Man­frotto Be Free MKBFRA 4-BH £130, $200

Small but strong, the BeFree of­fers a good com­pro­mise between rigid­ity and easy car­ry­ing

NPhoto - - Test Team -

Fea­tur­ing four sec­tions per leg, the Man­frotto doesn’t fold down quite as small as the Giot­tos or Vel­bon tripods. How­ever, at 40cm it’s among the most com­pact in the group when folded. Un­usu­ally it fea­tures clip locks but, as with a num­ber of Man­frotto’s full-sized de­signs, all three locks on each leg can be opened and closed si­mul­ta­ne­ously and sin­gle­handed when the legs are in their short­est con­fig­u­ra­tion.

At 143cm the max­i­mum height is a lit­tle more im­pres­sive than that of the Giot­tos, al­though it doesn’t go as low with­out in­vert­ing the cen­tre col­umn (35cm in­stead of 24cm). It’s also rather heav­ier than the Giot­tos and Vel­bon, at 1.53kg, but has a max­i­mum load rat­ing of 4kg rather than 3kg.

Per­for­mance

Rigid­ity is good for a light­weight tripod and head. The ball head lacks an ad­justable fric­tion damper or pan-only lock but is smooth in op­er­a­tion. It uses a 200PL quick-re­lease plate, like most Man­frotto heads, which could be use­ful if you’re adding to your ex­ist­ing Man­frotto col­lec­tion. To help the legs close tightly, the head’s mount­ing plate has cut­away sec­tions, but you need to re­move the quick re­lease plate to take ad­van­tage of this, and stow it sep­a­rately or leave it at­tached to your cam­era.

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