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Old November 12th, 2016, 02:04 AM   #1
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Benro S7 Head Anyone?

My seemingly never-ending search for a lightweight fluid head, a flat base one, has got as far as a Benro S7.

Anyone out there tried one and got an opinion? A reasonably smooth pan is my main aim. I have a Manfrotto 502 head which a load of junk. I should have returned straightaway instead of flogging a dead horse via perseverance. I have a Weifeng-717 which not bad for the price but is reaching the end of its natural.

Heavy weight heads so easy to find at a price. I have a DVS 6 and a Vision 6 but both a bit of a lump as far as portability goes.



Ron
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Old November 12th, 2016, 12:28 PM   #2
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Re: Benro S7 Head Anyone?

I like the Manfrotto stuff, I test drove the Benro heads at a recent event and thought they all looked very low-end. I'd avoid.
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Old November 13th, 2016, 01:27 AM   #3
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Re: Benro S7 Head Anyone?

Ta Mike, that's a shame. Local camera shop has a selection of Gitzo/Manfrotto heads.Time maybe for another look.


Ron

ps I contacted Benro UK re finding a localish outlet where I could go and have a look but no reply.
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Old November 14th, 2016, 10:51 AM   #4
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Re: Benro S7 Head Anyone?

Ron,

Beating the size/weight vs performance curve is tough. I don't believe you will find it on the low end like Benro. That is not to say they don't have a place, it means the compromise IS going to come in performance.

At one time I did a ton of freelancing as an operator. You generally use the broadcast camera and sticks they provide. What I used was gear that saw a lot of hard daily use.

Every Miller I ever used was broken in one way or another. Often critically wounded because the multi position tensioners fail. I would never buy a Miller.

Shattler and the other high end hardware lived up to its reputation and you get what you pay for.

Bogen / Manfrotto take a beating here on this forum from the high end crowd. That has not been my experience with Bogen. Their products are middle ground in my opinion. You get a break from high end price but they are not dirt cheap or poorly made. Much of their line is a reasonable compromise.

I have two Bogen kits I bought well over ten years ago. Thy both have 516 heads and the sticks are 3192 and 3182. These are heavy, I can't help you with ultralight. I buy heads rated for heavier cameras than I generally use. But my point is these two kits have hundreds of thousands of travel miles on them, have seen a ton of use, and still work as well as the day I got them. And they work very well. I can operate those heads as smoothly as any Miller or Shattler I have ever used. These days they often support my 7 foot jib with no problem. I am not a Bogen hater and I am certainly not a Miller fanboy.

Please let us know if you find a high quality and lightweight setup.

Edit: I should say I have considered the Benro myself for very light travel. But I don't expect longevity or good performance from one.

Kind Regards,

Steve
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Last edited by Steven Digges; November 14th, 2016 at 02:01 PM.
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Old November 15th, 2016, 01:42 AM   #5
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Re: Benro S7 Head Anyone?

Thanks Steve. I'm only a keen amateur filmer of wildlife, mainly birds, so I use long lenses. GH4s and DSLR lenses these days so not that heavy a rig. When mobility not an issue I can use my DVS 6B on Gitzo legs or my Vision 6 head/legs combo.

I'm past the old "three score and ten" so humping the bigger outfits around a pain, not there, in the back.

I'll be having a look, as said, at some locally available Gitzo/Manfrotto lighter heads. I will be using a Gitzo pod with a levelling centre column so a flat base head.Panning likely to be an issue based on previous experience.

I think I owned a 516 way back. 100mm bowl. Bought it with matching sticks from what is now Calumet in London. A 50% off deal. I don't think the salesman was anticipating someone walking in off the street and buying a higher end outfit and getting it half price. I could cart it around back then with my XLH1 and Canon DSLR glass.

It got nicked from inside my car when in the S of France. Insured though.

Ron

ps would that a manufacturer came out with a good quality separate panning base to go between pod and head. Can get for panoramic stuff.
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Old November 16th, 2016, 10:27 AM   #6
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Re: Benro S7 Head Anyone?

Hi Ronald,

I do not know of any separate panning devices. But that does not mean they don't exist.

