Any tripod with the word 'flex' in its name might sound a bit off-putting, but the Benro A297EX FlexPod proved very solid and resistant to flexing in our tests. Bubble levels in both the tripod collar and the ball head make for quick and easy levelling of both the tripod and the camera.
The tripod's centre column can be removed and inverted for low-level shooting. But there's no need for this, because the pivoting facility enables you to quickly and easily swing the centre column through a complete 180 degree arc.
It's similarly simple to adjust the angle of the legs from the centre column to any of three different positions.
The Benro BH2-M ball head has no friction control or separate panning control, but is nevertheless solid and well built. Its scissor-action lock on the quick-release plate makes for fast fitting and removal, while offering a degree of security against releasing the plate accidentally.
With its single locking screw, the ball head is very quick to adjust. There's also a reassuring level of friction when the screw is released a little, despite there being no secondary friction control.
The quick-release plate also offers a secure, solid fit to both the tripod head and the camera.
At the price, the Benro A297EX FlexPod is right up with the leaders in the class, such as the Giottos MTL9361B, Manfrotto 055XPROB and Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT.
Impressive stability, good implementation of 180 degree pivoting centre column and bubble levels on both the tripod collar and ball head to aid levelling.
Collapsing the leg sections from their maximum extension can sometimes feel a little sticky.
A solid performer, the Benro A297EX FlexPod tripod combines excellent stability with great versatility. Advanced features such as its 180 degree pivoting centre column and three-position multi-angle legs are well implemented and easy to use.
Benro's BH2-M ball head is similarly well engineered, but lacks the finery of an adjustable friction damper or separate panning control, although the bubble level is a nice touch and is helpful for levelling the camera.