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Manfrotto Befree live

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Old Wednesday 24th May 2017, 21:40   #1
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Manfrotto Befree live

(I posted this on the photography/digiscoping area by mistake. As my main use case involves a scope, I am copying my post here.)

I've purchased a Manfrotto Befree Live, 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 drag would make it uncomfortable for still photography. A word of caution: the locking knobs are just locking knobs. It's not possible to use them to adjust drag.

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.

Last edited by Borjam : Thursday 25th May 2017 at 08:36. Reason: Corrected a couple of errors
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Old Friday 26th May 2017, 01:05   #2
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More on Manfrotto Beefree live fluid head for use with spotting scopes:

To follow up on Borjam’s post, I recently bought the little Beefree fluid head for use on my Oben CT 3481 leg set. I am extremely impressed with the way this head works with the two scopes I have (Helios Fieldmaster ED 60 DS/Saker, and Opticron MM3 with HDF eyepiece).

Pan and tilt movements are tensioned and locked by separate knobs ; in practice both movements are very smooth once adjusted and the scope stays where it’s pointed – I have the sense this head would handle the 4kg maximum rated load quite easily.

I wanted my tripod set up to be highly portable, i.e. to fit in a carry-on bag for travel, as well as provide adequate support. This head is ideal for my needs. The legs weigh 1.7kg (3.8 lb) and the head just 380g (13oz); overall length when folded is around 49 cm (19 in).

Highly recommended!
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