Benro FlexPod C297EX - £235/$500
Proving you often have to pay a hefty premium for carbon fibre, the Benro FlexPod C297EX costs more than twice the price of Benro's aluminium alternative, yet has an almost identical design.
The shoulder is the same as on the Benro A297EX, which is no bad thing because it includes the quick and easy leg angle adjustment mechanisms and a pivoting centre column facility. The clip locks for the three leg sections are also the same, so the extra price is justified purely by the carbon build of the legs themselves.
Compared with the aluminium Benro, this carbon tripod is about 25 per cent lighter, at 1.6kg instead of 2kg. And the maximum load capacity increases from 10kg to a class-leading 12kg.
However, the maximum operating height with the centre column fully extended reduces from the aluminium model's 175cm to 170cm, so it's about two inches shorter.
The Benro C297EX's spiral-patterned carbon fibre leg sections extend and contract smoothly and are held in place firmly by the clip locks. There's little protection when carrying the tripod around, however, because only one of the upper sections is padded, and only for less than half its length. At least the padded carrying bag should absorb knocks.
Stability is on a par with the aluminium Benro so, despite its extra load capacity and its 400g weight saving, it's hard to justify the extra £130 asking price.