There are lot of tripod brands out there that is available for every photographer. Choose from a Carbon Fiber, Magnesium or Aluminium built. Some even offers a combination of two materials. You have assortments of five, four, three sections tripods and monopods. Prices can go as high as $1,500.00 or as low as $50.00. Deciding on which one to get depends on what you need it for. If you have deep pockets, splurge on those expensive one’s. But based on experience, there are a lot of well built and sturdy tripods in the market today that's at par with the most expensive ones.
I've been a Manfrotto user for 7 years. Which one? The Manfrotto 055cxpro3, classified as a professional carbon fiber tripod. I am a nerd when it comes to tripods. I strip it down to the smallest parts and clean it thoroughly after every trip. Lost count on how many times I ordered joints, clips, screws and bolts from Manfrotto Spares, Italy (Manfrotto Philippines failed me when it comes to spare parts and service) and had it shipped to the Philippines. Oh, if you check out my portfolio, you’ll see that most of my photographs were taken where there is a presence of water. That’s the reason for the speedy wear and tear. The cost of maintaining a tripod where one needs to order spare parts from another country is beyond imaginable. I was looking for a RELIABLEafter sales service tripod-brand-official-distributor here in my home country which was to no avail until last year.
Benro Philippines contacted me in 2016. They were convincing me to shift to their brand and they are very generous to send a “twist-lock” carbon fiber tripod (Benro SystemGo Travel 2 GC269T) for me to test out. I made a detailed review and comparison (on my previous blog) but returned the tripod to them. There is NOTHING wrong with the tripod. It is light-weight, compact, sturdy and best of all, reliable after sales service.
The main reason why I returned it is because of personal preference. I am having a hard time when it comes to “twist-lock” tripods. It takes so much time and effort adjusting the legs (imagine shooting in the sea with crashing waves and you need to quickly adjust your tripod). And when sand gets into the knobs, good luck. A “flip-lock” tripod will always be my choice.
If you are curious to know more about the Benro “twist-lock” carbon fiber tripod, check out my previous blog at https://goo.gl/DNTRMW
Early this year, I received a phone call from Benro Philippines and told me that they have a new addition in their line of tripods. The Benro GoClassic 2 (GC257F). A SystemGo “FLIP-LOCK” carbon fiber tripod. Wohooo! Finally!!! I received the tripod a week after and brought it to Iceland and Canadian Rockies for testing.
FROM THE BOX
The Benro "SystemGo" GoClassic 2 - GC257F comes with the following:
1 pc. Carrying case (bag)
2 pc. Allen wrench (different sizes)
1 pc. Plastic tightening tool
1 pc. Hook
1 Set metal spike feet (3 pc.)
At first glance, the Benro "SystemGo" GoClassic 2 - GC257F looks well built and ready to take any kind of beating. Since it's carbon fiber made, it is light-weight but still looks (and definitely feels) sturdy as a whole. The aluminium screws and heavy duty plastic flip-locks looked tough enough to last prolonged use. A bonus, is the nice black foam wrap on the upper part of one of the legs. This allows for a comfortable grip while carrying it around.
Model: Benro "SystemGo" GoClassic 2 - GC257F
Body Material: Carbon Fiber
Made in: China
Head: Not Included
Leg Sections: 3
Leg Lock System: Flip lock
Actual Max Height: 66.3” (center column extended)
Actual Max Height: 55.3” (center column NOT extended)
The Benro "SystemGo" GoClassic 2 - GC257F aced the battering conditions of Iceland. Went through hellish wind, ice, snow, sea and mud. It breezed through the lakes and wild rivers in the Canadian Rockies.
Dyrholaey cliff winds, Iceland
Dyrholaey cliff (lower part), Iceland
Raging waves of ice beach, Iceland. Benro "SystemGo" GoClassic 2 - GC257F was used to take this shot.
Benro "SystemGo" GoClassic 2 - GC257F is sturdy enough to be able to carry my heavy gear: A Canon 5D Mark IV attached to an L-plate + Canon 16-35 mm F/2.8L II USM lens with a filter and holder attached. No sign of strain in carrying the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens with a full-frame camera attached either. When the legs are fully extended, the height of the Benro GC257F is at par with my old Manfrotto.
Benro "SystemGo" GoClassic 2 - GC257F allows you to go from high to low (in a matter of seconds) with an easy pull of the 3 separate angle adjustment mechanisms atop each leg. After that, with the Quick Flip 90° Center Column feature, you can quickly change the position of the center column from vertical to horizontal without the use of any tools. This is very important for low angle shooters like myself.
This leaves me with the question: How low can you go?
I was able to catch some decent reflections (only possible by going low-angle) thanks to the Benro's Quick Flip 90° Center Column feature. Athabasca River (Canadian Rockies)
The Quick Flip 90° Center Column feature is by far my favourite. When flipped to 90°, the center column can be extended forward and in full (if need be). This allowed me to shoot over a bulky handrails - as shown in the next videos and photos.
Bruarfoss waterfalls, Iceland
Output from the Bruarfoss Waterfalls.
Athabasca Falls, Canadian Rockies
I was able to get this intimate landscape shot thanks to the Quick Flip 90° Center Column feature.
Not just handrails. Here's getting creative in Pyramid Lake, Jasper National Park, AB
I was able to include this tree trunk for a one-of-a-kind shot from Pyramid Lake, thanks to the Quick Flip 90° Center Column feature.
Another cool feature is that with the easy twist leg detachment system, you get to transform the Benro "SystemGo" GoClassic 2 - GC257F to a MONOPOD.
“Each SystemGo tripod can be easily converted into a monopod without the use of any tools. Simply combine the removable leg and the center column to create a full-size monopod.” - Benro website.
Packability and Mobility
No issues when travelling abroad on a 23 kg. weight limit for luggages. The Benro "SystemGo" GoClassic 2 - GC257F fits perfectly inside a 28" luggage. Benro (1.51kg) being lighter than my old Manfrotto (2kg), it is easier for me to carry it around, attached to my camera bag most of the trip.
Cleaning and Repairs
As I mentioned earlier, I am a nerd when it comes to tripods. I strip them down for thorough cleaning after every trip. This allows me to learn more about the tripod itself and how to do a quick fix just incase something breaks in the field.
With tools included, disassembling the Benro "SystemGo" GoClassic 2 - GC257F is easy. Unfortunately, I snapped one of the joint's while doing it. Immediately called up Benro Philippines and after a week, new sets were handed to me. They even offered to do the re-assembly.
Carbon fiber √
Solid built √
Light weight √
Accessories and tools √
Great features & functionality √
Reasonably priced √
Spare parts available √
After sales service √
With all the features, functionality and performance that I mentioned, it is without a doubt that the Benro "SystemGo" GoClassic 2 - GC257F is one of the go to tripod in the market for landscape photographers. You get the highest quality at a reasonable cost. I am really glad to have partnered with a reputable brand that not only produces high quality products but also gives huge importance to "after sales service". Therefore, goodbye Manfrotto.
To my photographer friends in the Philippines, if you are looking to invest on a tripod that will last you a lifetime, go for Benro "SystemGo" GoClassic 2 - GC257F. A carbon fiber "flip-lock" tripod.