I had a trip planned to Bosnia & Herzegovina in September but it wasn't going to be a landscape photography trip, more of a social visit but as we all know if the chance comes up to get in some photography then we would all take it.
I wasn't going to take all my photography gear, I just wanted the absolute minimum so I could chuck it in a small ruck sack and be mobile and snatch an opportunity should it arise.
The Canon EOS R was a perfect lightweight body to take, I was going to stick with just one lens, a Canon RF 24-105 mm and a couple of filters and originally I had intended to shoot handheld as I figured most of my chances would come during the day only so the light would be good enough for it.
The more I looked at the landscapes of Bosnia & Herzegovina the more I started to think I would much sooner have a tripod with me as there was plenty of lakes and panorama opportunity's and being able to smooth out the water might make a more appealing shot.
My Current Tripod of choice is a Gitzo one which I absolutely adore but lets be clear, a travel tripod it isn't !
It's a big old unit and despite being carbon fibre its still pretty heavy, add to that the large Benro B4 ball head I use plus a Gitzo panning bowl base for panoramas and it soon stacks up the size and weight.
Carrying it on a plane in a small hand luggage bag wasn't going to be an option, plus I wanted it to be small and inconspicuous as possible.
I had a look around to see what was out there and there were a few travel tripods, The usual manufactures offered a few options, some better than others but choice was surprisingly good.
I have been using a Benro B4 Ball head for a long time now and have found it faultless and Benro as a company had been extremely helpful with various things in the past so I felt they would be the best choice for this.
After chatting with Benro they gave me a few different options and I settled on the Benro iFOTO FIF19CIB0 carbon fibre travel tripod.
I was originally going to go for an aluminium version as the weight difference between the two was so minimal it would have made very little difference.
1.64 kg for the aluminium version and 1.41 kg (3.1 lbs) for the carbon fibre version, The price for the aluminium version was £120.00 RRP and the carbon fibre version at £230.00 RRP so it seemed that the aluminium version was the better buy, that was until I saw Wex Photographic had a special offer on the Benro iFOTO FIF19CIB0 carbon fibre version with a huge £105 off it making it £125, so basically £5 more than the standard aluminium version, a no brainer and it was ordered with the satisfying feeling of having bagged a bargain.
The usual agonising wait for the delivery man had started.
I had many preconceived ideas of how this tripod would be before I purchased it, I have to admit I thought it would probably be quite unstable and a bit "cheap" to be honest but would "do" for the purposes of what I wanted it for.
When it actually arrived to say I was surprised was an understatement ! I was absolutely over the moon, It was awesome !
The size of it all folded up was perfect for my needs, it was an incredibly compact 34.8 cm (13.7 inches) from top to bottom and only 30 cm when measured around the body meaning it would fit in my hand luggage with ease, in fact it was almost as small as my overnight wash bag !
The finish was exactly as Id expect from Benro, absolute quality with beautiful deep carbon fibre legs, twist locks on the legs for extra stability and Benro's trademark blue finishings which I believe are magnesium.
There were nice touches on the tripod such as one of the legs having the foam hand grip to make it a bit more comfortable to carry and not quite so cold to touch in the depths of winter, not that this would be an issue as Bosnia & Herzegovina was running 40 degree temperatures !
There were a set of spiked feet which could be quickly swopped over with the standard rubber base ones with a simple twist screw fitting which would come in handy for softer ground or if there was wind, plus an allen key to adjust the tension on the leg screws.
The tripod came in a nicely padded zip bag with a carry strap so you could easily wear it over the shoulder or round your waist if needed, once again in the Benro black & blue colour scheme.
There was a small spring loaded retractable hook on the base of the centre column which you could hang a bag off if you needed some extra stability on the tripod, a really nice touch.
I noticed that one of the legs actually could be twisted off and then extended you had a walking pole or a handy monopod ! I mean I couldn't see myself using it but the fact it was there was great and really showed some fabulous innovation from Benro.
I had intended to go up a few mountains so I didn't write off the idea as it may well come in handy.
There were 5 leg sections and the tripod extends to 146.5 cm (57.7 inches) including the double extending centre column.
Again this was a pleasant surprise just how tall it went, being a tall guy at 6' 2" it would mean I wouldn't have to suffer in order to take a shot.
The Benro iFOTO FIF19CIB0 was capable of carrying up to 8kg (17.6 lbs) which was easily enough for the set up I was going to be taking.
The price also includes the IB0 ball head which, as you would expect on a travel tripod was nicely compact but certainly didn't lack features.
A full panning base was fitted, which would come in very handy for doing panoramas of the mountains and lakes in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
A tensioner control and the "full control" twist knob to enable the ball head to be levelled correctly.
Speaking of levelling it came with a spirit level bubble which was actually mounted underneath the camera mounting plate, which to be honest didn't seem like the best place for it as you would have to remove your camera every time you wanted to check you were level.
It would have made more sense if it was on the outside of the ball head BUT I do get that this has been built to be compact and also not at a premium price so it was a minor issue.
The ball head was fully removable so if you did want to use a more substantial one then this could be done but the size would obviously cause an issue if you tried to pack down the tripod but I liked the fact I could do it if I wanted too.
The ball head also came with a magnesium blue adaptor plate for your camera which was in the traditional style "Arca" mount set up, although I wouldn't be using this as I had my L bracket, but it was very handy to have a spare.
