by Jan KysterMy story...
A little over a year ago I came across a Nikon D70s with the 18-70mm kit lens. Less than $300 for a mint camera with 2000 shots in the bag... couldn’t resist and thought it would be a great training kit before buying my "dream" camera. After all I hadn't touched photography since around 1978...
For night photography I needed a tripod and got a Vanguard Alta+ 263 with a PH-32 pan head. Fine kit for the D70s.
In February this year I was finally able to purchase both the Nikon D300s and the carefully selected Nikkor 16-85mm lens.
Also found a Manfrotto ball head - again for practice - before handing out the $500 I (back then!) thought one would have to pay for a quality ball head.
I then learned you will need a nodal kit for making "perfect" panoramas and besides that, I also found the Vanguard tripod was a bit too small for the new camera.
So I found a Gitzo tripod and a Markins ball head with a RRS pano-kit...at $1900... I was in shock!
Then one day I passed a small, cosy blog on the Internet showing how to make a Single Row Panorama setup and learned about Benro and DC Stuff! And Hejnar Photo!
All had good reviews and especially the panorama clamp looked interesting. I ordered the Benro PC-1 Panorama Clamp and a Benro B-2 Ball Head, from DC Stuff, which arrived a week later. As did the Hejnar E033 Nodal slide / clamp.
All really good stuff! Unfortunately/luckily I couldn’t remove the clamp from the B2 head and, as I also found it to be a bit small under the PC-1, ordered a Benro B3 head from DC Stuff.
It arrived with the clamp unscrewed (thank you, Mr. Chan!) and immediately I found the B3 head to be the perfect match for the PC-1 clamp.
And now – a month later – money for the tripod was in and it has just arrived, the Benro C3770T.
Compared to my original equipment list, I’ve “saved” almost a whopping $1000 and until the gear breaks down, I’ll consider it a wise, solid and very good choice. Time will tell...
There, that’s the horror story of how I reentered the world of photography!
I always search for reviews before a purchase. It's always best to hear good and bad from fellow users!
God, I searched and searched again... nothing! As far as I can tell after countless hours of searching the web, I haven't found one single review of this tripod anywhere?!
After Sotiris' -of SCV Photography Ideas - incitement, I decided to write a review about Benro C3770T, so fellow photographers will be happy to finally find a review of it!
Manufacturer specifications from C3770T page in Benro Precision Machinery site:
Max. Leg Diameter: 32.3 mm
Min. Leg Diameter: 25.2 mm
Max. Height: 1543 mm
Min. Height: 150 mm
Folded Length: 680 mm w/spiked feet
Weight: ??,? kg
Max. Load: Not measured. And will not be... ever.
Package and Carrying case
Here’s what the package contained:
|Noticed a bit worried, that the cardboard box had collapsed. When pressing down, the legs could be felt through the cardboard...|
|Inside the box, this nice bag with a handle came out. Bag outer dimensions are 840 x 130 x 130 mm.|
|Emptying the bag: The tripod itself in a plastic bag, a small plastic bag with accessories and the detachable strap.|
|The bag is made of thick nylon, well padded with some semi-soft foam, ca. 1cm thick. Stitching is done very well and appears to be strong. Nice job ! Beautiful inner lining too ! There is also a zipped pocket inside for the tripod accessories.|
|Content of accessory bag: A paper folder with a warranty card and manual inside. 3 steel spikes for feet and a 6 mm hexagonal key for leg adjustment.|
The Shoulder / Carrying strap
|Everything is metal and thick nylon. Good stitchings too !|
Max. length is 1 meter from hook to hook, 40 mm wide. Pad is no more than 5 mm thick and measures 65 x 200 mm.
|The strap, can either be clipped on the bag's metal D rings or use the smaller strap extension to carry the tripod without a bag. We'll see how, later in "Packing / Carrying the tripod"|
Unpacking the Tripod
Free of it’s dust bag... the Benro C3770T tripod:
|Under some 7 stickers, that is. First impression of look and feel was good. And was relieved to see everything in perfect condition.|
|One leg comes with a foam grip.|
DC Stuff, advised against my request for extra grips - and they are indeed very firmly attached. Can’t turn the logo to the inside...
Legs Hub / Mounting base.
|The mounting base plate removed with protection cap unscrewed. Outer diameter is Ø 81 mm, total height 22 mm and top plate is 4 mm thick. Anodized aluminium/magnesium. Center padding of hard rubber.|
|Inside view of the handle which locks the mounting plate. This plate runs inside a groove in the mounting base.|
Plus a spirit bubble level on top side of the base, a very handy tool for initial setup of the tripod in rough terrain.
Leg angle locks
|There are 3 steps controlling the angle adjustment of the legs.|
|Pull out the lock for rotating legs. The lock is not spring loaded. So it will stay in whatever position.|
|Push in to lock leg.|
To minimize the risk, make sure the lock is pressed firmly down, when locking the leg in position.
On the possible to-do list is filing the steps to increase the contact area and to move it down towards the steps bases.
Having in mind the above, I’ve analysed how big the contact area is for each leg and all steps on the Benro C3770T... here is how and the results...
|First applied some white paint to the leg lock surface, then locking the leg at each step to see how much paint was transferred to each step – the leg lock was fully pressed down for all legs.|
|In the above pic, Leg 1 on the left, Leg 2 (with bubble level) top right, Leg 3 bottom right.|
It’s very clear just how small the contact areas actually are. I would say two lowest steps are “semi-okay” all around, but when you spread the legs out to maximum, care must be taken.
