During my recent trip to the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands, Gentect International the Canadian distributor for Manfrotto tripods was kind enough to loan me the Manfrotto BeFree, which is a small lightweight tripod designed for travel. When the tripod arrived at my home just prior to my departing I knew instantly that this lovely little tripod would be perfect for my travels, and throughout my trip I was constantly reminded why having a small light weight tripod is so beneficial for travel. Whether I was using my wide angle zoom or my large and heavy Nikon 80-400 mm VR lens the tripod met my expectations of what should be expected in a travel tripod – lightweight yet sturdy.
First and foremost the Befree Tripod comes with an attractive and very useful carrying bag. I would often hang the tripod from the handlebars of a bicycle to ride down the road to nearby photo destinations.
The Manfrotto Befree Tripod weighs in at only 3lbs and is 15.75 inches in length when fully closed and boasts a maximum payload of 8.8 lbs. As is the case with most tripods designed for travel it is not overly tall when fully extended. With the center column extended the tripod will reach a height of 56.7 inches and 48.4 inches tall when the center column is not extended. Since I am 6 foot 1 inch I did find this a tad short, but I also much prefer to photograph my landscapes from a lower perspective, so this was not really too big of a concern to me. Also, it should be noted that when any tripod’s center column is extended the stability of said tripod becomes immediately less stable. As a result I was not extending the center column during use, and I would advise strongly that folks avoid extending the center column of any tripod unless they absolutely need to do so.
The Manfrotto Befree Tripod comes with its very own mini ballhead incorporating Manfrotto’s quick release system that has been in use for a number of years. I have found this to be a very functional system that provides the convenience and stability a photographer would need. The quick release plates easily screw into the tripod threads on your camera by means of a collapsible-type of thumb screw and once tightened to the camera you can then tighten a small set-screw to prevent the quick release plate from twisting during use.
Three features I particularly liked about this tripod were; one of the legs has a rubber section incorporated into it which I found greatly improved the carrying comfort and which would be very handy for use in cold climates. Secondly, each leg has a silver adjustment tab that allows each leg to adjust independantly for use on uneven terrain or to fold it down for storage inside the carrying bag. Lastly, the legs of the Befree are four section legs that are controlled by three lever-type cam-locks. I found closing and locking the levers to be a very simple process, I would loosen each leg-lock, close the legs, and then with one simple motion use the palm of my hand in a rolling motion to close all three of the locks.
The leg-locking levers and mini ballhead are protected by misuse from airport baggage handlers due to the manner in which the Befree folds down for travel. The leg-locking levers and ballhead are protected by being positioned inside the sturdy aluminum tripod legs.
Below you will see a series of images that better illustrate the fantastic features mentioned above. Please click on each image to see the larger, sharper versions. If you are looking for a small, light weight tripod for your next travel adventure do consider the Manfrotto BeFree. I found it to be an amazingly light, yet sturdy tripod that ensured I was able to create the tack sharp images I demand from my work. This tripod will become my brand new companion for all of my travel photography needs.