I purchased the BENRO TRAB069 Travel Angel TRAB a couple of months ago, and all in all I highly recommend the little tripod.
This Travel Angel tripod features individual leg angle adjustments, anti-rotation leg design, a reversible center column with spring loaded weight hook, anti dust and moisture rubber leg lock grips, and reversible 1/4″-20 to 3/8″ mounting threads. It has 5 leg sections and a maximum height of 54.3″ with a normal height of 47.8″ with the legs fully extended.
However, what makes it so special is that the folded height is a tiny 13.1″ while still maintaining a load capacity of 13.2 pounds! This makes it one of the most compact travel tripods around, while still being professional grade. Oh, and at just over $210, it competes with the Gitzo GT1541T Series 1 6X 4S G-Lock Traveler which is much bigger and costs $535!
Here is a little video that demonstrates the versatility and operation of this tripod.
The Link on Amazon
With any luck, the link below should show you the current price and stuff on Amazon. Let me know if it’s broken.
I highly recommend this tripod. It feels solid and sturdy, though when fully extended I recommend weighing it down a bit with the included hook to keep the tripod steady. It’s very, very light and comes with a nice carry case. In fact, it’s so light that I actually left one in a cab because I forgot I had it with me! Don’t make the same mistake!
The legs fold up easily, and to extend them you simply twist the rubber joints to lock and unlock them. Operation is simple, and should be usable even for people with weaker grips or arthritis who might otherwise have difficulty with latches on cheaper tripods.
I also recommend a simple modification to it as well. You see my other tripods, my new monopod, and most importantly the heads for my tripods are all Manfrottos. More specifically, the heads for my Manfrotto tripods all have a very specific quick connect called the RC2 Rapid Connect Mounting Plate. This is very important.
Now, the Benro comes with it’s own little ball head (someone please let me know if you figure out how to buy these specific legs without the head!!!!), but it uses a completely different quick connect plate. That means that you have to continually be changing the quick connect on your camera to move between the travel tripod and the larger studio tripod you might have for non-travel use.
To make matters worse, unlike the Manfrotto RC2’s finger tightening grip, the Benro plate requires an allen wrench to install or remove (someone please shoot the engineer responsible). This is a major pain in the ass for traveling!
So, the bottom line is that I recommend that you switch the head out for one that will match whatever your main tripod is. If you don’t have another tripod, but you want to future proof yourself, or if you just want the quick disconnect feature so you can interchange cameras, camcorders, etc from the tripod, I recommend one of these options to you. Also, remember that when you are not traveling you can move any of these heads to another tripod or monopod.
- Manfrotto 486RC2 Compact Ball Head with RC2 Rapid Connect System – ~$60. This compact yet sturdy ball head allows you to rotate, swivel and position your camera at any angle you want, then lock it in with a simple twist of a knob. It’s small, light and the least expensive high quality ball head you should consider. Plus it uses the RC2 plate.
- Manfrotto 488RC2 Midi Ball Head with RC2 Rapid Connect System (3157N) – ~$90. This is like the head above, except that it has an additional knob which controls side to side rotation. This is great when you want to mount the camera and then be able to pan from side to side. Without this adjustment you simply can’t do that, so I recommend you spend the extra $30 or whatever and get this one.
- Manfrotto 700RC2 Mini Video Head w/RC2 Rapid Connect Plate – $85. This is your standard traditional video recording head. It has a nice long arm and smooth action for swiveling and panning to follow the action. It can also be locked in place for still photography. It’s by far the most versatile of these heads, but the biggest and heaviest too. It’s not practical to take this with a tiny travel tripod unless you are looking to do video. But if so, it will work just fine.
- Manfrotto 322RC2 Horizontal Grip Action Ball Head with RC2 Rapid Connect Plate (3157N) – $120. This is a ball head with a big grip that makes it easier to tighten and release the angle, but also allows you to use the grip a bit like the handle on a traditional head like the one above. However, this grip is primary meant to be stationary, so you can’t really use it with a camcorder for panning and stuff. It’s designed to unlock, position, an lock.