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Review Benro C257 M8-1

 

 

 

Review Benro C257 M8 Review Benro C257 M8
Carbon Fiber Classic Tripod
Bought in 2012. Heavy usage until time of writing this review:
mountaineering, swamps, incl. on cold weather with temperature round -20°C.
Date of review: 04.Sep.2016.

I will not enumerate here the specifications of my tripod. By the way, C257 M8 is out of production and is replaced by C2570T, which is very nice described on Benro's homepage. I would just say that I could find the combination of wanted specifications only at Benro and very few other manufacturers by the time I made my choice, back in 2012. This could sound quite strange since my set of wanted specs were actually not very fancy:

Carbon fiber
Legs with only 3 sections. Less joints = better stability and less vibrations. May have a longer folded height, of course.
Diameter of thickest leg ≥ 26mm (C257-M8 has 28mm); this implies also a certain load, which in the end was anyhow larger than I needed.
Rubber twist-locks - these are more reliable on cold weather
Centered design. I do not like tripods which allow the camera to be mounted lateral. Think of induced vibrations.
Normal height higher than 140 cm (with center column down). I prefer to use the tripod with central column down for better vibration damping. I raise the center column only when it is absolutely necessary. I know, Gitzo have their Systematic series without center column - but those cost +1,000 USD/EUR... Beside that, why not have the center column available? You you may need it from time to time, especially on uneven terrain.
Decent price.

Well, all above specs you may have seen at many tripods from various manufacturers. The problem is to find the tripod which has them ALL together in one product. For me it was C257-M8.

One more aspect, worth to know. Look at the part which holds the three legs together, the center support. This part is similar at newer Benro tripods. Here the central support of my old Benro C257-M8:

This is made of magnesium alloy, high strength, light weight. And, more important, look at its shape, which demonstrates proper engineering.

 

So what? Well, before Benro C257-M8 I had a Gitzo G1227 Mk2 carbon fiber tripod. I will not tell you how much I paid for it because I am ashamed. I used it once in a photo session at temperatures round -20°C. During the session the center support was broken only by unfolding the tripod, without applying force to it other than spreading the legs. A closer look at the broken part revealed its poor design, fragility and, believe it or not, that part was made of some poor aluminium alloy which was probably affected by the low temperatures. On the other hand, as I mentioned before, the Benro center support is properly designed, looks very solid and is made from some alloy stronger than aluminium. In the meantime Gitzo has also redesigned their center support. Back in 2012, when I was looking for a new tripod, Benro had the best center support I could see in my short list of tripods.

Oh, speaking of customer support. Gitzo claimed lifetime warranty for the G1227 Mk2 and I requested this to a local dealer. Gitzo explained to me that in lack of the warranty document, which I had lost, they cannot replace the center support for free. I could buy the part for some 200,00 EUR (+ transport cost). I could never understand why a lifetime warranty depends on a document? A document may be needed for a time-limited warranty only. By the way: try Benro customer support. I did it, because I could not find a spare part elsewhere. Within few days everything was solved in a friendly and professional manner.

Bottom line, I am very pleased with my Benro C257-M8. Used in swamps, on uneven terrain, during very cold weather. Works fine, it is easy to operate, it is light. The metal spokes are a very useful accessory, the hook on the bottom of the central column as well. Working with reversed central column requires some patience to make the arrangement and to get used with the up-side-down camera, but in the end you obtain a very solid rig for close-up / macro photography. The Benro C257-M8 is specified with 12 Kg maximal load. Heaviest equipment used on my Benro C257-M8 until now: 5D3 + EF100-400 f/4.5-5.6L II IS USM + EF 1.4x II (+ sometimes Godox Flash V860). With quick release plates and tripod head this weighs some 4.3 Kg. Of course, for best results you also need a good tripod head and you need to carefully balance your equipment. 

One note related to weight of equipment. If the manufacturer says a certain tripod holds a maximum load of, say 12 Kg, this means just as they say - the tripod holds max. 12 Kg. This does not mean by far that if you load it with 12 Kg it will damp vibrations properly. So, be careful when you make your choice! Buy the most solid tripod which you are willing to carry with you; and with a decent price, so that your wife will not divorce you afterwards :).

 

You may see my photos here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/cristian_alexe/albums

Alexe.Cristian@gmail.com

Bucharest, Romania

04.Sep.2016

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