Testing the Benro Mach3 on the Coast of France
In my journey in photography I seem to have got through a large number of tripods, more so than cameras, lenses and any other accessory. I’ve never found the right balance of weight, sturdiness and quality that I’ve craved. Working predominantly on coastal scenes means I’ve often lost feet, and suffered the effects of saltwater corrosion and sand ingress on a regular basis. My last tripod had the head corroded onto the legs, had a broken quick release clamp and one of the legs now flapped about aimlessly.
I knew it was time for a new one but rather than just diving in, I set off to the Photography Show in Birmingham with a list of potential manufacturers to review. I was clear on my needs:
After trawling various stands I got to the Benro one and had a look at their range. The sales guy was very helpful, I went through what I was after and tried various legs, extending to full length and testing the stability. The Mach3 series seemed perfect, very solid tubes, exceptionally well made with easy to use twist locks. After comparing the various models I decided the TMA48CL gave me the best combination of weight and stability.
Next it was looking for a suitable head. Having had a smaller ball head in the past that would allow the camera to tilt wildly as soon as it was loosened at all, I was after something larger that I hoped would support the weight of my camera a bit better without allowing any unwanted movement. The range of low profile heads – the G series – looked like they would do that exact job, so I decided on the G3.
I couldn’t get my chosen ‘rig’ from the show, so on returning home I ordered it from Park Cameras. My new kit duly arrived, and on unpacking it I wasn’t disappointed. The legs came in a nice bag and case combination with a set of spiked feet and a small centre column along with the tools for changing them. Together the legs and head looked great, with the blue anodised ball of the head complimenting the blue collar of the tripod.
So the rig looked great and felt great, but how would it perform in practice. I had to wait a few weeks before my next big trip away, joining Jonathan Chritchley on one of his Ocean Capture workshops to the West Coast of France. This trip was to include shooting the fascinating fishing huts of the Gironde Estuary along with other locations along the coast culminating in capturing some of the waves on the beaches of Hossegor. The combination of capturing long exposure images and fast action would definitely be a great test for the new tripod.
It didn’t take long to get used to the new ‘rig’. The legs were great and the ball head was a revelation. It has an Arca style clamp and this married perfectly with the L Bracket that I have that is purpose designed for my Canon 5 series body. The head was smooth and exceptionally easy to position to get my desired composition.
The 50mp of my Canon 5dsr can show up the slightest movement during exposures of several minutes, but I’m pleased to report that the Benro combination was absolutely rock steady at all times.
Here are some of the images captured during the trip:
For the wave shots I wanted to be ‘fluid’ with my compositions and react as the waves formed. I shot with a high shutter speed, but still kept the camera on the tripod to help with weight and stability. I had the ball head loosened off to allow me to follow and pan with the waves as I needed to and this seemed to work really well. I was stood in the surf for most of these shots with the tripod legs buried in the sand. Once I’d rinsed them off a bit they seemed to suffer no ill effects at all.
As well as the huts and waves we visited several other locations and came away with a variety of images.
I had a few hours to kill in the airport on the way home, so sat outside a cafe I thought I’d give the tripod a bit of a clean down. The twist lock legs allowed me to easily take apart the tube sections and give them a good brush out and wipe down to get rid of any sand that had got in. This process only took a few minutes and the legs looked as good as new.
Overall I'm extremely impressed with this tripod and head combination and can't wait to take it on my next photo adventure.
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