Camera – and/or video – tripods may not be devices that normally set our hearts racing and blood pumping, but this Rhino travel tripod option from Benro in its gunmetal, silver and black livery resembles something the Terminator might take on his holidays.
With an assigned kit number of a catchy ‘FRHN05CVX20’, this one feels like it won’t quit until its mission is fulfilled. Constructed from carbon fibre to keep weight minimal, yet avoid sacrificing strength or stability, the Rhino is designed to provide us with straight and level horizons, plus wobble and shake-free photography. The manageable weight should also ensure it won’t give us an aching back if we need to kart it around all day. So, with all that in mind, can the Benro Rhino Carbon Fibre Travel Tripod deliver?
- Best travel tripods: lightweight tripods ideal for travel
- Best DSLR camera: ultimate Digital SLRs from beginner to pro
- Best mirrorless camera: very best compact system cameras
Design and Handling
Sleek and contemporary in its design, the Benro Rhino Travel Tripod features five twist-lock leg sections; individually turn each rubber section collar anti-clockwise to unlock, then clockwise to lock at the desired position. While the tripod legs can be purchased as a standalone product, we went for the option that includes the essential ‘VX’ class ball-head upon which our camera is mounted, thereby ensuring we have a solution that is ready to go straight out of the box. This particular ball head also allows for 360° panning, with a camera attached and detached via a standard quick release plate.
The tripod itself weighs 1.24Kg, which may sound heavy-ish on paper yet in practice feels sturdy in the hand yet manageably so. It can also withstand a maximum weight of 10Kg, should we want to lug a professional DSLR or medium format camera and a huge telephoto lens on our travels. Most of us won’t, and so it’s hard to imagine this device falling short of requirements. When transporting, the legs can be folded back on themselves so they encircle the centre column, thereby ensuring the whole kit commendably takes up the absolute minimum of space it needs to, given the design adhered to.
Carbon fibre build aside, the Benro Rhino Travel Tripod has a secret weapon up its sleeve, which further sets it apart from cheaper alternatives. When the space for shooting is really tight, or we just really, really want to travel light, a leg can be removed and attached to the tripod’s centre column to convert it into a single tubed monopod.
That aside, in terms of maximum height for the tripod itself we’re looking at 139.5cm, while minimum height, which is also important, is 35cm, so just a tad taller than the average school ruler. The maximum height if occasionally converted to a monopod is 141cm.
A carry bag with a shoulder strap is usefully provided out of the box, while there’s a spring-loaded hook at the base of the centre column that can be extended and an extra weight hung on it for even greater stability and balance, should it be needed.
The Benro Rhino Travel Tripod, in its FRHN05CVX20 iteration, is well made, sturdy and satisfyingly tactile in use. With the three legs folded around the central column as we heft it out of the box, which sees the tripod in its most portable and travel-friendly state, it’s a case of folding these down before we can twist loose the various leg sections and set it up –unless of course, we’re envisaging using it straightaway at its minimum height setting.
Requiring a degree of familiarisation if we want to take advantage of all its features from the get-go – fortunately, a brief instruction pamphlet is included – there‘s lots to savour here. It’s worth noting that when we’ve mounted a camera on the provided ball head the spirit level is hidden, so it’s crucial to get everything steady, level and locked into position before slipping our camera into place.
While the ball head is capable of operating through 360°, there’s no panhandle attached or provided here for smooth operation, which of course would have marginally added to bulk and weight, so it’s a case instead of gently rotating the camera itself.
While it’s not the very cheapest travel tripod option out there, we feel that if you’re doing a lot of travelling, or just like getting into the great outdoors with your camera on a regular basis, spending a bit extra on the Benro Rhino Travel Tripod is worth it. In return, we’re getting a winning combination of strength, agility and portability. Capable of holding anything from a compact mirrorless camera up to a DSLR-sized camera with some fairly chunky lenses, this option is a versatile jack-of-all-trades that should prove a steadying influence on our photography for years to come.