Manfrotto MKBFRA4-BH BEFREE Tripod - advice sought

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Ricoh, Dec 31, 2014.

  1. Ricoh

    Ricoh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    906
    Nov 2, 2013
    UK
    Steve
    I've been looking for a travel tripod and the Manfrotto BEFREE seems to tick many boxes, weight, compact size for carrying, plus the price seems to be good (£110 in the UK). Can anyone here say from 1st hand experience what they think of the tripod, i.e. likes and dislikes.
    Size wise it's not the tallest tripod, max 144cm, min 123cm, but with tilting LCD screens it shouldn't be a major problem.

    Spelling error
     
  2. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales
    If it's size is anywhere near the size if it's reference number, then it's gonna be a big'n, :))
     
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  3. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    David
    I have the MeFOTO Road Trip, about the same size, but higher rated load and (in the US anyway) cheaper.
     
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  4. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    I own the aluminum version of the BeFree tripod. The only dislike is that, it is a bit heavier than the carbon version but then I like the weight due to the lack of a weight hook for windy conditions. It folds like a Gitzo traveller tripod which cost a bit more and comes with a cheesy carrying bag. The legs extend very securely and the ball head it came with is very good. It takes the standard 200PL QR plate. It also rates very highly in vibrational damping with a tap test (less than 1 sec or 3 sec with DSLR) when used with a mirrorless camera with legs fully extended; something I look forward to if one day I decide to buy the new E-M5 Mark 2 with the shift sensor to make 40MP files and don't want to employ a 12sec delay for every shot with my cheapy Giottos travel tripod. Even then it wasn't sharp; at least sharper than I could get with the Manfrotto 055 with a heavier head. The total height is a bit shorter than other travel tripods, but the tilting LCD makes up for that and I don't like tripods that are too tall as they induce instability anyhow which can result in micro-vibrations (micro blur) that causes pictures to be unsharp @ 100% -- more important if you're making 20x30 prints. The BeFree is a good compromise travel tripod that is stable and not too expensive and too flashy and takes a reasonable load.
     
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  5. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    No 1st hand with that one, but I recently went through the travel tripod quest, ending up with a Benro Travel Flat. Three thoughts on the one you are looking at: (1) Is the head removable? At some point you may want a different head or to use a different QR system. I wouldn't want to be locked in. (2) The lever-lock legs have advantages and disadvantages. They can be locked and unlocked quickly, but the cost of that is the levers hanging out and catching on things as you handle the tripod. Personally I much prefer the collet-type leg locks that lock when a non-protruding sleeve is turned. YMMV. (3) For stiffness, tube diameter is your friend. Going for something like 28mm (max tube diameter) adds little to tripod weight or bulk, but it adds massively to stiffness compared to the much smaller leg diameters on this model.
     
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  6. Ricoh

    Ricoh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    906
    Nov 2, 2013
    UK
    Steve
    Many thanks to all who replied. I take notice of the comments and advice offered.
    Oldracer, you make a good point about tube diameter, on the basis of what you said I shall widen my search.
    Cheers.
     
  7. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Yes. IIRC stiffness goes up as the 4th power of diameter. So from 12mm smallest tube to even 14mm almost doubles the stiffness. That can't be bad. Benro, for one, often seems to offer the same model in several tube diameters. Probably Sirui and others do the same. Gitzo's tripod families (Studex, etc.) are all based on what tubing diameter you want.
     
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  8. Ricoh

    Ricoh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    906
    Nov 2, 2013
    UK
    Steve
    Thank you for the follow up on this oldracer. Tube diameter is clearly a major determinant for stiffness. I think I was overwhelmed by the sale price such that common sense flew out of the window. It was definitely worth asking for advice on this as I almost hit the buy now button. I may as well pay a bit more and get something fit for purpose. The exchange of views has been very helpful, thanks again.
     
