Review: Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Aluminum Alloy Tripod (Black)

The Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Aluminum Alloy Tripod is incredibly robust and very reliable.

During my review of the Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Aluminum Alloy Tripod, I started to wonder more and more why photographers actually need tripods these days. Just think about it: newer cameras and lenses have image stabilization in them. Why would I really need a tripod today if I wasn’t shooting video? Landscape photographers have had the answer for years. Tripods like the Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Aluminum Alloy Tripod are fantastic compositional tools in the same way that manual focus lenses force you to put more time into the image making process. They require you to think in a different way and really work to get what’s important to you. It may mean moving back and forth, adjustments, etc. Otherwise, you don’t need to make those movements unless you have a specific goal in mind. And a tripod like the Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Aluminum Alloy Tripod can surely help with this due to its light weight and awesome build quality.

But one really big thing about it annoys me.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Fantastic and perfect for travel
  • Lightweight
  • Reliable
  • Stays secure
  • All the adjustments that a photographer could really need or want at the price point
  • Two way release ensures that your camera doesn’t slip out of the ballhead.

Cons

  • Doesn’t really have a whole lot of support for the Peak Design Capture Clip.

Gear Used

The Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Aluminum Alloy Tripod was tested with the Sony a7r III, 24-105mm f4 G OSS, and a variety of backpacks.

Tech Specs

Tech specs taken from the Manfrotto website

Weight 49.38 oz
Collection/Series Befree
Material Aluminum
Safety Payload Weight 8.82 lbs
Min Height 13.39 in
Maximum Height 56.69 in
Maximum Height (with Center Column Down) 48.43 in
Closed Length 15.75 in
Head Type Ball Head
Legs Tube Diameter 0.89- 0.75- 0.61- 0.47 in
Leg Sections 4
Base Diameter 1.57 in
Leg Angles 25°,51°
Top Attachment 1/4″ screw
Base Type 1.02 in
Ball Locking Yes
Carrying Bag Included 1035,52
Center Column rapid
Color Black
Easy Link No
Friction Control No
Front Tilt -90° / +40°
Independent Pan Lock no
Independent Tilt Lock no
Lateral Tilt -90° / +40°
Leg Type Single
Leg Lock Type Flip Lock
Maximum Working Temperature 140 F
Minimum Working Temperature -22 F
Pan Drag NONE
Panoramic Rotation 360
Plate Type \200LT-PL
Quick Release Yes
Tilt Drag NONE
Upper Disc Diameter 1.57 in

Ergonomics

The Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Aluminum Alloy Tripod folds up even more than what’s pictured in the image above. The tripod has a column that goes all the way up and then the legs come up around that. But if you’re going from place to place fairly quickly, this is how you’d want to have your tripod deployed.

To get the legs outstretched, you’ll turn these knobs. Then the legs will extend out and you’ll be able to turn and fasten them.

These rings are coated with rubber and make gripping them that much better and easier. They’re very comfortable.

This is the area at the top of the legs. The Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Aluminum Alloy Tripod’s legs have buttons to raise the legs and bring them up over the center column.

This tripod comes with a ball head and a plate. The plate is nice and has this little signage that tells you what direction the lens goes. This plate is also pretty quick to screw into the bottom of your camera. To get the camera and plate out of the head, you need to press the black button and then twist the release. It ensures a lot of safety for your camera.

The head also includes these knobs. They control the panning function of the head and also the ball function. A tripod like this can’t control the tension of the ball though, so keep that in mind. For the $189.99 that it costs, you’re getting a whole lot of tripod.

Build Quality

In my tests, I found the Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Aluminum Alloy Tripod to be very good. I really liked that it is made of carbon fiber and therefore is lightweight and doesn’t get cold to the touch when toting it around. What I’d probably like though is the ability to have a hook underneath the center column to anchor my camera bag to.

What’s more important is that it has survived being in airplanes, subways, and other places where it’s bound to take tumbles, and continued to perform flawlessly.

Ease of Use

During the month that I tested the Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Aluminum Alloy Tripod, I found it very straight forward to use. The only thing that sort of gave me trouble was the process of figuring out the button system to raise the tripod legs above the center column. But a bit of fiddling with it made that simple for me. Otherwise, it’s a very standard tripod that will give most photographers who do the occassional video a whole lot of potential. Something else that I really enjoy is again, the design of the tripod plate. It has a split D ring that makes it very easy for your finger to get in there and turn the screw.

Conclusions

There’s a whole lot of praise to be given to the Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Aluminum Alloy Tripod. It’s sturdy, well built, nice to the touch, lightweight for travel, and gives photographers a whole lot of what they need at a fair price. The photographers who will enjoy this tripod are landscape photographers and adventure shooters. So if you’re a photographer who goes about traveling a whole lot, then you’ll enjoy something like this. In addition to that, it’s lightweight enough to the point where it really won’t feel like you’re carrying something extra. Sure, you’ll need to fasten it to your camera bag; but that’s no problem at all.

The Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Aluminum Alloy Tripod receives five out of five stars. Want one? Check out Amazon for the pricing.