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Old Sunday 19th March 2017, 03:39   #1
rka
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Manfrotto Befree Live - Any good?

For a small tripod with fluid head, how useful for bird photos with 300/4 type lens? Expect will be very shaky with slight breeze.
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Old Sunday 19th March 2017, 22:24   #2
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Whilst the 300 F4 is a light lens and pretty much any tripod will support it - supporting it steadily is another matter! In the Manfrotto range I would not go smaller than an 055 series tripod - just my 2p! I freely admit that I am a bit of a tripod junkie!

Ideally I would suggest a 2 series Gitzo but these are very expensive new and not cheap second hand - unless you are lucky! Keep an eye on Flea Bay, bargains do come along occasionally. Another brand to look at is Feisol. Two friends of mine have their Tournament models:

http://www.feisoleurope.com/rapid-tr...ds-c-1_14.html

They have one of each model and they are very good by any standards though I prefer the 3 leg section version. Note these Feisol tripods are very light but are sturdy and damp down vibration well. Also have a look at the Benro and Induro ranges - I am not familiar enough with them to make a recommendation but I hear good things about them.

Just a thought but is a Fluid Head the best choice for photography? Personally I hate fluid heads for photography but consider them essential for spotting scopes. I am not saying that you should buy one but I would consider a Gimbal head as I much prefer these for photography - just my opinion. Check out the Lensmaster range - cheap and cheerful but they work!
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Old Wednesday 24th May 2017, 21:48   #3
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I've purchased one, received it today.

In a single word: WOW!

I own a MT190XPRO3 with a MVH500AH head and the Befree is not as stable as the former, but it's more than perfectly usable with my scope (65 mm Celestron Regal M2). It can be a bit wobbly if you look through the scope without holding the handle, and the lack of counterbalance makes it necessary anyway. But it works very well as long as you hold it properly. Maybe the fluid head could be just a bit stiffer but nevertheless it's a good compromise. More resistance would make it uncomfortable for still photography.

The fluid head is surprisingly good for its size (and price!). Of course I miss the counterbalance spring in the MVH500AH. But the weight of the MT190XPRO3 and head is 2.9 Kg, while the Befree is 1.8. That's quite a difference! And it's much smaller of course.

If you want to shoot video with a bridge camera the fluid head can really help. And the ball leveling system is awesome, although it has some design problem: it's tricky to adjust because it tends to drift a bit while you tighten it. Must be an artifact of the way the threaded piece tightens over the ball. But with a bit of care you can adjust it very well and it's much more convenient than fiddling with the legs anyway.

Now, a nice surprise: It's compatible with the 500PLONG plate used on the MVH500AH.It accepts it and the safety mechanism locks perfectly. Surprisingly Manfrotto doesn't mention this fact. And it's really good news, as the much longer plate can really help to balance a long object such as a spotting scope.

In my case it's even better, I don't need to switch plates in my scope!

More awesome news. My bag is a Lowepro Scope Travel 200 AW. Surprise! The darn thing fits inside when folded!

I am not that tall, 1.7 m. So the tripod works well for me without extending the central column. I guess that it will compromise stability a bit for taller people. And the legs are surprisingly good even when the four sections are fully extended. The last leg section is really thin, but it stays remarkably stable.
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Old Tuesday 1st August 2017, 22:19   #4
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Thanks. I've been looking for a hiking tripod primarily for use as a video tripod for a mirrorless camera plus long lens.

Will buy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Borjam View Post
I've purchased one, received it today.

In a single word: WOW!

I own a MT190XPRO3 with a MVH500AH head and the Befree is not as stable as the former, but it's more than perfectly usable with my scope (65 mm Celestron Regal M2). It can be a bit wobbly if you look through the scope without holding the handle, and the lack of counterbalance makes it necessary anyway. But it works very well as long as you hold it properly. Maybe the fluid head could be just a bit stiffer but nevertheless it's a good compromise. More resistance would make it uncomfortable for still photography.

The fluid head is surprisingly good for its size (and price!). Of course I miss the counterbalance spring in the MVH500AH. But the weight of the MT190XPRO3 and head is 2.9 Kg, while the Befree is 1.8. That's quite a difference! And it's much smaller of course.

If you want to shoot video with a bridge camera the fluid head can really help. And the ball leveling system is awesome, although it has some design problem: it's tricky to adjust because it tends to drift a bit while you tighten it. Must be an artifact of the way the threaded piece tightens over the ball. But with a bit of care you can adjust it very well and it's much more convenient than fiddling with the legs anyway.

Now, a nice surprise: It's compatible with the 500PLONG plate used on the MVH500AH.It accepts it and the safety mechanism locks perfectly. Surprisingly Manfrotto doesn't mention this fact. And it's really good news, as the much longer plate can really help to balance a long object such as a spotting scope.

In my case it's even better, I don't need to switch plates in my scope!

More awesome news. My bag is a Lowepro Scope Travel 200 AW. Surprise! The darn thing fits inside when folded!

I am not that tall, 1.7 m. So the tripod works well for me without extending the central column. I guess that it will compromise stability a bit for taller people. And the legs are surprisingly good even when the four sections are fully extended. The last leg section is really thin, but it stays remarkably stable.
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Old Thursday 17th August 2017, 03:07   #5
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Just got the Befree Live kit and setup my OMD EM5 with Pana 100-400mm lens.

So far, looks like a good buy. A bit heavier than expected but much lighter and compact than my 3221 + 501 setup.

More stable than I expected and the fluid head works quite well, but with adjustment limitations.

Will test inthe the field this weekend.



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Thanks. I've been looking for a hiking tripod primarily for use as a video tripod for a mirrorless camera plus long lens.

Will buy.
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Old Friday 18th August 2017, 05:05   #6
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Did my first field test today with EM5 + Panny 100-400mm lens.

The tripod supports the weight well enough and is overall very portable. However the video head is not really an improvement from a standard ball head at 800mm equivalent focal length. Controlled panning at 800mm with the light tripod legs is pretty useless and a much sturdier rig is required for that.

In summary, good kit but the carbon befree version with the ball head may have been a better option for my use case. For those using at much shorter focal lengths (i.e. not birds), the video head and lighter legs should be just fine.




Quote:
Originally Posted by rka View Post
Just got the Befree Live kit and setup my OMD EM5 with Pana 100-400mm lens.

So far, looks like a good buy. A bit heavier than expected but much lighter and compact than my 3221 + 501 setup.

More stable than I expected and the fluid head works quite well, but with adjustment limitations.

Will test inthe the field this weekend.
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