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Benro vs Manfrotto stability comparison (1 Viewer)

Peregrine Took

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I have a Kowa 773 and - because 60x is actually useable - want a more stable tripod than I had for my 60mm Opticron. Has anyone compared the Benro Mach 3 TMA27A to either the Manfrotto 055XPRO3 or the Manfrotto 190X or XPRO? (All current models.)

I'm mostly interested in the stability-to-weight ratio, if that makes sense. But I also prefer lever locks (I can live with twist locks) and three leg sections.

Going only by the specs, the Benro has almost the same tube diameters as the 055, but is lighter (1.75kg) than the 190's (2.0kg) and considerable lighter than the 055 (2.5kg).

The load capacity for the Benro is 12kg, 15kg for the 190's, and 20kg for the 055. Does that indicate that the 190 would be more stable than the Benro, or is stability always down to leg diameter?

Also, does anyone know where Benro is manufactured?

The Benro can be had new for £99.00. I intend to buy a used Manfrotto MVH500AH head to replace an MVH400AH on my BeFree GT (which I've not yet decided whether to sell or keep, as I don't need a travel tripod).

Manufacturers weight ratings are for the most part meaningless when it comes to spotting scopes. What concerns scope users is stiffness and damping; we don’t want our scopes to vibrate while looking through them. Quantitative testing for those parameters is available on a website called, The Center Column. Here’s a link:

Stability isn’t just related to leg diameter, it’s also related to leg wall thicknesses, leg length, tolerances between parts, head design, and other properties.

The Manfrotto 055 is made in Italy, Benro tripods are most likely made in Mainland China.
Sorry not compared them directly.
Leg diameter is only one factor in stability, tube wall thickness and the pivots make a big difference too.

As to where Benro are made it's China
On that basis alone, I'll stay with Manfrotto. Thanks for the replies.
Basing your decision what tripod to buy solely on the country of origin isn't a good idea IMO. I don't know Benro tripods from personal experience, so I can't comment on them. But from what I've seen quite a few Chinese made tripods are pretty solid, e.g. those made by Sirui and Leofoto. They are an alternative to the much more expensive top brands like Sachtler, Gitzo, Really Right Stuff and FLM, to name the most common brands. Or indeed Berlebach, if you want to include wooden tripods. These are better than most Chinese tripods no doubt, but you pay quite a bit more for them. Manfrotto is somewhere in-between. They make some very good tripods, but also some (cheapish) tripods that aren't that good.

BTW, if you want a tripod that works with high magnifications (you mentioned 60x) you need a fairly beefy tripod unless the conditions are perfect with no wind and so on. You also need a really good tripod head. My lightest combination (tripod+head) for use with the ED82 (up to 75x magnification) weighs just over 3 kg, my heavy weight combination that works reasonably well in pretty awful conditions weighs ~5 kg.

There ain't no free lunch when it comes to using scopes at high magnifications.

On that basis alone, I'll stay with Manfrotto. Thanks for the replies.
Do what you will for your own reasons.
If you want to know which is more solid and stable, that's easy. Benro. By far.
The joints at the spider (where the legs meet) are tighter and the Benro legs have collets instead of quick release clamps. Collets are much stiffer. Collets don't require the special tool that comes with the Manfrottos to adjust the leg clamps. Collets don't require any adjustment. The center column on the Benro also has a collet and is quite stiff. The Manfrotto uses a bogus (IMO) screw clamp that isn't very rigid at all. Benros come with both spike feet and rubber feet, your choice. Benros also have better quality cases.

I've had many Manfrotto tripods, inc the 055. I now have 4 Benros, inc the Mach 3.
Benro tripods are very well made and I've never had a failure. I've had one failure on a Manfrotto where a leg clamp cracked.

Benros are essentially knock-offs of Gitzo tripods.
If money is not a concern then by all means get a Gitzo. They're beautifully well made, in Italy. I had a couple of those as well.
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I am after a more robust tripod as my aluminium 190 ain’t good at higher mags with a reasonable load. Berlebach are well regarded, but don’t pack as small and are heavy. I’m currently swinging towards an oversized carbon tripod that seems to be rebranded by several companies and seems to get good press (pity thecentercolumn hasn’t posted new reviews the past few years), I’ll probably have to accept another 0.5-1kg mass though. Im hoping my 500ah doesn’t also need replacing too.

I’m currently swinging towards an oversized carbon tripod...

