MeFoto roadtrip review


hello everyone!  this tripod was kindly sent to me back in December, but I didn’t really see any point in making a first impressions type review, because the true test of a tripod is how it holds up over time.  I have used it for almost every photo shoot since I got it, and my sister has used it for over 100 days of her 365 project.  it has seen quite a bit of use.  lets jump right in. (note, all measurements and weights are calculated by myself, not from the manufacturer.  also, although this tripod was given to me, I am going to state my thoughts just the same as if I got it myself, which I was about to do before I got in contact with Benro.)

the folded tripod (shown here with banana for scale), comes in at a puny 40cm (15.5″ish) with qr (quick release) plate.  it manages to get so small by inverting the legs upwards.  a really nice design I think, as it means the center column is already extended and ready for use. it fits inside carry on luggage with ease, in fact I kept it in my personal item backpack when I have flown trans-continental with it.

ITT_6019

it comes with a lovely orange trimmed bag, a hex key for adjusting the leg tension, and spiked feet to replace the rubber ones if needed.  the extra feet and hex key come in a nice little package that fits into an inside pouch of the bag. the rubber feet that it has work alright, but because the bottom leg section can turn, there really can’t be that much rubber on the ground plane, only a small section.  this is an advantage of tripods with D shaped leg sections. more rubber on the ground = more grip = more stability.  as you can see in the below picture, there isn’t a hex key.  this is because security in Bergamo airport (Italy) confiscated it. no idea what they were thinking, and I doubt this is ordinary procedure anywhere else in the world.

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the head that comes with the tripod is really quite nice.  it has separate pan and ball locks, a ball friction knob, a bubble level and very smooth movements all round.  it takes the Arca Swiss style qr plate, which isn’t my favorite but is pretty much industry standard and does the job.  it locks onto the ball head  with a knob, not a lever.  this works flawlessly, and is very easy to tighten it to a point where there is no chance of the camera slipping, without busting your fingers.

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the only real disappointments with the tripod were with the qr plate.  it doesn’t have  the right rubber on top, so no matter how hard you crank it onto your camera, after a shoot or two (especially if you are shooting vertical)  it will be loose.  not a huge issue, right? just tighten it up. well, no.  for some reason it requires a key or coin to turn it.  this is the reason I don’t like Arca Swiss style plates, they all seem to not have hand operable knobs for tightening them on your camera.  the turning problem can be solved by buying another brand’s plate, and if you are only using one tripod system, the fact that it needs a coin to operate won’t be an issue.  but for me, it was a pretty big annoyance (as I do switch systems) so I went ahead and switched the plate holder from an old Manfrotto ball head and screwed it onto the lovely  MeFoto ball head.  perfect.

not enough rubber

not enough rubber

here is the manfrotto plate holder on the MeFoto head.

here is the manfrotto plate holder on the MeFoto head.

woohoo! adjustable by hand!

woohoo! adjustable by hand!

the leg angle locks work perfectly, they can be either at a normal tripod angle (30 degrees ish) and the low down 80-ish degree angle.  they are not sprung, so they don’t ‘click’ into place, but they feel very solid and work very well. the leg length locks also work well. it takes about a half of a turn to lock/unlock the legs, and they lock very solidly.  I have used the tripod in heavy rain and snow, with no ill effects, and occasionally in sea water, but in those cases I always have been careful to not let the sea into the leg locks, other then on one occasion but I disassembled it  and cleaned it afterwards (according to this fantastic guide on the MeFoto blog).  the leg locks feel as smooth and precise as new (which is to say, smoooth).

leg angle locks.

leg angle locks.

leg locks

leg locks

one really cool feature of the tripod is that it can convert to a monopod! just unscrew one of the legs, take out the center column and put them together! it works very well, though I don’t really have much need for a monopod.

the carbon fibre version I have weighs in at 1.389kg (3.0625 pounds) with head.   the tripod itself weighs 1.066kg (2.35 pounds) and the head weighs 323g (0.7125 pounds).  the cheaper aluminum model apparently weighs 1.633kg (3.6 pounds).  I am not sure if the difference of 0.5 pounds really is worth the difference in price of $140, but that is up to you.  there certainly are more budget options in the world of carbon travel pods, but the aluminum one is a very good deal. also, for some reason the carbon isn’t available in all those awesome colors, which is a shame.

the tripod has a maximum hight of 153.7cm (60.5 inches), and a minimum of 38.7cm (15.25 inches) the monopod’s max hight is 161.3cm (63.5 inches) and its minimum is 71cm (28 inches).  basically, the tripod is tall enough for any travel pod use, but maybe not short enough for a landscape enthusiast. a shorter center column would be a fantastic add on.  the monopod is tall enough for really anything, and I don’t know anyone who uses a monopod at anything but full extension.

over all, it is the nicest tripod I have owned (I have had an entry level manfrotto and a old gitzo) or used. for what I do, with the qr plate holder swap, it is pretty near perfect and I can’t see needing to upgrade unless my camera system gets a lot bigger. any light tripod will blow over easier, and not be as stable as a heavier one, but that is a compromise I am okay with making.

17 thoughts on “MeFoto roadtrip review

  1. Thank you for making this review. It was very helpful. I have read about the plates becoming loose in other reviews too, which is a shame for an otherwise nice tripod.

  2. Hello: Very well-done article. Just as KT, I would like to know what Manfrotto QR plate fit the MeFOTO tripod.
    Thank you so much.
    Jon

      • For those who got this tripod and still are having difficulty transforming it to RC2 like I want to do – the above plate he got from the ballhead is Manfrotto replacement part R496,13.
        You can find it at only a handful of websites, including this one:
        http://www.uscamera.com/r496,13.htm

  3. Just wanted to point out that there is a shorter center column available (3.4″). Also, the center column can be reversed to hang down putting your camera as low as you care to go.

  4. Great review, I do have the MeFoto Roadtrip and after reading I also changed the plate by the Manfrotto RC2 Quick Release Plate and with that and can keep using the FastenR Tripod (FR-T1) together with my BlackRapid R-Strap and make everything easy from carring the camera and going to tripod shooting.
    Thx a lot for the advise.
    Other option would have been the M-Plate Pro Tripod Plate form Customslr (saved 69.95$).

  5. I am thinking about this tripod and use Manfrotto QR plates too. How did you attach the Manfrotto QR plate to the other half of the MeFoto head? did you have to use any screws or take anything apart?

  6. UPDATE: I recently purchased a Manfroto 323 RC2 Rapid Connect adapter with a 200PL-14 quick release base AND a Mefoto road trip. Not sure what site I saw it on but I read somewhere that one was compatible with the other. Well, they are not. Two problems. 1. The Mefoto screw is tapered and wont sit flush on the ManFroto RC2 base. The receiving end of the screw needs to be tapered. 2. The top of the MeFoto ball head has two small “knobs” that wont allow the bottom of the RC2 base to sit flush with the top of the MeFoto ball head.

    The fix: First, I took a hacksaw and got rid of the two little “knobs” on the top of the MeFoto ball head. Next I drilled out the top of the RC2 base so that the tapered screw that came with the MeFoto head would sit flush. Now, everything works perfectly and I dont have to worry about returning anything.

thoughts?

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