In Review: Benro Aero 4 Video Tripod
There are some products where you wonder, “what took so long?” The Benro Aero 4 Video tripod is one of those products. Video specific tripods have been historically huge, heavy and expensive beasts. But, the landscape of video production is changing. People are using DSLRS and mirrorless cameras for serious production work. While the cameras have shrank in size, video tripods have stayed about the same size, until now.
The Benro Aero 4 (and more diminutive Aero 2) combines a super compact folded leg design with some video features, specifically a leveling bowl and fluid head. It is small enough to fly with easily or in our case to stick in pannier and bike to a shoot! Why it took the industry this long to combine a compact tripod and leveling bowl is beyond me, but I’m glad it is here. I can finally ditch my giant piece of PVC to carry around my larger video tripod (which is small by industry standards BTW).
The leveling bowl offers 15 degrees of buttery smooth adjustment (I’ve tried the Manfrotto equivalent and it is jerky and not as quick to use). This makes for a quick setup on uneven terrain. No more adjusting individual leg heights. Just ballpark it, then level it off. While it includes the Benro S4 video head (with a Manfrotto compatible QR plate, btw), you are not necessarily married to it. You can unscrew it and use your preferred head, or even screw on a slider or a jib. I did some quick tests with an Aviator Jib flying the GH4 and the tripod provided a steady enough base for acceptable footage.
The tripod has a three stage leg design with flip locks. Flip locks are essential over twist locks for video since they are much faster to deploy. The locks themselves are plastic and are pinned/riveted to the legs. I’m hoping that the locks will retain their tension over time because there is no way to adjust their tightness. Another neat feature is that the tripod can be converted to a video monopod. This is actually a pretty trick conversion especially with the leveling bowl. You can shoot with the leveling bowl left loose and as you dance around with the monopod, it is easy to get a level shot.
For all the great things about the tripod, there are a few downsides. Probably the most noticeable is the weight. While lighter than most video tripods, for its petite size it is fairly heavy at 5lbs 14oz (the Benro S4 I’ve been using weighs 6lbs 4ozs). A carbon version that knocks off a few pounds would be very welcome. There is also the issue of the flip locks. Time will tell if they will hold their tension, but adjustable flip locks are always a welcome feature. The extended height might not be tall enough for some. I find it plenty adequate for my use and it’s definitely tall enough to shoot a seated interview.
If you happen to be crazy and bike to photo/video shoots then this is the tripod you want. Even if you don’t bike everywhere, it is the most portable video tripod with a leveling bowl on the market at the moment. Hands down.
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Should you Buy It: Heck Yeah!
Compact travel size
Fairly inexpensive for a video tripod
Manfrotto compatible S4 Head
Useful monopod mode
Heavy for its size
Plastic and non-adjustable flip locks
S4 head is meh