The Manfrotto BeFree carbon fiber tripod makes an excellent travel companion. I took this tripod with me recently on two trips; to Zakynthos in the Greek islands and to the Lofoten islands in north Norway. The compact design made travel with it easy as it can fit in a backpack or carry on bag no problem with it’s compacted length of 15.75 inches (40cm).
It also makes backpacking and long hikes a breeze weighing in at just 2.4lb (1.1kg), lightening the load for you. It handled the sandy, salty, humid, wet conditions of the islands like a champ.
The design of the BeFree carbon tripod is four segment legs with snap lock features, as well as the legs being able to rotate completely upside down making it so you can adjust the tripod to almost any terrain. One of my favorite things for landscape work is shooting right over the ground to get real close to a subject and tight to foreground elements, so with the BeFree you can flip the legs and turn the tripod upside down while lowering the center column over the ground as close as you want to get right in the action.
I took photos with the camera being just a couple inches off the ground, giving me the angle I needed.
The tripod has a ballhead with plate attachment so you can pull the camera on and off the tripod with ease while out shooting. The ballhead is my favorite because it allows full rotation and easy access to leveling in really rough, rocky terrain where it can be difficult to set up a tripod. The ballhead feels very durable and I never had any issues with it while shooting. The one dislike I had with the ballhead design is to attach the plate you have to hold down a lever and flip the switch while sliding in the plate. It made it a little clumsy when shooting out in the cold with numb fingers losing their dexterity!
The build of the tripod is well constructed, especially for the lower price point. I managed to drop it on rocks and bang it in to trees a few times and no damage was done other than some small scratches to give it some worn in charm. One thing that happened with the build is one of the rubber stoppers at the bottom of the legs fell out, so make sure your screws are tight below them which I didn’t check at first. When unboxing your BeFree, just be sure to use the included tools to insure all screws are tightened properly.
The max load is 8.8 lbs (4kg) for this model, so it works fantastic for crop sensor or mirrorless cameras, but for the heavier full frame cameras with a bigger lens, it may fall over the weight load for the BeFree. I used my full frame Canon 6D which is a lighter weight model of Canon’s full frame line and tried the BeFree’s weight capacity with a couple different lenses and had no problems, but did notice the legs start to be a little weak when fully extended and a heavier lens on.
I would I highly recommend this tripod to anyone that needs a lightweight and compact tripod for travel. It offers a great balance of portability and sturdiness, as well as the cost. If you’re in the market for a tripod to take out on long hikes and backpacking, or just for city and travel use, it’s your perfect companion. Below you can see a few more images I have taken while using the Manfrotto BeFree, as you can see, it worked great for me!
Material: Carbon Fiber
Maximum Height: 56.7″ (144 cm)
Minimum Height: 13.4″ (34 cm)
Folded Length: 15.75″ (40 cm)
Total weight: 2.4 lb (1.1 kg)
Load Capacity: 8.8 lb (4.0 kg)
Sean Ensch is an travel, landscape, and underwater photographer from California, currently spending a year living in Norway.