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Benbo trekker - which head

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Old Sunday 14th August 2011, 13:39   #1
Nick Cable
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Benbo trekker - which head

Have just got hold of a Canon 100mm f2.8 USM macro lens and am trying to use it on an old Benbo Trekker MK1. The thread seems to be 1/4" not 3/8" (on both ends of centre column) although this is not a great problem as I can use an adaptor, but this tripod does not seem geared for a pro DSLR and decent macro lens.

In any case I was wondering what tripod head people use for macro/flower work on this tripod. I have a 5D MK11 and with the lens seems quite heavy. I normally do landscapes and have a kirk bracket fitted to the camera body.

Thanks in advance,
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Old Sunday 14th August 2011, 15:11   #2
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For macro work I always used a Manfrotto 322RC Heavy-Duty Ball Grip head - to be fair I also use this head for a lot of scope work too and it is amazing.

My setup was a Canon 20D, battery grip, Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro, Canon MR-14 ringflash, cable release and there was never a moments instability

It should fit your Benbo without any problems.

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Old Sunday 14th August 2011, 15:42   #3
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The Mk 1 Benbo Trekker was originally brought out when both slrs and macro lenses were usually smaller and lighter than the current offerings. It has been brought up to date over the years and the current version is better as the 'centre column' has a much better swivel head and the more positive leg clamping mechanism overcomes many of the problems with the original (n.b. I still own an original Mk 1)

For macro use I'm afraid that I largely stuck to their original full size Benbo which would take the much more sturdy 4 way head (very rare beast) on a 3/8th thread, it was far more stable and vibrated less. This setup was rigid enough to mount an additional focussing rack if required.

However, the usual way of using the original Trecker for close up work was to replace the Mk 1 ball & socket head with something that clamped the camera into position more positively, use the sliding column to get rough position and fine focus on the lens from then on.

Preferably the camera is 'hung' inverted on the end of the column, as this provides the most rigid configuration.

For the Trecker (and other tripods) in other configurations, I often use a small table tripod (or brick) to stabilise the end of horizontally extended tripod columns for macro use.

A remote release was fairly vital on the Mk 1 Trecker to prevent vibrations from tripping the shutter, as was a mirror lock, however the self timer was a reasonable substitute.

While many people have used a Mk 1 Trecker for excellent macro results I personally think that you will find it easier using something else. As you may gather I find the trecker more useful as an all weather tripod as its construction shrugs off salt, mud, thunderstorms and most other nasties.

The main mistake made, as you may be aware, is to loosen the main clamp for a slight adjustment of a leg and then watch your camera and lens plunge into the ground as the centre column comes free, most Benbo or Uniloc users have come close or suffered this at some time!

Just seen Karl's post I agree about the Manfrotto head, but still have concerns about the choice of tripod - still you can always try it and seee if its OK for you.

Last edited by iveljay : Sunday 14th August 2011 at 15:49.
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Old Tuesday 16th August 2011, 07:15   #4
Nick Cable
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Hi guys, thanks very much for your posts. I have managed to resurrect a manfrotto 486 ballhead that I thought I had sold and this seems to work ok. However, I don't think the setup is as stable as it should be - the MK1 does not seem to be designed to take the weight - as you mention above Iveljay. In anycase it is enough to get me going for now and live view will help. I will look at the other benbo models for comparisson.
Many thanks for your replies...
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