I’m afraid, that if extra force is applied (like leaning on camera or leg perhaps), you may actually see a broken step...
|This is, what I would have liked to see in the above test, preferable all the smudges at the bottom of the steps - and the longer a smudge, the better.|
Could totally have been avoided by putting a bit of thought into it in the design phase... but there’s no way I’m gonna test to see, if it actually means anything. The only way to find out is for Benro to do a stress test. Break it beyond limits and see the effect.
Or hand over a test-tripod to “us”! :-)
Decision on whether to file the steps or not, remains to be taken... but as I’m now aware of the potential "problem", I’ll of course take care when rotating the legs and be extremely careful, when they are fully opened.
Leg / Base mount
Removing screws and locking washers, allows removing the legs:
|Removed one of the greased brass washers from the base to see the...|
|...base mount thread.|
Nice detail to see a steel thread insert in the magnesium base.
The washer has been removed in this picture. The red-brown substance you see is grease.
And a high quality one as far as I can get from feel, nice, fat and sticky.
|Inside the leg fork set screw for the leg lock.|
The top legs are glued into sockets and a close inspection found a flawless, even surface. Good job!
Leg sections tubing & Twist leg locks
|Legs sections were measured to Ø32.3 mm, Ø28.6 mm and Ø25.2 mm. All legs were measured at several places and tolerances were found to be extremely small, less than 0.05 mm !!!|
|Pulling out the leg completely frees the centering anti-rotation disks, and some dry lubricating graphite dust.|
The disks look to be made of Teflon. Held in place by a small rectangular piece of Teflon.
|The brake is held in place in a deep groove inside the grip. The brake will have to be bent a lot to get it out, so I won’t do that until really needed...|
Leg Rubber Feet & Spikes
|Medium-hard rubber with threaded steel bolt. Feels good !|
|The rubber feet are easy to unscrew and replace with spikes for outdoor use. Spikes measure 28 x 10 mm without thread, made of steel and chromed. Looks good !|
However, by removing the rubber feet, you expose a thin piece of plastic at the end of the legs... can’t see that piece survive for very long in the rough.
To protect this fragile Ø 30 x 1.5 mm plastic disc, I’ve used a steel washer Ø 30/10 x 3 mm between spike and leg.
|All legs fit with washers and spikes, armored ready for rough terrain.|
Attaching a ball head
|Mounting a Benro B3 ball head to the mounting plate, a perfect combo.|
|Closer look at the groove and locking plate. This groove allows the mounting plate to be rotated without fearing of it to "fall out"...|
|The screw that secures the mounting plate on the base has a spring loaded handle. Pulling out the handle, it can be re-positioned in 12 different positions.|
|The finished assembly, a visually well-balanced combination.|
however, are revealed in the images bellow:
|Another issue is the tiny bit of flaked off paint on the corner of the lowest step. Repaired from Benro with a drop of ink?|
Working with the tripod
|Self-portrait, of a panorama setup. Nikon D300s / RRS L bracket / Phottix Remote trigger / Hejnar E33 Nodal slide / Benro PC-1 Panorama clamp / Benro B-3 ball head / Benro C3770T tripod...|
|All leg sections fully extended.|
Total height from the floor to the top of the mounting plate is 154,70cm.
|With only only one leg section extended the total height is 106,40cm|
|Legs spread at the widest angle. A very low position for macro or nature shooting.|
Using the Tripod
|Benro C3770T in "mission possible" !|
Packing and Carrying the Tripod
|Panorama head parked in travel-position.|
|Lots of space inside the bag. Even without parking the pano-head, it easily fits inside the bag.|
|The tripod can also be carried using only the shoulder/carrying strap. The strap is clipped on the swivel ring on the mounting base. Then a loop is made with the smaller strap extension around the legs. Less weight for hiking on foot.|
The bag was - not with my good will - exposed to more than one hour of heavy rain. Found no water or moisture inside the bag or on the gear and the bag dried very quickly.
Very nice to work with.
Feels very "tough" and sturdy.
Well dampened, vibrations quickly stop after knocking on it. (Will do some measurements later).
Rock solid with all gear mounted, will be able to carry long lenses and heavy bodies with no troubles.
Relatively cheap, compared to same capacity tripods from other brands but still $500 !
Small issues with mounting base details, see above.
I wish Benro would skip the powder coating.
Would prefer more precisely machined base/lock detail.
Benro should look again at the design of the leg locks.
I have no hesitation in recommending this Benro trio of B3 ball-head, PC-1 panorama clamp and C3770T tripod to a friend.
Despite spending this much time on some details and small issues it does not detract from the overall sense of having bought a tripod of great value. My conclusion has not changed from highly recommended. I like it a lot.
A beautiful and very solid combination and a true pleasure to work with. As is DC Stuff - these guys must hold the world record in replying to questions!
*******This review was written and kindly contributed to the site by a reader and friend from Denmark, Mr. Jan Kyster, for which I express my sincere thanks.
Jan, apart from being an enthusiast photographer and devoted Nikon lover, :-) has a long professional experience in metal alloy formation and finishing processes, a fact that makes his opinion valuable especially for the design and structure of a tripod.
I hope you found the article and ideas useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos: © 2012 Jan Kyster
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