I fell in love with an angel.
The first time I laid eyes on that wonderfully sleek black body, I just couldn’t help but drool. Such a flexible thing. And despite the deceivingly tiny little package, it can extend to an impressively long and sturdy beast.
No, I’m not talking about meeting mister tall, dark and handsome. I’m talking about a tripod. More specifically, Benro’s Transfunctional Travel Angel Tripod Kit.
Benro creates tripods, monopods, heads and other camera accessories. Not many people know the brand. For most photographer hobbyists and amateurs, they’d light up at the mention of Manfrotto, Velbon or Slik. But not Benro. This Chinese company started manufacturing photography accessories in 1996. Yes, made in China. More specifically South Guangdong. Perhaps the country of origin is what made people shy away from using the brand. But these days, everything is made in China anyway. And through the years, Benro has earned a good reputation among professional photographers. This clearly shows through the Transfunctional Travel Angel Tripod Kit.
What I have in my hands is the model A1691TB0. You can get the Transfunctional Travel Angel Tripod Kit (or simply the Travel Angel) in either a carbon fiber or aluminum-magnesium alloy body. My model happens to be made of the latter.
The kit also comes with the ballhead, QR plate, rubber feet, spike feet and tools used to tighten the tripod’s screws as needed. It also comes with a carry case. The carry case is made out of strong material and has a hidden pocket where you store the tools and spike feet as well as whatever else you decide to bring along. One thing I love about the ballhead: it has a spirit level to help you avoid slanted shots.
The tripod weighs in at a light 1.69 kilograms (3.731 pounds) and folds to a wonderfully compact 435 millimeters (17.13 inches). It’s so light and small that I didn’t mind carrying it all afternoon and into the evening. Well, it has to be. It’s meant for travel after all! But despite being seemingly lightweight, this tripod can hold a maximum load of 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds). Note though that the other variants of the Travel Angel can support heavier weights. For my needs, 8 kilos is more than enough. You can leave the camera on the tripod, confident that the tripod won’t keel over. But if you’re still worried about it tipping, the tripod’s center column has a hook where you can hang your bag or some other weight for additional stability.
Long and flexible
Most people, like myself, are used to the clip locks along their tripods. The Travel Angel is different. It uses twist locks for its 5-section legs. It was a different experience but, within just a few uses, I was getting the hang of it. The fact is you only need a slight twist to loosen or lock the legs. The twist locks are rubberized and are weather- and dust-resistant. That means whatever weather or place you find yourself in, you’ll be able to set up that tripod fast and fumble-free.
When fully extended, this tripod reaches a maximum of 1.6 meters (63.9 inches). The legs can be independently locked into place at two angles. This enables you to set up the tripod on uneven ground or cramped quarters. The spike feet would be an additional help too! Makes me wish I had this around during my Mt. Pinatubo climb instead of my hefty Manfrotto.
Then there’s the monopod…
You’re not really buying just a tripod. You’re buying a tripod AND a monopod. That’s what I love about the Travel Angel. Normally I would have to decide to whether to bring a tripod or a monopod on a trip. That’s extra baggage right there. But the Travel Angel solves that problem by letting you bring both. Suddenly need a monopod? Simply unscrew one of the legs (no tools needed!), transfer the ballhead from the tripod to the monopod, and you’re done! The monopod has a maximum height of 1.34 meters (52.76 inches) when fully extended.
(Editors note: No wonder it’s called a “Transfunctional” tripod. As opposed to, uh, dysfunctional…)
Next to heavenly
I know you can’t have everything. But I do wish that the monopod had a feet accessory for added stability from camera shake. I could use a spike, but not all ground is soft enough to stab into. As for the center column hook, I wish it were a bit larger since it looks like I can’t hang my camera bag from it like I’m able to do with other tripods.
But these transgressions I can gloss over easily. The Benro Transfunctional Travel Angel Tripod Kit is simply a joy to use! A highly recommended accessory for both SLR and point-and-shoot users. If you’d like to see it for yourself, just visit any Digital Zoom store.
Aluminum Small = Php 6,950 Medium = Php 7,550 Large = Php 8,150
Carbon Fiber Small = Php 12,850 Medium = Php 13,950 Large = Php 15,450
- Ballhead has a spirit level to avoid crooked shots
- Light and folds compact, yet is strong, sturdy and extends tall enough for me
- I can finally bring both a tripod and a monopod
- I wish there was a feet accessory for the monopod
- Center column hook could be bigger
- Uh… (think think) doesn’t come in pink?