In Travel

Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fiber Tripod Review

Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fiber Tripod - JoeBaur

I don’t do much tripod work. Most of my stuff is constantly on-the-go travel, so I opt to go handheld and do the best I can to get a relatively steady shot.

But then an opportunity came up to shoot a little documentary short on cycling in Hamburg, Germany for Streetfilms. I was excited to do something a little different, but was not prepared equipment-wise for shooting. That’s when Manfrotto came in to save the day with their Befree Carbon Fiber Tripod.

I went with this model for a couple of reasons. First, its reported weight of 1.1 kilograms (2.4 pounds) was appealing from a traveling perspective. The 100 percent carbon fiber legs promised a solid and transportable tripod. I don’t care how much you hit the gym,you don’t want a heavy tripod dragging you down when constantly on the move. Overuse injuries can become a risk not to mention the possibility of turning into a sweaty blob when forced to haul a heavy piece equipment across town. I’m not sure how you like conducting interviews, but showing up with giant pit stains is not the most professional look.

Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fiber Tripod Folded - JoeBaur

The second reason I was drawn to this model was the size. No, not talking about the weight again. Rather I’m talking about the actual length of the tripod, which has a folding length of only 40 centimeters (15.7 inches). At its maximum height it can hit about 142 centimeters (55.91 inches), meaning you’re not sacrificing the ability to put together a proper setup based on its folding length.

I had very little time to put this piece in Hamburg together. I arrived at night, had one full-day of filming, then another morning before having to grab my train out of town. If you’ve seen a Streetfilms production before, you know they feature a ton of b-roll. That means the camera needs to be constantly rolling and that the shooter needs to always be moving in order to get another shot. Keep in mind I also had to squeeze in a few interviews around town.

After all was said and done, I can say without a shred of doubt that it was love at first sight with the Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fiber Tripod. Weight was never an issue as I moved about town and I found it very easy to grab a stable shot without unfolding the legs. Considering sometimes a shot comes without much notice — in this case, cyclists riding by — it was important for me to have the ability to shoot off one leg and still get a stable shot. As you can see in the finished film, this tripod proved to be a lifesaver.

Shooting with the Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fiber Tripod was comfortable and easy. If you’re a professional travel photographer or filmmaker, it’s definitely worth the investment.

The Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fiber Tripod is available for $349.99.

Disclaimer: Manfrotto provided a sample product for review. As always, all opinions are my own.

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