Being based out of Tokyo I am always moving. Japan has an amazing public transportation system that I take full advantage of. As a portrait and travel photographer I always have to be ready to go. Carrying gear from shoot to shoot can be extremely tiresome, so portability is very important to me. Throughout my career I’ve been constantly replacing gear to find things lighter and easier to carry in order to make things easier for me. The Befree tripod became the definition of what I look for in all my gear.
The compact size of the Befree tripod was the first thing to appeal to me. By folding everything in I was able to reduce the size to about fifteen inches. The size was so small that I could easily put it in my suitcase. This allowed me to carry most of my gear in my carry on suitcase ensuring I had speedy disembarkment from my flights. I could fit my camera, clothes, batteries, and lights all in the same suitcase along with my tripod. It also became very easy to carry around by hand. By folding it into such a compact size I didn’t have to worry about bumping into things. I had full control of the compacted tripod as it was about as long as a suitcase.
When fully extended the tripod reached to a little over four and a half feet. I am around five foot nine inches, so when shooting with it I have to bend over a little bit. However the one foot difference between myself and the tripod is not enough to feel uncomfortable when lining up my shots. It’s a good size, where if it were a little shorter it would be unpleasant.
The BeFree tripod I purchased has an aluminum body that has stood up to every sort of mistreatment I could give it. The body weighs about three pounds which is a pretty light tripod, and I barely even notice the weight on my day to day trips. There is a carbon fiber version that shaves off a little more weight, however the aluminum body has been fine for me.
The legs lock into two positions, either the standard 51 degree angle or a wider 25 degree angle. The wider angle allows for better stability, and allows you to take shots of things closer to the ground. The center column of the Befree tripod is also reversible. This allows you to get even closer to the ground by mounting your camera upside down on the system. This is extremely handy for Macro photography.
The ball head with a quick release mount takes advantage of Manfrotto’s RC2 plates. This offers a lot of versatility since it’s such a common style quick release system. The ball mount is controlled by tightening and releasing a wing screw. This releases tension and allows you to move the camera around to the position you want.
Manfrotto’s BeFree tripod offers all the key features that their tripods are known for. The durability, portability, compactibility, and ease of use make this probably the best tripod on the market for a photographer that has to do a lot of traveling. Over all I myself couldn’t be happier with owning this one and take it with me almost everywhere.