Hey all, Ben here from Benjamin Eriksson Photography and this is my review for the RoadTrip Tripod Aluminium, sent to me by MeFOTO Australia. My normal day-to-day tripod is the Globetrotter in Carbon Fiber but like my last review on the Globetrotter in aluminium I put the Globetrotter Carbon Fiber aside, and have been using the RoadTrip now for the last 5-6 weeks.
I shoot a variety of photographs for clients using my tripod and heavily rely on a tripod in my spare time out shooting landscapes/cityscapes both day and night. For me it’s important a tripod is easy to use, not too heavy, durable, stable and is able to easily carry any of my camera gear. Benro Precision Industrial manufactures MeFOTO tripods, they are made in China and the RoadTrip comes in 11 colours, I was sent the orange and it really PoPs!
WHERE I'VE BEEN TESTING THE ROADTRIP ALUMINIUM TRIPOD:
I have used the MeFOTO RoadTrip aluminium on some product shoots, using my Canon 5D MK IV and Canon 70-200 f/2.8 plus also had it out with me while out having some fun with friends in a variety of situations including the back beaches of the Mornington Peninsula and the beautiful Yarra Valley in Victoria. Again using my Canon Full Frame 5D MK IV but with the Samyang 20mm f1.8 lens lent to me by Samyang Optics Australia. I selected a few of my favorite shots taken with the RoadTrip tripod, as I feel its important to let people see a finished product (in this case a few photos) which the RoadTrip took a major part in getting.
MeFOTO RoadTrip helped me capture the Aurora Australis, sunset and stars at an old tunnel in the Yarra Valley all requiring long exposures and a sturdy tripod. Canon 5D MK IV with Samyang 20mm f/1.8 lens.
WHY I USE A TRIPOD:
I use a tripod as it supports my camera, allowing me to shoot different situations, such as:
· High speed photography
· Long exposures
· Low light situations
· Time lapses
· And other situations
Like many people I am time poor, so getting things right in camera is important and a good tripod helps me achieve that. Tripods have become even more important with the introduction and use of natural density filters and larger heavier telephoto lenses.
Straight out of the box, there's a:
· Handy carry case with a shoulder strap and a zip pocket inside that contains an allen key and a set of spiked feet.
· Inside sits the RoadTrip Aluminium tripod (I have the Orange & Black, it really PoPs).
· The tripod has the Q1 double-action ballhead and quick release Arca-Swiss Style plate.
· The tripod converts into a monopod.
• Max load: 17.6lb or 8kg
• Max height: (with column extended) 1570mm
• Minimum height with legs fully extended: (with column retracted)
• Minimum height legs not extended: (with column retracted) 395mm
• Converted to Monopod: (fully extended) 1625mm
• Folded length: 395mm
• Weight: 3.6lb or 1.63kg
• Leg sections: 5
• Leg lock: Twist lock
• 2 Leg locking positions
• Quick release plate: PMU50
• Tilt Range -45°/+90°
• Bubble Level
• Inter-changeable spiked feet or rubber feet (rubber feet fitted as standard)
MeFOTO supply two types of feet for the RoadTrip – rubber ones that come on the tripod out of the box and a set of metal spiked feet (Note: Inside the carry bag there is a little zip pocket where these are, when I received my first MeFOTO I thought they’d forgotten to include them LOL). This is great as you can use the most suitable foot option for the surface you are on. The RoadTrip has five leg sections and two leg angle sliding lock positions, this allows for height adjustment which helps when on unlevelled surfaces such as rocks, sand or getting low to the ground for say macro shots.
The leg lock grips require a half turn clockwise, which allow free movement to adjust your tripod to the required height, easy set up. Follow by an anticlockwise half turn to lock the tripod legs away. Ensuring the legs are locked in is simple with the leg angle lock on the centre spider/tripod body. MeFOTO use a reverse folding leg system that makes this tripod very compact 395mm in fact; after extending the centre column, the legs then reverse to fold up around the column then ready to pack away. The legs are pretty smooth and easy to operate.
A big bonus with this tripod over many of its competitors is that the RoadTrip tripod also converts into a monopod. One leg is designed to be removed, and then attaches to the detachable centre column becoming a monopod. The handgrip from the tripod becomes a handy useful monopod handgrip.
Setting up monopod:
At the bottom of the tripod where the hook is, it unscrews, allowing for the centre column to be pulled out (you need to half turn of the center column locking collar to remove the column). Next unscrew the leg with the handgrip. Screw the centre column and leg together and you have the monopod. Pretty straight forward and simple!
A centre column is extremely important on a tripod, in my testing so far the RoadTrip in aluminum has performed well, when out shooting the Aurora Australis there was constant breezes along the coast of say 5-10 knots. On my shoots I generally don’t use the centre column fully extended, but did have it maybe a third of the way up and it was sturdy. All the Classic range of MeFOTO tripods have a groove running up the column, which I believe adds strength and rigidity.
There is also a spring-loaded hook at the bottom of the center column for adding extra weight in windy conditions to stabilise, like a camera bag.
