As you may know, I recently had the opportunity to photograph and hike a half loop of the Yosemite High Sierra Camps. My pack, without a tripod, was approximately 35 pounds and I desperately needed to figure out a way to shed some weight. Our friend, Gary Farber, from Hunts Photo and Video
suggested that we try out the MeFOTO RoadTrip Travel Tripod
. Editor's Note - Before I go on, there is a 10% coupon at the end of this review for people who are interested in purchasing a MeFoto tripod at the end of this review.
The tripod arrived about a week prior to my trip out West. I was immediately impressed by the size, fit and finish of the RoadTrip. The model that was sent was an Aluminum one. They also produce the tripod in a carbon fiber. Fully compacted, the tripod measures only 15.6 inches and weighs a scant 2.8 pounds (3.6 pounds with head). The carbon fiber model weighs even less, coming in at 2.3 pounds, without a head. This is a huge improvement over my set of legs, which weigh approximately 4.8 pounds without a head. Hiking is a game of ounces, not pounds. Given that I had long hikes with huge elevation changes, I realized immediately that having the RoadTrip was going to a real advantage.The following photo wase take of the RoadTrip with my cellphone during one of our few breaks up to the Vogelsang High Camp. Please pardon the graininess and poor texture of the images.
The tripod comes with legs that open in four sections. Without using the column, the tripod opens to approximately 54 inches. I found the column on the Road Trip to be really quite tight when extended and locked for general use. With the column extended, the tripod raises to 61.4 inches over-all. However, I generally do not use the column extended as I believe that it provides the added potential for camera shake. I am often photographing at very narrow apertures with very long exposures. I also have a really horrible habit of photographing with filters that are being hand-held, as I attempt to 'dodge and burn' the light in-camera. When you add these elements together, the tripod needs to be perfectly still when I am photographing. Any additional shake and the images won't come out (and defeats the purpose of purchasing a tripod). Fortunately, MeFOTO sells both a big brother (GlobeTrotter) and little brother (BackPacker) to the RoadTrip so that the tripod can meet your specific height needs. For the purposes that I was using it, the RoadTrip tripod did better than fine.
The tripod specs indicate that it will support up to 17.6 pounds. That matches the specs on the tripod I own, which is nearly double the size. Given the tripod's tiny foot print, that is pretty impressive. During the course of the trip, the most I ever held on it was about 6 pounds (my 5d Mark III, Grip, L Bracket and the 70-200 F2.8L). I can say unequivocally that the tripod was perfectly steady. I apologize for cross-posting images, but I feel that a photographic example is worth a lot more than my verbiage. If you wish to see more photos taken with this tripod, please feel free to view our article, "Hiking and Photographing the Yosemite High SIerra Camps."
Every single photograph was taken using the MeFoto tripod (except the shot of my boots and the shot of the tripod on my bag).
Fletcher Peak at Sunset at Vogelsang High Sierra Camp
50mm, 1.3 Second Exposure, F22, ISO 100
Before someone asks me, "Why was that shot not taken at F8?" Let me answer simply, "it could not have been done at F8." Keeping objects sharp in the foreground at the same time of keeping objects in the background sharp (enough) is just one reason why having a tripod in landscape photography is an absolute must. If you would like to know more about hyperfocal depth of field, here is a great free Depth of Field Calculator
you can use.
I initially swapped out the head in favor of my Acra Tech GV2. When I got back to NY though, I replaced the manufacturer's head back on the tripod and used it for my next several outings. I have to say that when you consider the price point, I am really impressed by the quality of the head that they sent with the tripod. I say this for a couple of reasons. The first is that it really holds the weight well. While I have not used any 'big' lenses on it, I have certainly put the same set-up I used on my hike and it performs superbly. The second thing that I like is that it comes with an Arca Compatible head and plate. This means that I don't have to take off my Kirk L Bracket in order to use the tripod.
Photo of Head
Photo of camera on tripod
The price point of this tripod cannot be beaten. The model that was sent to me sells for $189 dollars, head included. The carbon fiber equivalent sells for $329 dollars. I think that this is a steal for a product like this. The tripod has some unique features, including the ability to take off one of the legs and turn it into a monopod. While I have forsworn monopods for any sort of landscape work, there are times when a monopod comes in very handy. For example, photographing in places where tripods are not allowed (like many museums, botanical gardens, etc).
Photo of my unscrewing the leg to create a monopod.
Photo of the monopod created.
One of the other features I really like about this tripod are the locking mechanisms on the legs. While the look essentially every other tripod on the market, when they open fully they 'click.' I found this to be a really nice feature, particularly when I was working in the dark.
Locking Mechanism "Clicks" when open.
Was there anything I did not like about the tripod? No. The tripod performed exactly how I needed it to in every situation. This tripod is pretty much perfect for anyone who is looking for a light weight tripod. I think it is absolutely perfect for backpacking, and I am debating purchasing one for running around Manhattan. I always carry a camera, and this would be helpful for me when I want to pull out a camera in the Urban Jungle. If you are someone who needs a slightly higher tripod, MeFOTO also sells the "GlobeTrotter," which is about 2.5 inches taller at the column. For people who are looking for something smaller, they also sell the diminutive "BackPacker."
Conclusion: I am so impressed by the MeFOTO tripod that I am very seriously considering the purchase of one. At the moment, I am debating between the RoadTrip and the GlobeTrotter. I want a travel tripod so that I don't look so ostentatious walking around the City and I think that this tripod will definitely fit the bill. There are times when you may want a bigger, heavier tripod, but I think that there are far more times when I want something relatively light that gets the job done. I think that is the biggest compliment you can possibly give in a review. It is a really nice product at a really nice price point. Well done, Benro.
Like the review and want to buy a tripod? Enter coupon code 10JAMES
to receive a 10% discount on your MeFoto Tripod at Hunts Photo and Video. That's a first for me - I have been many things in life, but never a coupon code! Having said that, I want to make sure that it is 100% clear that I have not received any compensation for this review. Also, I am supposed to send back the tripod. So try it out, I hope you like it. Also, please consider purchasing from Hunts. I like seeing small business thrive.
Please note that the link below brings you to the black model, but as long as you use the coupon code, all of them come off with 10% off. I tried.
Benro MEFOTO Travel Tripod / Monopod with Ball Head (Black Color)http://www.huntsphotoandvideo.com/detail_page.cfm?productid=A1350Q1K&mfg=MeFOTO&show=yes
Please note that the MeFoto GlobeTrotter is also effected by this discount.www.huntsphotoandvideo.com/detail_page.cfm?productid=C2350Q2T
To read our MeFoto GlobeTrotter (2350) Field Review, click here.