Handling & Performance
If you've been wondering whether to buy a monopod for the light weight or a tripod for stability you may be interested in this Benro A1692T model. It offers both options, along with a walking stick, and a compass!
Nicknamed the Travel Angel 2 the A1692T also comes in kit form with a B0 ball & socket head and padded carry case for £249.
Benro A1692TB0 Tripod Features
The Benro A1692TB0 has an unusual design where the legs flip back 180 degrees to close in on the centre column, making the closed size more compact than conventional models where the head sticks out. It's small enough to fit in a carry on bag on an aircraft. Yet when extended it reaches eye level for a near on 6ft person, so is highly versatile.
One of the legs unscrews and can be attached to the center column to conjure up a 6ft monopod. The ball head can then be removed and replaced with a wooden bulb turning it into a useful walking pole. And the bulb has a compass built in. A hand strap is supplied to make the new-found pole even more practical on the hills.
When used as a tripod there are four twist lock leg releases to extend the five section legs and two position locks for the leg angle. The centre column can be reversed for ground level photography and it has a spring hook which can be used with a weighted bag to add stability.
The feet are rubber, but can be unscrewed and replaced with supplied spikes for extra stability in soft terrain.
Its padded carry bag has an internal pocket to house all the bits and bobs.
- Leg unscrews to become a monopod
- Centre column reverses for low lever shooting
- 5 section legs
- Spiked and rubber feet
- Rubberised leg locks
- Two position angle legs
- Truly portable flip back leg design
- Monopod converts to walking stick with compass
- spring hook to add weight for added stability
Benro A1692TB0 Tripod Handling and Performance
Out of the bag you need to flip the legs 150+ degrees so they are pointing away from the head. This is one step more than conventional tripods, but does mean it's smaller to carry and stow. Alternatively you can just keep it stored out of the case in the correct, ready to use position.
The legs are easy to extend, although, like most tripods with twist locks, they're a little slower to extend than quick-release versions and locking / unlocking should be done in sequence.
As the legs have so much flexibility it would be good if they could be used flat to the ground so low angle photography could be done without reversing the centre column, but the column doesn't split like it does on some Manfrotto tripods which is a great shame - you can reverse the centre column but have to negotiate the legs and ideally use live view to see the viewfinder. Also reversing the centre column is quite a faff as you have to unscrew and remove the spring hook.
The monopod leg has a sponge grip which makes it comfortable to carry in cold weather without gloves.
Despite the pretty flimsy looking bottom legs sections, the tripod is sturdy and will suit photographers using compact system cameras and most digital SLRs when used with moderate length lenses - up to 300mm shouldn't cause you any concern. It's not going to stand up in a gale, but carry a plastic shopping bag and fill it with stones to hang on the spring hook if such occasions occur and you'll have a rock solid support.
I didn't get chance to use the spiked feet as their thread was a larger size to those of the rubber feet.
The supplied head in this kit is a ball & socket with quick release. The release has a safety feature which needs a pull and second turn of knob to fully release. There seems to be no practical reason to do this and it impedes speed of release.
There is overkill on the friction too with two knobs to control the friction of angle adjustment. One would do. And as the quick release knob is the same size as the main angle lock so you could easily get confused and turn the wrong one.
The fluidness of movement is very good and it's easy to adjust from portrait to vertical shooting or make minor adjustments to angle in either format.
Value For Money
This is quite an expensive tripod but is feature packed. Those who really want a ultra compact model with a bit more flexibility at lower level should weigh up whether they could forfeit the monopod/walking pole. If so the £180 Velbon Ultrek UT 43D
would be a better option. Alternative compacts include the Velbon Ultra Rexi L
(£100, 36cm-153cm), the Gitzo GT1550T Series 1 Traveller (£481, 36cm-146cm), the Manfrotto MKC3-P02
(£49, 43cm-165cm), (Vanguard Nivelo 204SL
(£49, 30cm-101cm), and at the budget end of the scale, the Hama Profil Duo III
Benro A1692TB0 Tripod Verdict
I really like the compactness of this model, also the look and feel. It certainly provides a solution for those who want to travel light, yet have a sturdy support when they arrive at their destination. Some of the features are over complicated, like the two friction controls on the head, the quick-release plate's second level lock and the need to unscrew the spring hook to reverse the head, but other than that having a monopod built in and the extra touches like the walking pole head with built in compass make this an attractive model for landscape and travel photographers.
Benro A1692TB0 Tripod Pros
Reversing centre column
Benro A1692TB0 Tripod Cons
Over complicated head
Fiddly feet change
Non splitting centre column for low level
Spring hook has to be unscrewed to reverse centre column
|VALUE FOR MONEY
Benro A1629T Specifications
|Maximum Weight Capacity||8kg|
|Number of Leg Sections||5|
|Head||ball & socket|
|Box Contents||No Data|
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