The Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber Compact Travel Tripod is a new tripod that delivers on its portability. It is both compact and lightweight.
It offers 4 leg sections that allow it to collapse down to only 15.75″ and slides perfectly in the Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack‘s tripod pouch even when the tripod is put away it the included carry case. The carbon fiber build makes the BeFree tripod an ultra-light 2.4 pounds.
It extends to a maximum height of 56.7″ with the center column.
The ball head is designed specifically for the BeFree tripod and includes notches that allow the legs to be folded up and around it. The BeFree tripod also folds upside-down in order to allow such a compact fit. That is, the legs are unlocked and then folded up above the tripod head while the center column is extended to its maximum height.
Normally, you would see the tripod’s head sticking out of the top of a collapsed tripod. In this case, however, what you see is the bottom of the center column. It’s a great design that really nails the portability equation.
While light and fully functional with the included ball head, really the only thing you give up is load capacity. This is not a heavy duty tripod with its max load capacity of 8.8 pounds. Birders need not apply.
Of course, if portability is your concern when packing a tripod, then you are likely not toting around a heavy camera package either.
The ball head features a single grip handle to adjust and lock the head. Other bulkier heads offer more independent adjustments; however, the included head is smooth to operate and locks your camera tightly in place.
The quick release plate looks like the standard Manfrotto RC2 plate; however, its not the same heavy metal material and it doesn’t fit quite the same in other RC2 quick-release heads. Although, on the BeFree Tripod’s head it works just fine.
In addition to the standard, upright position and the compact, fold-away position, the tripod legs can also be independently adjusted to a wider angle for flexibility in shooting positions.
The BeFree tripod will handle respectable loads and delivers solid performance for its size. If you travel frequently, or you are just looking for a way to lighten your load a little more, you will be hard pressed to find a better solution this tripod. The carbon fiber build pushes the price tag for $349; however, it is still a value at that price considering what you are getting. Check it out here at B&H Photo.
If you are looking for something a little less expensive, Manfrotto also makes an aluminum version, which adds just over half of a pound to the tripod’s weight.
The tripod is also available as a kit with Manfrotto’s Advanced Travel Backpack, which you can find here at B&H Photo.
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