The tripod has five leg sections and they were very easy and fast to extend as when closed all of the twist locks on each leg could be operated in one simple twist at the same time.
The legs have fixed "lock" positions as with most tripods which gave you and angles of 23, 55 & 80 degrees but you could put these in-between and the tripod still seemed pretty stable so there was a lot of scope for me to use this on the uneven mountain surfaces I expected to encounter in Bosnia & Herzegovina
It was also possible to put all three legs completely flat should you want to but the length of the centre column was still the minimum height available, but I wouldn't personally have much need for that anyway.
Now I have to say, at this point I was super impressed with the Benro iFOTO FIF19CIB0, it had exceeded expectations in terms of quality and innovation and the value for money factor was simply off the scale.
The proof would be in the using though and originally I was going to wait till I had gone to Bosnia & Herzegovina to use it but I just couldn't, I was so excited to try it out and planned a few early morning trips to the New Forest in Hampshire to give it a trial run and perhaps even get the Canon 100-400 mm lens out to really test things !
The first opportunity to use the Benro iFOTO FIF19CIB0 tripod came in mid August with an early morning pre work visit to the New Forest in Hampshire in search of some mist.
I added it to the side of the back pack and threw it over my shoulder, the first thing that hit me was just how much of a difference in weight there was compared to my usual set up, it was extreme to say the least, to be expected though as they are two completely different products for entirely different purposes but even so I was already enjoying the weight saving benefits of the Benro tripod.
The set up is very fast with the twist locks all being able to be done at once on each leg, and after a quick bit of fiddling the tripod was levelled up and the Canon EOS R and RF 24-105 lens were added via an Arca style L bracket.
It felt very good, no wobble and pretty solid. At this point there was no wind to test the tripod out properly but it was a good start to get to grips with the basics of it.
I extended the centre column to its full length and again it was nice and stable but I did notice that if you were adjusting anything then there was a small bit of vibration up the centre column to the camera which would result in a blurred shot, but it should be pointed out that I was purposely knocking the tripod too see how this effect would be amplified.
As a rule if I was shooting with the centre column fully extended then I would wait at least a couple of seconds before triggering the remote shutter release to ensure a sharp picture.
With the centre column all the way down it felt a lot more stable and I was able to make a pan adjustment and be confident to shoot right away as this vastly increased the stability of the camera body.
I tried the legs in the various positions right down to the 23 degree lock position and again all seemed stable with the centre column as far down as possible.
At no point did it ever feel flimsy and always seemed like it was capable of holding a much heavier weight than the 8kg limit of which is indicated.
All of the images I took were tack sharp and no vibration with the centre column down, and the ones where it was fully extended were all good too subject to me waiting a couple of seconds after tightening everything up.
The lack of wind had made the testing a bit easier for the Benro so I decided I would give it a go in much more windy conditions, plus I wanted to test the ball head out with the heavy weight of the 100-400 lens and Canon 5D mk III body as I wanted to see if it would suffer the dreaded lens creep !
Second Trip Out
Windy conditions soon presented themselves and a trip to the coast was on to see how the Benro iFOTO FIF19CIB0 tripod coped with uneven rocky ground.
Levelling the tripod was again fast and easy and the spirit level bubble on top confirmed it was all straight. The 5D mk III and 16-35 mm lens was added and again it sat nicely on the tripod with no hint of wobble while the column was in its lowest position.
Test shots were taken and they were sharp and vibration free.
I decided to add the 100-400 mm lens into the mix along with the 5D which really is quite a heavy weight set up, couple that with high winds and a true test was on.
The Benro didn't let me down though and remained vibration free and the ball head was doing a nice job and not suffering from any noticeable creeping as long as it was tightened up nicely.
I decided to extend the centre column with the full weight of the lens and camera and this is where I started to encounter a slight bit of wobble after adjusting the head, but thats really to be expected with the weight of this set up, it wasn't actually as bad as I was expecting but equally it wouldn't really be something I could put up with so the centre column was dropped again to make it all rock solid.
Now it has to be said here that the tests I was doing with this tripod are beyond what its actually meant for really, It's a travel tripod designed to be lightweight and compact and handle lighter gear and that it did with ease so full credit to Benro for that.
The Benro iFOTO FIF19CIB0 travel tripod does exactly what it says on the tin, its light, compact and packed full of innovative features for what I feel is a very reasonable price.
The tripod is super stable and solid when used with the centre column down and I trusted it, with the centre column up I would suggest just giving it a second or two to "settle" just to be sure of no vibration.
The design and look of this tripod is really nice too and those that like a bit of eye candy will be equally pleased as those who want a functional tripod.
The build quality is first class and is backed up with Benro's huge five year warranty and excellent customer service.
As it stands I really am exceptionally happy with this as a travel tripod and I would even consider taking it as a regular tripod for quick trips or long hikes alike.
I can't comment on the long term use of this yet as its all very new but I will update the review after 6 months to a year to give you an isight into its durability.
For the money I paid for it I don't think you can go wrong, Even at the full RRP I don't think its a bad buy at all, packed full of features, strong and stable and it's exactly what I needed for the purposes of traveling light.
Build Quality 9/10
Value For Money 9/10 (this would actually be 10/10 if its purchased on summer offer)
TOTAL 45/50 90%
As always, Happy Shooting
*As always all my reviews completely unbiased and are for items I have purchased with my own hard earned cash and are never influenced by manufactures, Just real world findings of a fellow landscape photographer.
Benro can be reached by clicking the link HERE