My main video tripod rig is a nice and big Benro Carbon Fibre jobbie with a Gitzo leveling base and a Manfrotto 503 video head. It’s big and it’s stable and I like it a lot. But then the need arose for a fast moving, small and light video tripod that adjusts fast and is not required to carry a lot of weight, specifically to be used for the second camera for our behind the scenes videos.
Budget was an issue (when is it not?) but I am the first to rather suggest not buying a tripod instead of buying cheap and never using the tripod in any case. Luckily, it didn’t need to carry heavy gear, a Canon 60D and midrange lens or a Canon XA10.
I have been very happy with my Benro tripods, so obviously, I decided to have a look that way first. In the end I settled on a “All-in-one” aluminium unit, called the Benro KH25 Video Tripod.
It’s designed as a video tripod with a few nice features. Clip lock legs in three segments, with a stabilizer section on the top section that works super smooth for quickly closing the legs down. It’s not a tripod that will carry tons of weight, and does have some flex on the legs if you force it, but luckily, it’s rare that you would encounter such flex as a problem. The legs drop out smoothly once it’s loose, so getting even leg lengths is pretty simple.
Once locked in place, you can level the head with a built in head levelling base and spirit level. Making nice flat pans super simple!
The head is a minimalist video head, medium length arm, and adjustable tension on tilt and pan. A nice little feature is that the tilt is spring loaded, so it returns to flat if you let it go, but also tends to smooth out your tilts. Not as adjustable as my Manfrotto head, but still, it works, and that’s all that counts. The head is very similar to a Manfrotto 701 video head in size. The mounting plates has a second safety catch, so even with the quick release, it will start to slide out and then lock on a safety catch to stop the camera from falling off the head. To fully release, you need to press another button to let go of the plate. This is a godsend when you are balancing your camera on the head with slightly longer lenses!
My main gripe is that I am trying to standardize all my mounting plates arca-Swiss type dovetail-plates that fits on so many heads, but this tripod has its own size plate. That was a bit of a letdown. I can understand why they did it (there is a second pin for video cameras to keep your mount straight) but considering that this is a perfect little unit for DSLR video shooters, a dovetail would have made more sense in my opinion.
The clip lock legs works a treat in my opinion, and they lock tight. My assistant does complain that she sometimes struggle to get the clips loose (especially after a day of shooting and moving around) Personally I don’t think this is a problem, but I thought I’d mention it. Also I have given myself a very decent pinch or two while closing the clips when not paying attention. User error, nothing else.
I have been using this tripod now for little bit more than a year on a fairly regular basis. It hasn’t let me down yet, and I find more and more that if I quickly need to set up a video tripod, I will grab this one instead of the bigger Carbon Fibre legs.
Best part: Legs, levelling base, head and carry bag – the whole shebang costs only a little more than a single Manfrotto 701 head!