My search is over for the perfect lightweight travel tripod
Over the past couple of years, I started upgrading my photography equipment to more professional gear. Along with that upgrade, I began researching and testing out different brands of tripods. I finally settled on Manfrotto as ‘my’ brand of choice and I’ve really never looked back. Manfrotto as a brand says ‘quality’ to me. I am confident in the products they create and I know that any of my precious cameras will be safe when they are perched on top of a Manfrotto product.
The first tripod I acquired was the 190 aluminum tripod. It’s a beast and works for most types of photo or video jobs. The only downside to it is that it is a little too much to deal with when traveling. I did invest in a Manfrotto monopod, too, but as great as it is at helping to stabilize a single shot when I’m on the move, it’s not a tripod. And let’s face it, there are just some shots that call for a three-legged accessory. So, I began searching for the perfect, compact travel tripod for my needs. For some reason, my start actually began away from Manfrotto, but I quickly turned back to the stellar brand when I learned about the Befree Live Video Travel Tripod Kit.
The Befree Live Video Travel Tripod is an impressive piece of camera gear. It’s designed for the ‘dedicated to hobbyist videographers and vloggers’ who want lightweight, but high-end support when they are on the go. The Befree Live is made with Carbon Fiber for strength without the weight of a different type of material. The tripod weighs in at just over 3 pounds and can accommodate many different types of cameras including small camcorders, mirrorless cameras, and even full-frame DSLRs.
This tripod model features a brand new locking system called the M-lock, which is a twist lock developed by Manfrotto. It allows users to have a fast, easy to use, compact option for opening and closing the legs. The M-lock does not have any protruding parts and the mechanism closes perfectly around the head. In addition to the M-lock, the Befree Live Carbon has an ergonomic leg-angle selector that is designed to be used by right or left-handed videographers. This mechanism makes it easy for photographers to change shooting perspectives and find the right tripod height quickly and without interrupting your shoot. The Befree Live Carbon can be set to three independent leg angle positions for maximum flexibility.
The Befree Live Carbon also features the Easy Link system just like the professional 190 and 055 models. This system allows users to add accessories like lights or reflectors directly to the tripod. In addition to the potential for adding accessories, the Befree Live Carbon also has an extremely lightweight video head as a part of its kit. This video head features a fluid drag system on pan and tilt and keeps the camera perfectly balanced. The tripod has two intuitive on/off knobs that lock and unlock the head’s pan and tilt movements separately.
- Weight: 48.67 oz
- Collection/Series: Befree Advanced
- Safety Payload Weight: 8.82 lbs.
- Min/Max Height: 16.14 in/59.06 in
The Befree Live Video Travel Tripod Kit comes in a standard Manfrotto branded box. There is a clear image of the product on the box and some minor details are listed along with the images. One thing I like about Manfrotto packaging is that they don’t clutter it up with a lot of wording. They design the packaging so that it showcases the product inside and not the description of it. When you open the box, you will find the tripod safely stowed away inside its carrying case. A manual is also included, but the tripod is pretty self-explanatory as far as operation goes. It comes 100% assembled but does have a hex wrench that comes with it for adjustments.
When I took it out of the carrying pouch, I was amazed at how lightweight the tripod was. Manfrotto offers an aluminum version of this tripod, but I really wanted to make use of the strength and weight difference of the carbon fiber version. Carbon fiber tripods are about 30% lighter than other metals and noticeably more rigid. The Manfrotto 190 that I have is aluminum and while it’s an amazing tripod and feels solid for larger jobs, I really wanted the carbon fiber tripod for my ‘run and gun’ shoots because I knew it wouldn’t falter under extreme conditions.
The first place I took the Befree tripod was a local wildlife area. It’s not a large place, but it does have more than 50 acres and there are a lot of hills. It’s a great place to take photos but there is a lot of walking involved. I set out for this visit with a full-size camera backpack. This backpack is suitable for all your camera gear including a tripod. As you can see from the photo above, the backpack can accommodate the Befree tripod quite easily. This is another place where the M-locks are a blessing. Other tripods of this size have the clip mechanisms that make it nearly impossible to insert into a backpack harness easily. The clips almost always get caught and cost someone who is on the go a lot of precious time. The Befree tripod and it’s magical M-locks make it possible for you to slide the tripod in and out of a backpack harness without losing time or causing any frustration.
Even though I could have carried it in its case that would have meant that I would be hauling two separate bags through the park. So, I stored the Befree on the outside of my pack and meandered through the facility to grab photos of its residents. There is a great overlook deck in one part of the park that allowed me to capture some images of ostriches and the Greater Kudu. I had to move pretty quickly though because they get spooked easily. So, I set down my bag, pulled out my Canon 5D Mark IV with a 70-200 lens attached and pulled out the Befree tripod. Thanks to its M-lock legs the Befree was set-up in just a few seconds and the camera was secured in place and was ready for action.
During that outing, the tripod performed admirably. I had no problems with carrying it around the park or setting it up. It was MUCH easier to deal with than a full-size tripod. I actually have another travel tripod. It’s a nice budget-friendly option for casual photographers and it served me well, but it’s a little clunky and doesn’t open and close as easily as the Manfrotto. I would say using the Befree tripod cut my operating/set-up time in half so I was able to concentrate on my subject and not the equipment.
In addition to the wildlife experience, I have used the tripod at our in-house studio for tabletop photography and at other outdoor locations as shown in the video. I really love having a quick, easy set-up with this tripod because sometimes – even indoors – I want to use my large 70-200 lens and it’s quite heavy. The Befree makes it much easier to use and capture steady shots.
The Befree tripod is a fantastic, lightweight all-around tripod. Even though it’s designed for ‘on the go’ photography and videography, it can be used in many different circumstances. I love the thought that Manfrotto put into the design of this product and that it includes details like the Easy Link system and M-lock legs. The M-locks are truly magical. They make opening and closing the legs a cinch and users can use them in one swift motion. It’s perfect for grabbing a quick shot and moving on to the next set-up. I really can’t say enough good things about this tripod. It received my highest recommendation for all types of users.