That might be the way I'll go - with an 055 or Gitzo carbon tripod. Having just spent way too much on a new hifi system I was trying to get the tripod on the cheap, but I might have to swallow the cost and see it as a long-term 'investment', and my scope deserves it. There's always a way to justify these things. :)

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Wasn’t highlighting a specific review….There are plenty of others and Amazon reviews seem mostly very positive (though most Amazon reviews seem to be from new owners, so maybe no good at detecting long term issues). Notes that this one fairly similar toohttps://www.omegon.eu/made-of-carbon/omegon-pro-40mm-carbon-tripod/p,60250 though there are some differences. Looking for as many opinions as I can as I’m not planning on buying more than 1 tripod.

I have an Innorel NT364C since 2021. The tripod is very sturdy and is great for holding an angled 20x70 bino (4.5kgs). I use it during my raptor migration counts (periods of 12 days, three periods/ year) so I don’t know its true durability after a more intense and rugged use than mine which is rather specialized. But for a spottingscope, a tripod like the bigger Innorel RT90 mentioned above - that one can equip with a central column - I think it’s oversized. I was interested in a Benro Induro Classic (BICLT303: 3 series: Does anyone use the Benro Induro Classic (3 series) carbon tripod?) as an all-round tripod for a 80mm scope and I think you might think about it.
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So, I bought a Manfrotto 055CXPRO3, the current model, for £179.00 (plus post) in mint condition from ffordes photographic, UK. Should get it Tuesday - will report back once my scope has been serviced. Now on the hunt for a Manfrotto MVH500AH head.
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That smaller Innorel sounds like just the ticket, robust enough without being crazy sized, will seek out some reviews. Still be interesting to hear how solid the 055 is as it was the tripod I’d first though of.

When I say I'll report back, Peter, please don't expect a scientific comparison, since my current tripod is a four-section Befree GT and my last aluminium 055 (which I used for years for photography) was sold last year, so an 055 side-by-side is not possible.

Strikes me that tripod purchase can be a rabbit hole; the only way to be certain of the best performance is to go and try a few (rarely possible to physically find all the models on a shortlist), or buy a tripod that is almost certain (based on the specs) to be more than adequate for the job... over-engineering, of which I'm fond. After initially thinking about cost-cutting, I came to the conclusion that with the Kowa 773 being as light as many 65mm scopes, the three-section 055 carbon should fall into the category of more than adequate (with the right head).

Whatever comments you have will be useful, how does it handle high powers and wind? Whereas some people collect scopes and tripods and can provide comparisons I think that far fewer collect tripods to do comparisons….

Sorry. Late to the discussion.

I use a Benro Mach 3 TMA 37c tripod for my Kowa 883. I use a Gitzo head. Very stable. Seems far more stable than the Manfrotto 055 that my friend uses with his Swaro 80mm scope. The tripod is certianly made in China but seems very well made and in the 3 years I have had it, it has performed faultlessly apart from me losing a tripod foot. My dealing with the inporter (into the UK) was very easy so I have no hesitation in recommending tripod.
Got the tripod (Manfrotto MT055CX Pro3) - it's like new, so I'm pleased about that. First impressions are that it's sturdy and light. Much sturdier (as you'd expect) and not much heavier than the Befree GT, and the carbon is warm to the touch - it's going to be a lot more comfortable in winter, without gloves, than an aluminium tripod (albeit, aluminium ones do have rubber carrying sleeves). It's a lot lighter than my 055 alloy (but that's just from memory).

I like the ergonomics and positive engagement of the newer Manfrotto flip-locks. When extending the legs, unrestrained, they still make a terminal clunk, but it's not that loud and high-pitched metallic 'clink' that I found disturbing when birding with my old aluminium 055. This never bothered me when using the 055 for photography (no critters to disturb with clumsy operation, except brides and ministers), but it was one of the reasons I thought I might prefer the silent operation of twist-lock legs on the Befree. However, I'm now glad to find that flip-locks on carbon legs operate a little less agriculturally than on the alloy version. Having used twist-locks for the past nine months or so, I never warmed to them (Old Skool, perhaps) and have hankered after a return to flip-locks, for speed of operation - I know people say grab all the twist-locks in one hand and release with a single twist, but I'm adamant that flip-locks are quicker... three legs and two flip-locks are certainly quicker than four legs and three twist locks.

These are just the impressions and preferences of a novice birder (and experienced photographer, if that counts for anything) - experienced birders will have settled on their preferences long ago. I hope my ramblings might be useful for people new to tripods and birding. As I said in a previous post, I'll report back more once I have the scope back from service.
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