Having recently reviewed the excellent Benro GH2 Gimbal Head, which I really loved, I was keen to explore what Benro Tripods there were for a photographer going travelling on Safari.
Looking at their product range, there is quite a large selection of Benro Travel Tripods to choose from, with their very successful Benro Travel Angel series being the most ideal for taking on safari. What is more is this range has just been updated and thanks to Kenro, the UK distributors, I was lucky enough to get the chance to be one of the first to try out one of their new Travel Angel 2 Tripods – below are my findings and full review:
Benro Travel Angel 2 Tripods
The new Travel Angel 2 range comprises six models with both aluminium and carbon fibre versions. I had the “snappy” named Benro A1682TB0 Travel Angel 2 Tripod Kit to review – an aluminium model with 4 leg sections.
Main Specifications of the Benro A1682TB0
Max Height: 1.59m / 62.6 in
Folded size: 44cm / 17.32 in
Weight: 1.75kg / 3.89 lbs
Max load: 8kg / 17.6 lbs
Size and Weight
The first thing you will notice after taking the Benro Travel Angel 2 Tripod out of the box and it’s carry case, is the size. Fully collapsed, it is much more compact than most traditional full sized tripods. This compact size can be attributed to the 4 section legs that are also able to fold backwards on themselves (so up towards the center column at 180°). This allows the tripod to collapse down into a nice and small package. At 1.75kg (3.89 lbs) and just 44cm (17.32in) when folded down, the Benro A1682TB0 can easily fit inside most full sized camera bags.
With all 4 legs sections out, with the central column fully retracted the tripod stands at 125cm (49.2in) – excluding the height of the tripod head and measured from the floor to the base of the platform. With the central column fully extended the height extends to 152cm (59.8in). Benro advertise that the tripod’s maximum height is 1.59m (62.6 in) – I can only assume that this is achieved by bringing the legs inwards from their fixed stop at 24° or if they are also taking the height of the tripod head into account?
Weighing 1.75kg / 3.89 lbs, it is perhaps not the lightest travel tripod out there, but for me it is easily light enough and for me the added stability it has over some super light models is far more important. If you do want a lighter tripod, the travel Angel 2 series also has a number of carbon fibre models that weigh a lot less.
The Tripod Legs
This Benro A1682TB0 Travel Angel 2 uses twist locks to open and close the leg sections and have anti-twist legs that prevent the legs from spinning as you turn the twist locks. The anti-twist legs help you to quickly setup and breakdown the tripod, even with one hand and are actually an excellent feature and one that you don’t always find on a tripod in this price range. Setting up can be especially quick, because you can open all three twist locks on each leg with just one hand at the same time and pull on the bottom section to extend all sections in one quick action. This also works when locking all of the sections after you have collapsed the legs.
The legs themselves open and close with a nice smooth action, without being too loose. Each leg can move independently of each other and can click stop and lock at 2 positions: at 24° and at 80°. To move the legs from one of these locked positions, you just pull out the plate with the Benro logo on (see image above).
Adjustable Leg Angle Stops
I really like the way that the Benro Angel 2 tripod legs can be independently locked into place at two different angles. My personal, but larger and heavier Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT Tripod can also do the same thing and this added flexibility has really helped me out in the past. It enables you to use the tripod at almost ground level for unique perspectives. Being able to have diffident legs at different angles has also helped when I was taking some bird shots, but was positioned on the side of a steep embankment. Other times this feature has been useful include when trying to fit my tripod in a tight space, like in and around a bench where I take many of my product photos.
The first click stop for the legs is at the traditional position of about 24°. From here and with a 4 leg sections fully extended, the tripod is at it’s least stable, but was still perfectly adequate for my set-up. To add stability, you could always add some weight to the spring-loaded hook located at the bottom of the center column.
You can then open the legs and fix them at the wider 80° position, which allows you to get much lower to the ground, which can be useful when taking macro or photos from a more unique perspective. One thing to note is the center column has to be extended to roughly half it’s length when the legs are in this 80° position.
The Travel Angel tripod comes with a hook, located on the bottom of the center-column which allows you to hang additional weight from here. Because this is located at the tripod’s center of gravity it will have the effect of increasing stability. Although I never needed to use it, it could be useful to those who are using very heavy and long telephoto lenses.
Tripod + Monopod + Walking Stick
Know as a Transfunctional Tripod, a nice feature on the Travel Angel 2 Tripod is that one of the legs can be converted into a monopod. To do this you just unscrew the detachable leg that has the foam handle on it and is marked with a blue ring and then screw on a head plate that enables you to attach your camera to you new monopod – excellent!
But wait, there is more! You can also use this leg as a walking stick – Instead of attaching the plate that you attach the tripod head to, you can just screw on the “walking stick” head that comes with it’s own compass – this feature is ideal for those who also enjoy walking. A nice touch is my tripod also came with a good quality wrist strap that will prevent you from dropping your walking stick.
Benro have shown some good attention with some of the included extras that come with the Travel Angel Tripods:
The included carry case looks to be really well made, it is well padded and has an internal zipped pocket and a shoulder strap. This case will provide your tripod and tripod head with some extra protection during transport when you are travelling or going on safari.
Spiked or Rubber Feet
The tripod came initially set-up with rubber feet, but these can be unscrewed and replace with the included stainless steel spiked feet – again this is a nice touch and will help to ensure you have the most stable platform possible, no matter what situation you find yourself in!
Benro B0 Ball Head
My tripod kit came with Benro’s B0 Ballhead that can take an advertised maximum load of 17.6 lbs (8 kg). All BENRO B-Series Ballheads, including this one have two independent manual drag and locking controls as well as a panning control and use a Universal Arca-Swiss style Quick Release mounting plate system. Also included is a built-in bubble Level that helps in making sure that you don’t get uneven pans and head movements.
This B0 ball head easily held my Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR bridge camera even with the Raynox DCR-2025PRO Telephoto Conversion Lens attached, and I am sure it would easily hold most DSLR cameras, I would hesitate in recommending that you use it with a DSLR and a long telephoto lens as I am sure you would get some creep and you would be far better off getting a beefier head.
For me the big omission to this ball head is the lack of a safety lock on the PU-50 Quick Release Plate and so the only thing separating your camera from the ground is one knob that you must make sure is tightened before moving the camera otherwise it could turn out to be a very expensive mistake.
Whilst the Benro A1682TB0 Travel Angel 2 Tripod may not be the lightest, most compact travel tripod available, it is still small and light enough to make it an excellent choice for travel and would make an ideal safari tripod. The fact that it is so sturdy also more than makes up for the few extra grams.
Because you can also convert it to a monopod and use it as a walking stick is a nice bonus. So overall I thought that the Benro Travel Angel 2 was a well made good quality tripod and is in my opinion very reasonably priced making it excellent value for money.
Cost and Where to buy
Benro Travel Angle Tripods are available on Amazon in both the UK and the USA:
The promotional video below from Benro is of the older original Travel Angel Tripod, but will give you a good idea of some of this newer versions main features and highlights: