December 17, 2010

Benro MA-96 EX Fliplock Aluminiuim Monopod Review

Benro MA-96 EX Monopod overview

Sometimes, in tight situations when a tripod is bulky to use, comes the solution of the monopod.

Having used or tested various monopods of different design and brands, I came up with some prerequisites.

a. Stability
b. Resistance to torsion and vibration.
c. Ease of setup.
d. Ability to hold heavier equipment and last but not least...
e. Balance by keeping the center of gravity low !

Searching for a monopod that would fulfill the above prerequisites and that would not cost a fortune, I came up choosing the Benro MA-96 EX.

The Monopod
I have chosen this monopod among others for its very specific attributes:
Its large tube diameter of 3.6cm (1.42") that gives a nice grip and low resonance.
The quick flip lock design that makes setup very fast and enables for a manual adjustment.
Its maximum height of 1.59 m (62,8")is very convenient to me personally as I avoid bending my back for viewing into the camera viewfinder.
The medium weight that balances very well with semi-pro and pro cameras.
And finally a very reasonable price.

Benro MA-96 EX Monopod box contents
Benro MA-96 EX comes boxed with a metal spanner that enables for camera/head plate removal or flip lock adjustment.
Benro MA-96 EX Monopod specification card
Product specification card.
Benro MA-96 EX Monopod closed
The 4 section monopod has a large top plate, a hand strap, a plastic ring that serves as a spanner for flip lock adjustment and also for an Allen hex key repository (which I would not recommend for this use, as it is very easy to loose it on the way) and 3 Large Flip Locks.
Benro MA-96 EX Monopod label detail
Closer view of model tag and part of the plastic ring that has a spanner for flip lock adjustment.
Benro MA-96 EX Monopod top plate components
Using the included metal spanner the top plate can be removed.
Here it is obvious that it has a dual thread (1/4"-20 / 3/8"-16) reversible stud and a protective rubber cover for the stud threads for transportation.
The large metal top plate has a diameter of 5,6cm (2.20") and 3 recessed Allen hex screws for securing a ball head.
Benro MA-96 EX Monopod folded upright
Folded is 51.4cm (20.24") high
Benro MA-96 EX Monopod extended upright
Fully extended is 159cm (62.8") high.
Tube diameters are 36mm, 32mm, 28mm and 24mm (1.42",1.26", 1.10" and 0.94")

The flip locks.

Benro MA-96 EX Monopod flip locks closeup
This 4 section model has 3 really large flip locks of fine plastic. Considering the large tube diameters the flip locks are accordingly large and secure the leg very well.
Benro MA-96 EX Monopod flip locks screws closeup
The flip locks have 2 bolts each, one securing the lock on the upper tube and one adjustable for securing the lower tube(s).
Benro MA-96 EX Monopod flip locks openned closeup
Opening the flip locks reveals the tensioning bar which has the bolt on the other side.
The monopod foot is large and holds well on wooden or marble floor surfaces.
Unfortunately it is not removable as with most Benro tripods so as to be replaced by a spike for slippery terrain like grass, mud or soft soil.

Tightening the flip locks.

Benro MA-96 EX Monopod ring spanner installed
As mentioned previously, there is a hard plastic ring attached on the larger tube, that serves as a spanner for the flip lock adjustment.
Benro MA-96 EX Monopod ring spanner closup
Closer view of the plastic ring, showing the spanner as well as the Allen key repository.
Benro MA-96 EX Monopod top flip lock open
By opening a flip lock...
Benro MA-96 EX Monopod top flip lock w/ spanner
The spanner can be fit on the regulating bolt, and adjust the locking strength as well as the minimum friction for extending or retracting the tube legs.

Attaching an Arca compatible clamp.

Benro MA-96 EX Monopod top w/ QR clamp aside
Except for the classic way of screwing/unscrewing the monopod under a camera, it is more convenient to simply attach an Arca-Swiss® compatible clamp with 1/4" or 3/8" tapped hole.
Benro MA-96 EX Monopod top w/ QR clamp attached
When using long telephoto lenses with an Arca-Swiss® compatible lens plate on the lens foot, this is the most stable and balanced way to go.
The carrying weight is kept low and the camera - lens - monopod combination have the lowest center of gravity possible.
Tilting for portrait, can be easily done by the lens foot ring.

Attaching a Ball Head.

Benro MA-96 EX Monopod top w/ Benro B-2 ballhead attached upright
If we need more freedom of movement with a camera + medium lens combination, a ball head like the Benro B-2 here, can be attached on top of the monopod.
All you have to do is reverse the dual threaded stud to the 3/8" thread and screw the ball head on top.
Benro MA-96 EX Monopod top w/ Benro B-2 ballhead attached flat
The ball head adds a little weight on top of the monopod but still balances well.

I hope you found this review useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos: © 2010 S.C.Vlachos

Availability Update:
Benro MA-96EX Monopod is no longer available, having been replaced by the newer Benro A48F which almost identical except fore the large foot and is available either from Amazon or from eBay.

Referenced Articles:

Benro B-2 Double Action Ball Head Review

Fotopro QAL-500 5cm Quick Release Clamp Review

Relevant Articles:

Benro A-298 EX (A2980F) Versatile Transformer Tripod Review

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