July 28, 2012

Benro MPB10 Multi Purpose Nodal Rail Review

Benro MPB10 Multi Purpose Nodal Rail w/ box overview

As I have described in the Benro MPB150T Multi Purpose L Bracket Review, these brackets had been announced in Benro's catalogs about two years ago, but it was only in the past year that they appeared on the shop selves.

For a long time now, I wanted to get one for review, but the review was always postponed. Finally I decided to get one together with a Benro MPB150T Multi Purpose L Bracket for testing, from my local supplier.

The Rail
Once again MPB10 is the smaller of the two Multi Purpose rails in the Benro line.
As I already have a couple of sturdy Nodal/Macro rails, I made my choice based on the small size of this rail, as it suits nicely for the role of a light flash bracket support rail as well as the role of a nodal rail for the MPB150T L bracket when used as a multi row Panorama head.

Manufacturer Specification
Benro MPB Multi Purpose Bracket specification chart
Multi Purpose Brackets specification courtesy of Benro web site.

Its dimensions are 167 x 38 x 20 mm, which are total Rail length (with clamp screw knob), Rail width and total thickness (including screw knob) respectively.
The actual rail length is 150mm and its thickness 9,5mm (3/8"). Total thickness including clamp jaws 14mm. The number of 20mm coresponds to the screw knob diameter.
Total verified weight is 124gr without the base screw.
According to Benro, their brackets are CNC machined and treated to a corrosion-proof system to reduce wear and enhance appearance. And they are compatible to the Arca Swiss® quick release system and accessories.

Benro MPB10 box contents
MPB10 rail comes boxed in a recycled carton box which has a small sticker with product number, bar-code and a red QC (Quality Check)stamp. The bracket is wrapped in a nylon bag with air bubbles, and is accompanied by a small self-closing nylon bag containing one 4mm Allen hex key suitable for the 1/4"-20 base captive screw. No user manual or any other literature is included.
First impression is of well made rail of high quality machining, finishing and fitting.
Benro MPB10 top view
The rail has a 44mm long (active length) captive slot occupied by an 1/4"-20 captive screw. It follows the pattern of all Benro brackets with two holes in the front and a groove behind them, intended to hold certain kinds of flash brackets.The Arca compatible quick release clamp has one Φ mark on each jaw designating the center.
The screw knob is small 20mm in diameter and extends only 17mm behind the rail. This is a good attribute if the rail is going to be used as a nodal rail on a multi row Panorama head, as it will not protrude too much making difficult for a camera to reach a Zenith position. Further, it's quite soft in operation and takes only one and a half rotations to open/close the clamp jaw fully. Another nice attribute for a screw knob, making the clamp a real quick release.
Benro MPB10 bottom view
The rail bottom view reveals the very light structure of the rail. As on all Benro rails and brackets there are two M3 safety stop screws pre-installed one at the front and one under the QR clamp. There are two extra M3 screws not usually found under similar rails. The innovation? with this rail is that the steady clamp jaw is not so permanent. The front clamp jaw is a separate part held in place by these extra M3 screws. This is a clever idea in order to cut down on machining cost and manufacturing time. As long as the fitting is good and the stability of the clamp is maintained it's fine with me.
However, once again there is an issue with all M3 screws. They cannot be loosened under normal methods or a little more severe manipulation. That means, if you want to remove the safety stop screws its impossible with even high quality Allen hex keys without damaging either the key or the rail.
Benro MPB10 bottom clamp side closeup
A closer look at the back of the rail reveals four small holes surrounding the M3 safety stop screw and the moving jaw structure. The moving jaw tongues are aligned in open grooves with the springs exposed. This is the standard Benro clamp design which is not one of the best, as this open type is prone to dirt accumulation. However, the tongues and guide screw thread are lightly lubricated making the clamp soft and quiet in operation.
Benro MPB10 bottom front side slot closeup
Although there is a 1/4"-20 thread at the back end of the captive slot (near the clamp jaw), there is also a rubber tap at the front end of the slot which when opened reveals a larger opening. This is a Benro standard to all MPB rails and brackets in order to enable the insertion of a larger 3/8"-16 captive screw which is available as an option.
The 1/4"-20 chromed-steel captive screw which is included in the package has a 14mm round head and can be tightened either by the included Allen hex key or by a large flat screwdriver or even a small coin. Somehow the thread finishing is not of the same standards with the captive screws, provided with older Benro camera plates, I have used.
Benro MPB10 bottom side clamp & screw details closeup
Another close up of the rails rear end. In this angle of view the small screw knob, the moving jaw and its wide aligning tongues are more clear. As clear as the cut showing that the steady clamp jaw is a different small part held in place by the M3 screws through the bottom. It is also more obvious that the four small holes at equal distance around the safety screw have M3 threads intended for the MPB11 plate.

