Benro Versatile Transformer BRC2970F, £235
This tripod is almost every inch the same as the Benro BRA2970F model, except that its leg sections are made from 8-layer carbon fibre instead of aluminium. Meanwhile, it has the same magnesium castings and the clip locks, shoulder and impressive pivoting centre column system are identical.
The main attraction is that the carbon fibre tripod is about 25% lighter in weight than its all-metal sibling, at 1.6kg. However, the saving in weight comes at a heavy asking price, as it's more than twice as expensive as the aluminium version. The maximum height with the centre column fully extended is also a couple of inches shorter, at 170cm.
It's good that a padded carrying bag is included because, while comfort padding helps to protect the tripod from knocks, it's only fitted on one of the legs. Naturally, this is only on the upper section but, even then, it only covers half of the length.
The carbon Benro feels an exact match for the aluminium version when it comes to rigidity, although it has a slightly higher 12kg maximum load rating. One annoyance is that, whereas the leg sections extend and contract very smoothly on the aluminium tripod, they're quite stiff and jerky on the carbon model. Taking the considerable extra expense into account, the BRC2970F is relatively poor value.