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 Post subject: Benro B-3 head
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 5:16 am 
Here's an initial first thoughts of the Benro B-3 head.

My Benro B-3 head has finally arrived. I was in the market for a replacement head (and eventually replacement legs) for my Manfrotto 190XB/804RC tripod, which has been great for using with my lighter lenses. However, having recently purchased a weighty Sigma 500mm lens, the entry to mid level combination was just not a strong enough for the heavy lens and camera and so I spent a little time looking for firstly an alternative head and eventually, I'll replace the legs when funds allow.

Another requirement for my new head was that it was to be a ballhead. The Manfrotto 804RC uses separate thumbscrews for adjusting the tilt and rotation - one for front/back tilting, another for left/right and the final for rotating. In the field, it's a lot of time and work to accurately position the head to your requirement. You are also limited to how far forwards and backwards you can tilt the Manfrotto 804RC - only 30 degrees either way.

I was initially interested in a Kirk BH-1 but also looked at products from Really Right Stuff and Arca Swiss. These were all priced in the $350 and upwards bracket which was really out of my price range. I probably could have spent some time saving up for the Kirk or Arca Swiss heads but patience and the need for a new head sooner as opposed to later got the better of me, and having discovered a budget alternative in the way of the Benro head, I threw down $150 for their B-3 head.

Image

Possibly taking on a risk, Benro has had mixed reviews and photographers have mixed opinions of the company. They're reputed to take products from other manufacturers and simply rebuild knock off versions. The older Benro KJ and KS ballheads have had favourable reviews. The Benro B-3 is the very latest head to come out of the Benro factory and is similar to the Kirk BH-1 and Arca Swiss Z1 heads. It is compatible with the Arca Swiss system and so any quick release plates, L plates and other Arca Swiss compatible accessories should work fine with the Benro ballhead.

Taking the head of it's box, I was surprised how high a quality finish it seemed to have. It feels absolutely solid and is fairly weighty without being unreasonable. Loosening the thumbscrews, the ball makes a little noise in it's socket but it moves smoothly everything feels well put together. Having picked up and played with the Kirk BH-1, the head moved a little smoother and quieter in it's socket but not overly so.

The Benro has three thumbscrews, the main screw locking the ballhead in place with a smaller friction screw and then a final screw at the base of the head to allow 360 degree panning, and has a marking along the base to show how far round you have rotated it, which would be very useful for taking panoramic photographs.

Image

I haven't worked out the best way to use the combination of the locking and friction screw - it's probably designed to use the friction screw for more accurate adjustments. Once you've tighted up all the thumbscrews, the ball locks absolutely solidly in place and there's no moving it.

When I ordered the ballhead, I mistakenly didn't order a quick release plate and so have not been able to use this head in anger but plan to purchase one at the end of the week and so will update this review then with some sample images.

Image

One feature that's disappointingly absent is a spirit level on the clamp. This would have been very useful and so I will probably have to purchase an additional hotshoe spirit level, or alternatively stump up for an Arca Swiss/Kirk clamp.

Excepting the missing spirit level, so far, so good. It was significantly cheaper than the Kirk and Arca Swiss alternatively so it could have been a case of buying cheap/buying twice. However, the construction of this head is 99% as good as the Kirk head with a saving of $200.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 9:54 am 
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Hi Welly,

Great feedback - thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to your thoughts when you finally get that camera attached. 8)

Bob.

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OM-D E-M5, H-PS14042E, Gitzo GT1541T, Arca-Swiss Z1 DP ball-head.
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:27 pm 
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Location: Madrid, España
Hi Welly, I have a newbie-dSLR tripod question, and, for I've read in this review you (or Bob) can answer me...

I have a cheap-o plastic tripod and willing to buy some good stuff, I've been searching around a good sturdy tripod that dont empty my pockets, something in the range of 200$ - 250$ (Tripod + Head). I've nailed down my decision to the Manfrotto 055PROB Tripod and the 804RC2 Three-Way Head :shock: :!:

The question I have to you is because this:

Quote:
In the field, it's a lot of time and work to accurately position the head to your requirement. You are also limited to how far forwards and backwards you can tilt the Manfrotto 804RC - only 30 degrees either way.


Now I gotta ask... ¿Why you affirm a Three-Way head is limited in confront a Ball Head? As far I know (remember I'm a newbie) the 804RC2 allows you to move the head left-right + front-back + 360º rotation, while the Ball Heads doesn't allow you to go up-down at the same time you're in portrait position (as example) :!:. Another stuff, you said the 804RC2 have only 30º either way tilting, and the Manfrotto Page says that you can go lateral and front tilt in a range of -30º to +90º :!:

That's all I have to ask for now, and hoping you can help me here... Thanks in advance.

Cheers.

-VP-

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 5:16 pm 
Hey VP,

You're right, the 804RC will tilt forward 90 degrees. As regards to the ballhead, you literally can move it anywhere you want. You can move it up and down when it's in portrait, as far as I can tell. With the ballhead, you could move it into portrait position and then rotate it forwards and backwards very easily and then use the panning thumbscrew to rotate it left and right. There's no position you can't put your camera into.

Also, with the Arca Swiss compatible heads, you can buy various connecting plates that make it even more flexible. You can purchase an L bracket, like:

Image

which lets you easily go from portrait to landscape. I think having the ballhead will make positioning your camera far, far quicker than having to adjust several thumbscrews to get your position, as you do with the three way head.

The 804RC is a good head, for the money, but beware of it's limitations. If you foresee yourself doing more photography in the future and possibly getting bigger lenses, I do recommend you skip this intermediate tripod and plump up for something like this Benro head. They do smaller/cheaper versions, the B-2 and B-1 heads and you could purchase the Manfrotto legs separately.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2008 1:05 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 3:43 am
Posts: 84
Location: Madrid, España
Thanks for the answer Welly.

I search around YouTube and find this video that I think explain your point... Your Ball Head do all that looseless rotation :?: If all the Ball Heads work like this, I'm 110% shure I'll buy one of those (The Manfrotto Combo)...

Cheers.

-VP-

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CANONIST!!! 40D + Tamron 17-50mm ƒ/2.8 SP XR Di II LD Aspherical + Canon 50mm ƒ/1.8 EF II flickr


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