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The Manfrotto BeFree is a completely new tripod from Manfrotto that is designed to be compact, light and portable. It is a stylish aluminium tripod, without the budget or plastic build quality usually associated with compact tripods. The Manfrotto Befree has it's own dedicated section on Manfrotto's website and is available for £174.95 with a 10 year warranty.
Compact, light and portable, this tripod is designed for photographers who love to travel. It's a high quality tripod designed to fit into carry-on luggage and backpacks. Thanks to the unique folding mechanism, the legs fold neatly around the head and quick release plate attachment. In the closed position it is only 40 cm long.
A new aluminum ball head is solid, quick and simple to operate. The Manfrotto Befree has a maximum payload of 4 kg (8.8lb), so can be used with longer zoom lenses. Patented leg angle selectors allow you to quickly select between two inclinations offering maximum versatility for camera positioning.
The tripod comes in a stylish padded bag with a rubber grip on the strap to keep it held steadily to your shoulder, and inside the tripod fits neatly as the legs fold 180 degrees. The aluminium tripod feels extremely well built with one of the legs featuring a large rubber grip. At the top of the legs are the easy to use angle selectors with each one featuring a label so that you know how the control operates, and can quickly setup, use, and put away the tripod without having to refer to the instruction manual.
The ball head has one main knob to control the position of the ball, which can be used in landscape or portrait mode. The main knob when released will also allow panning of the head, although as the control releases both the ball and panning, care will be needed to ensure the position of the ball doesn't change, or the camera tilts forwards or backwards. The head is removable so that you can replace it or take it off the tripod if you need to, and underneath is a 1/2" thread.
The top quick release (QR) plate is standard to Manfrotto, which will make it convenient if you own any other Manfrotto tripods. It features a dual locking system for the QR plate, so that you don't accidentally release your camera from the tripod.
The centre column features a rubber ring to protect equipment if you accidentally let the centre column drop with your equipment on it. On the bottom of the legs are rubber feet to prevent the tripod slipping.
The distance between the leg releases can make it a little tricky to release all three at the same time, and on other tripods when these are closer together it's easy to quickly release all leg sections at the same time. However, once you get used to the position, it becomes quite easy to quickly deploy the tripod.
Twist the silver knobs at the top of the legs and they click into the first position which is a standard angle, twist again and the legs can be spread further apart. Turn the knob to the original position and you can fold the legs in to the tripod. The legs give two angles 25° and 51° for lower down shots.
There is some flex in the thinnest leg section, and for the sturdiest support you could leave these so they are not extended. With the centre column down, and the last leg section un-used, the tripod is very sturdy. Fully extended, to the maximum height of 144cm / 4 feet 9" the tripod performs reasonably well, although the height could cause you to bend your back if you are much taller than 5 feet, unless you can angle the screen on your camera.
Value For MoneyThe Manfrotto BeFree is available on Manfrotto's website for £174.95 which includes the ball head, which puts it at the slightly more expensive end of the market for a compact tripod, however it has solid build quality and the 10 year warranty helps justify the price. Other tripods available are listed below:
Velbon Ultra REXI L, £115 without head.
Velbon Ultrek UT 43D, £179 with head.
Benro Travel Angel 2, £199 with head.
Giottos YTL 9253 Tripod, £99 without head.
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|The Manfrotto BeFree is a stylist, compact tripod that looks good and performs well, with solid build quality.|
Manfrotto BeFree ProsExcellent build quality
10 year warranty after registration
Compact size, Light weight
Same quick release plate as other Manfrotto tripods
Quick to deploy
Manfrotto BeFree ConsWould be nice to have tightening tool included
Difficult to fit tripod back in case with QR plate attached
Could feel a little short for taller people
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Manfrotto Befree Specifications
|Maximum Weight Capacity||4kg|
|Number of Leg Sections||4|
|Box Contents||Quick release plate 200PL-14, Case, Tripod, Instructions|