Benro MPB10 nodal rail & MPB11 adapter plate
MPB11 as depicted from the Benro site is a small 38 x 38 x 5 mm dovetail plate with four holes for the same number M3 flat head screws sold as an accessory for the MPB10 rail. If added at the bottom of the MPB10 can act as an adapter in order to change the dovetail orientation, or this is what I can think of, since there is no literature or documentation from Benro.

Using the rail...
As a Flash Bracket support rail.

Benro MPB10 as flash bracket holder on Canon 400D+BG-E3+EF-s 60 Macro+Boling FB+Canon 580EXII The small profile and light weight of the MPB10 are nice attributes for an Arca Swiss® compatible flash-bracket holding rail. It can be hand held or mounted on a tripod head at will.

For reference you can see a macro setup in the photo on the left. Benro MPB10 is mounted on a Canon EOS 400D with EF-S 60mm Macro lens, holding a Boling C-Shaped flash bracket equipped with a Hejnar PHOTO F60 1" Quick Release Clamp, which in turn support the Canon Speedlite 580EXII flash with a DIY diffuser

Further, the system is quite versatile allowing for flash bracket attachment at either side of the rail, thus exploiting all the features of the Boling C-shaped bracket which permits a 90 degree adjustment of the flash sideways.

Benro MPB10 as flash bracket holder w/ Boling C-Shape FB+Hejnar F60 clamp - left
The rail is clamped on the Arca compatible camera base plate. The flash bracket equipped with a QR clamp is attached on the rail's upper dovetail and can be adjusted back-forth.
Benro MPB10 as flash bracket holder w/ Boling C-Shape FB+Hejnar F60 clamp - right
The flash bracket S-shaped base permits also a shift away from the camera. But more on the matter in my (pending) Create a Versatile Macro Flash Bracket article.

As a Nodal slide rail on a Panorama clamp.

Benro MPB10 as nodal rail on Benro B-2 + PC-0 combo overviewAccording to the Benro site illustrations the "MPB10 operating conditions" is of a nodal slide rail.

It is well suited for this use for smaller camera/lens combinations. Either used in the simple landscape orientation or in combination with the Benro MPB150T Multi Purpose L Bracket, for use in portrait orientation.

A simple example setup is seen in the photo on the right. This setup features Benro MPB10 mounted on a Benro B-2 Ball Head equipped with the Benro PC-0 Panorama Clamp, supported by the Benro A-298 EX Versatile Tripod.

Benro MPB10 nodal rail on Benro B-2 + PC-0 combo camera attachment closeup
Supposing that the camera is already equipped with an Arca Swiss® compatible dovetail base plate, the camera is clamped on the MPB10 rail's quick release clamp.
Benro MPB10 nodal rail camera adjustment overview
By adjusting the rail on the Panorama Clamp according to the Lens's pupil entry point (nodal point) then the camera can be rotated around it for seamless panorama stitching. An elementary but simple and easy solution.

Excellent machining, finishing, fitting and build quality.
Quick jaw control with the knob, that permits fast mounting/dismounting of cameras.
Smooth operation in all aspects.
Good value for money ratio.

Very difficult to impossible to unscrew the M3 safety stop screws.
Care should be taken when screwing with the supplied 1/4"-20 mounting screw, as it may damage your camera tripod socket threads.
Just a small reservation for the missing bubble spirit level for those that need one.

MPB10 can be used either as a separate unit and/or in combination with the MPB150T L Bracket for a singlr and/or multi row Panorama head.
Recommended as a nodal rail or as a flash bracket holder. Due to its dimensions is most suitable for entry level DSLRs (without a Grip) or the increasingly popular M4/3ds mirrorless cameras.

Benro compact Multirow Panorama Head
You may find more information about the utilization of the Benro MPB10 nodal rail in the article: Assemble a Compact Benro Multi Row Panorama Head

I hope you found the article and ideas useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: © 2012 S.C.Vlachos

Price and Availability:
Benro MPB10 is available for US$ 70.00 50.00 Shipped from eBay

Referenced Articles:

Benro MPB150T Multi Purpose L Bracket Review

Benro PC-0 and PC-1 Panorama Clamps Review

Boling C-Shaped flash bracket Review

Benro B-2 Ball Head Review

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

Hejnar PHOTO F60 1" Quick Release Clamp Review

Relevant Articles:

Hejnar PHOTO E003 Nodal / Macro Rail

Create a Versatile O-Shape Macro Flash Bracket

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