Wildlife and birds...not my forte but I have shot a lot of fast moving things like race cars and pro athletes. The few times I tried birds I lost them on take off for a second. For fast moving objects without predictable travel paths I often use a mono pod, but you know your subjects. I'll bet you have tried that.

"three score and ten" Good for you! I'm glad your still at it. You have a few years on me. I hope I am still humping this stuff around when I get there!

Kind Regards,

Steve
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Old November 18th, 2016, 12:41 AM   #7
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Re: Benro S7 Head Anyone?

Ronald, what did you decide?

I'm in a similar boat 'only a keen amateur filmer of wildlife' and so on and I'm also past the old 'three score and ten' (plus another five!)

I had a Sachtler FS6 setup I purchased many years ago to support my XDCAM EX1. The Sachtler got nicked and furthermore my EX1 sits in a back cupboard unused. These days, just for fun, I'm shooting video with a Lumix GX85/lens combo (maybe the GH5 down the road) that weighs just under 1.5 kg. My Sachtler was overkill and I was getting killed lugging it around. Now I need to purchase a new tripod and one that is more appropriate.
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 04:01 AM   #8
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Re: Benro S7 Head Anyone?

Well I took the plunge and purchased one. Initial reaction was disappointment but third thoughts not so.

I used a GH4 plus Sigma Sports 150-600 plus Sigma 1.4X TC (connected via a Metabones Smart Adapter, why Sigma don't do long lenses in MFT is beyond me. As I've told their Reps, they'd sell more in MFT mount than they would in Sigma)


Anyway well within the weight limit of the S7 but magnification at full zoom, equal to about 36X asking a bit.
Pans were not too bad in the circumstances, tilts a bit iffy. Tilts okay via use of the lock lever which nor a design feature I guess. At shorter focal lengths much better, and with a Panasonic 100-400 instead of the big Sigma no problems at all.

I've known for a while that my old Gitzo 2940 LVL, "Basalt" is not too good on hard surfaces, like the floor of a public birdwatching hide. Doesn't seem to absorb vibrations, rather passes straight through to the camera. Purchased the Gitzo carbon fibre equivalent which an enormous improvement (at a price).

So I'll use the Gitzo/Benro combo when out and about ideally with the 100-400 Panasonic on a GH4 or with my FZ1000. Portability the key.

In a hide or a static situation GH4/Sigma on my old Vinten Vision 3 outfit. In my car my old old Sachtler DVS 6B on a short pod and Sigma outfit.

Ron
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Old November 25th, 2016, 12:59 PM   #9
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Re: Benro S7 Head Anyone?

Thanks Ron, most helpful.

Cheers.
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Old February 16th, 2017, 12:40 AM   #10
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Re: Benro S7 Head Anyone?

Any further thoughts on this, Ron?

My usage would be similar to yours - I really want something lighter than my FSB6 to use with lightweight gear, and long lensdes.

TIA
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Old February 16th, 2017, 12:56 AM   #11
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Re: Benro S7 Head Anyone?

Well the head is back with the distributors and I'm hoping they can fix the poor pan and tilt controls. Not good even with a lightweight camera eg a FZ2000.

Will advise further but my problems made me attach my oldish unloved Manfrotto 502AH to my new Gitzo GT2540LVL pod. The pod has a levelling centre column so I could detach the half ball from the 502 and use as a flat base (lighter of course) head.

It works! Not perfect, there is some wind back after every pan at least with my heavyish GH4, Fhugen cage, Sigma 150-600 outfit. Better still with my lightweight FZ2000.

The S7 has a few similarities to the 502, the tilt and pan controls similar design if smaller, and the fact that it takes a Manfrotto style "501" quick release plate.

The pan bar of the 502 is poor, not long enough and mine rotates slightly but annoyingly even with the locking screw fully tight.

Watch this space!

Ron

Last edited by Ronald Jackson; February 16th, 2017 at 12:56 AM. Reason: typo
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Old February 17th, 2017, 12:11 AM   #12
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Re: Benro S7 Head Anyone?

Many thanks. Ronald, I will take my finger off the trigger and put the safety catch back on!

I have wonderd about the Manfrotto heads too, but felt that the price was so low they could not be much better than my old, and unsatisfactory, 701HDV.

A flat base head will do for me too as I would use it with a Manfrotto MDeve tripod which has a small half-ball on a centre column.
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