A compact, solidly-built tripod that can accept payloads up to 4 kg yet folds up small enough to suit travelling photographers.

-/

In summary

Although designed mainly for travellers, the Befree tripod is actually quite versatile and usable in many different situations. Its maximum payload of 4 kg enables it to be used with entry- and mid-level DSLRs plus smaller, lighter lenses.  But it really stands out as an ideal match for compact system cameras (CSCs) in both size and carrying power.

The Befree tripod can be used for shooting landscapes and cityscapes and will enable slower shutter speeds and smaller apertures to be used in low light levels (including after dark), giving photographers more control over shooting parameters. It will provide adequate stability in situations where the camera can’t be hand-held, yet its size and weight are similar to (or less than) the average monopod, which is much less stable.

 

Full review

Manfrotto’s Befree tripod has been designed to combine performance with portability. Weighing only 1.4 kg and only 40 cm long, it is small and light enough to fit into carry-on luggage and backpacks and also compact enough to attach to a camera bag without sticking out unnecessarily. Its relatively high price tag implies there have been no compromises when it comes to build quality and design.
 

-

 Manfrotto’s Befree compact tripod. (Source: Manfrotto.)

Extensive use is made of aluminium and the new aluminium ball head is solid and simple to operate. Smart Italian styling and finishing make the Befree stand out from the crowd.

The Befree is supplied with a padded carry bag made from rip-stop nylon. It is 42 cm long and closes with a zipper. An adjustable shoulder strap enables the bag to be carried comfortably.
 

-

The Befree tripod, shown in the supplied carry bag. (Source: Manfrotto.)

Who’s it For?
 Although designed mainly for travellers, the Befree tripod is actually quite versatile and usable in many different situations. Its maximum payload of 4 kg enables it to be used with entry- and mid-level DSLRs plus smaller, lighter lenses.  But it really stands out as an ideal match for compact system cameras (CSCs) in both size and carrying power.

The Befree tripod can be used for shooting landscapes and cityscapes and will enable slower shutter speeds and smaller apertures to be used in low light levels (including after dark), giving photographers more control over shooting parameters. It will provide adequate stability in situations where the camera can’t be hand-held, yet its size and weight are similar to (or less than) the average monopod, which is much less stable.

Setting Up
 The Befree tripod come with its legs turned up to surround the central column and head so the first step in setting it up is to pull the legs down. This brings the centre column and head into the right position for use.

-

 The illustration above shows the top of the Befree tripod’s legs with the angle-adjustment levers. The column is shown running through the centre of the legs. (Source: Manfrotto.)

The four leg sections extend to an overall length of approximately 1240 mm and the central column can be raised through roughly 195 mm to raise the camera roughly 1440 mm above the ground. The central column is locked into place with a pressure clamp applied by rotating a locking knob, located at the top of the legs.
 
 

-

The Befree tripod with its legs fully extended. (Source: Manfrotto.)
 

Each leg can be set independently at one of two angles of spread. You simply push the leg slightly in towards the centre column, raise the angle selector lever with your thumb and rotate it to the desired position (indicated by the symbols).

The lever is initially stiff to move but once lifted, it’s easy to re-position and the leg locks neatly into place. The adjustment is completed by opening the leg fully again. Each leg has four segments with lever clamps for holding them in place. The lever handles are large enough to be locked and unlocked with ease and comfort but moulded to keep it roughly in line with the leg.
 

-

The ball head on the top of the central column, with the 200PL quick release plate. (Source: Manfrotto.)

The ball head sits at the top of the column and holds a fitting that accepts a Manfrotto quick-release camera plate, which should be included. If you already have a Manfrotto tripod with a 200PL quick release plate, you’ll find it fits the Befree tripod, enabling you to swap a camera between tripods without having to remove the QR plate.  

Fitting the quick release plate is initially tricky because you have to push down a locking lever (‘safety catch’) with your left thumb while at the same time   turning the pressure clamp that holds the plate in place with the first finger of the same hand. Very little force is required but the tripod head and camera with the plate attached must be held steadily with your right hand while the camera is being mounted. It’s a good idea to lock the ball joint before you begin.

Once the camera is in position, the clamp holds it securely and it’s easy to remove plate and camera by reversing the attachment actions. Simply open the lever while simultaneously pushing the safety catch down.

A pull-out rubber cap at the bottom of the central column enables the column to be reversed for low-level shooting. When the legs are not extended, the camera can be positioned very close to the ground for close-ups of prostrate plants and/or ground-dwelling animals.

The ball head has the usual indentation that enables the camera to be tilted into vertical orientation. Its locking knob is easy to operate and holds the camera firmly in place. The knob is mounted on a ratchet nut and can be repositioned by pulling the lock outwards, rotating the head into position and then releasing it. This won’t affect the security of the lock itself.
 

-

The base of the Befree tripod, showing the rubber feet at the end of each leg. (Source: Manfrotto.)

The feet at the end of each leg are made from moulded rubber. They are attached via screws that go directly into the bottom of the leg. No spike is provided for security on mobile surfaces.
 
 

-

The locking tension in the legs can be adjusted with a Torx key. (Source: Manfrotto.)

If necessary, the locking tension in the legs can be adjusted with a Torx key number 25 star screwdriver. This should be included but if it isn’t (or if you mislay it) you’ll find sets of Torx keys readily available from hardware stored and locksmiths. Turning the screwdriver clockwise tightens the lock on the leg extension, while turning it the other way loosens it.

Conclusion
 Manfrotto’s Befree carries a premium price tag and goes quite a long way towards justifying it. For a compact and lightweight tripod, it is solidly built and generally well-designed. Provided the load is kept within the tripod’s limits and it is balanced correctly, the Befree tripod works well and is stable enough for most situations. For maximum stability, we recommend keeping the head as close to the top of the legs as possible.

Although there’s no provision for attaching a weight to the bottom of the column, you could probably tie a string around the top of the legs and hang a weight from that, if additional stabilisation was needed. We doubt this would withstand very windy conditions but it would probably provide enough additional stability to counteract a moderate breeze.

The supplied carry bag is a nice addition. It’s well made and smart looking and provides enough protection without adding significantly to the overall weight.  

 

SPECS

 Construction material: Aluminium
 Height range: 340 mm to 1440 mm
 Leg Sections: 4
 Leg tube diameters: 22.5 mm, 19 mm, 15.5 mm,12 mm
 Leg Cross Section: D shape
 Leg angles: Max. 25 degrees 51 minutes; legs can be set independently
 Centre column: Rapid, reversible
 Feet: Moulded rubber
 Max Payload: 4 kg
 Camera plate: 200PL-14 with 1/4 attachment
 Adjustment: Ball head with screw clamp
 Closed length: 400 mm
 Weight: 1.4 kg
 Supplied with: Padded bag with carry handle

 

Rating

RRP: AU$262

  • Build quality: 8.5
  • Features: 8.3
  • Stability: 8.5
  • Versatility: 8.5

Buy