the top drawer. The big thing is the price which, for a set of carbon legs and a very usable ball head, is very competitive, so it’s definitely a tripod for the shortlist.

ABOVE To adjust the legs to a preset or to an in-between position, push in the thumb catch with the Benro logo and release it with the silver button on the side

38 Photography News | Issue 84

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