I don’t do much tripod work. Most of my stuff is constantly on-the-go travel, so I opt to go handheld and do the best I can to get a relatively steady shot.
But then an opportunity came up to shoot a little documentary short on cycling in Hamburg, Germany for Streetfilms. I was excited to do something a little different, but was not prepared equipment-wise for shooting. That’s when Manfrotto came in to save the day with their Befree Carbon Fiber Tripod.
I went with this model for a couple of reasons. First, its reported weight of 1.1 kilograms (2.4 pounds) was appealing from a traveling perspective. The 100 percent carbon fiber legs promised a solid and transportable tripod. I don’t care how much you hit the gym,you don’t want a heavy tripod dragging you down when constantly on the move. Overuse injuries can become a risk not to mention the possibility of turning into a sweaty blob when forced to haul a heavy piece equipment across town. I’m not sure how you like conducting interviews, but showing up with giant pit stains is not the most professional look.
The second reason I was drawn to this model was the size. No, not talking about the weight again. Rather I’m talking about the actual length of the tripod, which has a folding length of only 40 centimeters (15.7 inches). At its maximum height it can hit about 142 centimeters (55.91 inches), meaning you’re not sacrificing the ability to put together a proper setup based on its folding length.
I had very little time to put this piece in Hamburg together. I arrived at night, had one full-day of filming, then another morning before having to grab my train out of town. If you’ve seen a Streetfilms production before, you know they feature a ton of b-roll. That means the camera needs to be constantly rolling and that the shooter needs to always be moving in order to get another shot. Keep in mind I also had to squeeze in a few interviews around town.
After all was said and done, I can say without a shred of doubt that it was love at first sight with the Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fiber Tripod. Weight was never an issue as I moved about town and I found it very easy to grab a stable shot without unfolding the legs. Considering sometimes a shot comes without much notice — in this case, cyclists riding by — it was important for me to have the ability to shoot off one leg and still get a stable shot. As you can see in the finished film, this tripod proved to be a lifesaver.
Shooting with the Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fiber Tripod was comfortable and easy. If you’re a professional travel photographer or filmmaker, it’s definitely worth the investment.
The Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fiber Tripod is available for $349.99.
Disclaimer: Manfrotto provided a sample product for review. As always, all opinions are my own.