Benro FlexPod A-297EX + BH2-M head - £170/$150
Benro probably isn't the first name that springs to mind when you think tripods, but they're well engineered and immaculately finished. The combination on test isn't available as a kit but can be purchased separately as a FlexPod A-297EX aluminium tripod and BH2-M ball and socket head.
With a maximum load rating of 10kg and 8kg respectively, they're a good match and fit perfectly. Three grub screws that adjust with an allen key via the bottom of the tripod platform ensure a tight fit.
Any tripod with the word 'flex' in its name might sound a bit off-putting, but the Benro proved very solid and resistant to flexing in our tests. The three-section legs are secured by high-quality clip-locks and there are bubble-levels in tripod and head to aid levelling in setup.
It's easy to remove and invert the centre column for low-level shooting but there's no need to do this, as the pivot facility enables the centre column to swing through a complete 180-degree arc.
The mechanism for splaying the legs to any of three angles from the centre column is also quick and easy to use. There's no friction control or separate panning lock on the head but it's nevertheless solid and well built.