  9. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    David
    FYI, MeFOTO is made by Benro. The models are very similar though the Benro versions do have some nice addons and slight upgrades.

    I have the MeFOTO RoadTrip Travel Tripod Kit, the Benro A1692TB0 Travel Angel II Triple Transfunctional Aluminum Tripod Kit is about the same in Benro. They seem about the same as the Manfroto you listed.
     
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  10. orwell

    orwell Mu-43 Rookie

    21
    Jul 29, 2012
    i brought the aluminum version of the BeFree tripod in November. i'm happy with the weight and size of it. my only issue is the ball head as i'm use to one with adjustment arm. apart from that great tripod.
     
  11. chipshot713

    chipshot713 Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 24, 2012
    Pearland, Texas
    Kelly
    Steve, I have the MeFoto Backpacker and I love it. Spec's are as follows: Sections = 5, Max. H = 1310mm - 51.6 in, Folded = 315mm - 12.4 in, Weight = 1.2kg - 2.6 lb, Load = 4kg - 8.8 lb. I paid $139 for mine and it's aluminum. Came with a removable Q0 Mefoto ballhead and a very nice canvas carrying bag. Hope this helps you . Happy NewYear.
     
  12. Ted

    Ted Mu-43 Regular

    79
    Oct 10, 2014
    Tasmania, Australia
    Theo B
    I also have the aluminium Befree, love it with my E-M5. Folds up really small so easy to take on a walk and I've never had any problems with stability, even when shooting in windy, raining conditions. I'd have no hesitation in recommending them to someone who's after a travel tripod :smile:
     
  13. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I looked closely at the MeFoto, BeFree and the Sirui T005. I bought the Sirui. However, it was a toss up between this and the MeFoto. I thought the ball head was nicer in the Sirui. I didn't like the BeFree at all - messy leg lock mechanism and overall it just felt cheaper (even though it wasn't!).
     
  14. rparmar

    rparmar Mu-43 Top Veteran

    639
    Jun 14, 2011
    Limerick, Ireland
    Well, you can buy a cheap tripod and replace it when it breaks.

    You can buy a heavy tripod and never actually use it.

    Or you can buy a decent tripod made of high quality carbon fibre, that will be more rigid than aluminum and lighter than steel.

    I should know; I've done all three things.

    My solution was a Feisol tripod, more than I initially thought of spending, but I wish I'd done so sooner. 3 year worldwide warranty. Others might prefer Gitzo, also a premium brand.

    My policy is now to avoid any brand one might find in a high street shop.
     
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  15. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Walter
    I have the MeFoto Road Trip in aluminum, and although I haven't taken it on a trip, it is a great size and weight and is very stable. I looked at an aluminum BeFree in the local Costco and was not impressed. The ballhead lock was broken in the sense that it tightened, but the ballhead remained loose and the tripod wasn't very sturdy. If a customer can break it in the store, it does not bode well for durability. Even though it was cheaper than the Road Trip, it struck me as a lot less sturdy and seemed cheaply made. Maybe this is not the same as the one you're considering, but I was not at all impressed. Sorry, Manfrotto fans. :)

    After I bought the MeFoto, I looked at the Siruis online. They look pretty good. If I were buying a travel tripod again, I would consider a carbon fiber Sirui.
     
  16. wilson

    wilson Mu-43 Regular

    44
    Mar 26, 2014
    I purchased an aluminum Manfrotto BeFree and found it too be less stable (leg flex wise) than a >$100 tripod should be, so I returned it. It was as stable as my $50 low end Manfrotto.
     
  17. Sig

    Sig Mu-43 Rookie

    12
    Apr 11, 2012
  18. biomed

    biomed Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 22, 2013
    Seattle area
    Mike
    I just looked at the BeFree this afternoon and wasn't overly. I have an older aluminum Manfrotto tripod that is on the heavy side that I use when it is windy. I also have a Feisol carbon fiber tripod that I use most of the time.