CENTRE SPIDER/TRIPOD BODY:
Made of magnesium alloy, it looks and feels good in the hand. The leg locks work effortlessly, and once disengaged (if in use), it allows for the reverse folding aluminium legs to be placed into position; folding away to a compact 395mm for easy storage in the carry bag supplied, a roller bag or on the side of a backpack.
The tripod body and centre column work well together, be it using the RoadTrip as a tripod or for a quick disassemble and reassemble into a monopod. These two components are integral in firming and creating great stability, particularly when extending the centre column up higher. An Allen key is supplied for basic cleaning/maintenance.
The MeFOTO Q1 double-action ball head has three operating knobs:
1) Head locking knob
2) Drag control knob
3) Pan locking knob
The grip on each knob feels great and has small ridges which mean your fingers don't slip while using them. Drag control can be manually adjusted and locked, along with independent panning. The ballhead can be moved freely, yet can be smoothly locked quickly with the Head locking knob, important creating panoramic photos.
The tripod mounting platform uses an Arca Swiss quick release plate, industry standard and the quick release locking knob work smoothly together. The plate has two screws that sit in grooves either side of the mounting platform, as it adds a little extra security when releasing the quick release-locking knob.
To use it, it's simple:
· Twist the knob to half release and allow the plate and camera to be moved sideways and to the centre of the mounting platform; then
· Tilt and twist to fully release and remove the plate and camera.
The head has a bubble level and 360 panning indicator numbers. Separate head and pan lock are user-friendly additions on this tripod.
The MeFOTO RoadTrip in aluminium performed well under the conditions I used it in. Now in all honesty if I were heading off hiking or travelling and wanted a slightly more compact, less bulky tripod than say the MeFOTO Globetrotter in aluminium, then the RoadTrip in aluminium would be a good option. Overall it’s a smaller tripod in folded length and circumference meaning it will fit into your luggage or pack easier than many other tripods.
Like anything that is more lightweight there are trade offs, and these come down to what you will use the tripod for. RoadTrip carries up to 8kg of camera and lens and being realistic that means it would carry with ease my Canon 5D MK IV with my 150mm-600mm telephoto zoom lens but personally I wouldn’t use it with the telephoto unless on the monopod or tripod in very calm conditions. I would happily use it with any of my other range of lenses, 14, 20, 24-70, 70-200, 24-105, 15-30 or 50mm. Shooting with a Mirrorless camera or smaller to medium sized DSLR camera then take note, this should be a serious contender on your list if weighing it up against other tripods.
Price point around $359 online and in store from reputable Australian retailers, offering a 3 Year Warranty. When you think about it, the RoadTrip is terrific value for money for a tripod that can be quickly transformed into a monopod.
I’m not a fan of where MeFOTO place the bubble level on their tripods but it really doesn’t bother me either, I think moving it off the top plate would just add an extra plus to an already great product. With the leg locks just don’t over-tighten them, about half a turn has them locked into place ready to go and I always remember the saying ‘righty tighty, lefty loosey’.
Favorite things about the RoadTrip in aluminium:
· Price I think is very reasonable at around $359 for a tripod that can carry up to 17.6lb or 8kgs of camera, lens and has the flexibility of a monopod option.
· Weighs 3.6lb / 1.63kg that’s pretty lightweight.
(NOTE: there is a Carbon Fiber version, which sheds even more weight 3.1lb / 1.42kg but I haven’t used it. I imagine for a serious long distance hike or for someone travelling lots where airlines charge like wounded bulls on excess baggage then spending the extra on the Carbon Fiber could be a big plus).
· Ease of operation - half a turn to unlock and lock legs for quick set up or pack up and each operation is a smooth motion.
· Center column has a tongue and groove adding rigidity.
· Quick to set up: 30-40 seconds from unzipping the bag, unfolding the legs, extending and tightening the legs, and attaching to my camera via the quick release plate.
· Colours and lots of them.
I read debates on tripods all the time; everyone has had their own good and bad experiences with different brands. The MeFOTO RoadTrip wouldn’t necessarily be the tripod of choice for full time pro photographers or enthusiasts but it is a solid performer and also doesn’t cost a $1000 - $800 - $600 or even $400! What it does offer is a flexible sturdy performer that can be used with a range of varying sized cameras that doesn’t break the bank. It is totally worth considering when searching for a new tripod and in the RoadTrip tripods case also offers the convertible monopod all in one neat bag.
Where can you buy the MeFOTO RoadTrip in Aluminium or any of our other tripods:
Pop me an email and I can point you in the right direction or get in contact with one of the stores below.
Digidirect in NSW, VIC, QLD and WA www.digidirect.com.au in store and online
Vanbar in Melbourne www.vanbarphoto.com.au in store
MY TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR TRIPOD IN GREAT CONDITION:
Always clean and dry your tripod after it has been exposed to wet, dusty, sandy or salty conditions. I use warm soapy water and then rinse it off with fresh water. Unlike some tripod brands which are fiddly when trying to remove the leg locks, the MeFOTO RoadTrip legs can simply be unscrewed to clean, allowing us end users to keep the 'twist lock' clean from dust, dirt or sand should any mange to sneak in.
MeFOTO Australia Ambassador