Benro Tortoise 24C tripod and GX30 head review

Every photographer needs a reliable tripod in their arsenal. Be it for portraits, landscapes or studio work — not to mention, a tripod for astrophotography is essential. Your tripod needs to be sturdy, lightweight and easy to use, and although there are many different options on the market, we think Benro have some exceptional tripods that stand above the rest.

Specifications

Weight: 3.3 lbs / 1.51kg
Maximum payload: 30.9 lbs / 14kg
Maximum Height: 51-inches / 129.5cm
Folded length: 21.3-inches / 54cm
Leg sections: 4
Head: Ball-head
Accessory mounts: 3
Feet: Rubber / spiky

The Tortoise Series proves to be continuously popular among photographers who want a lightweight tripod that can hold its own and has an impressive payload for its size. In this review, we are testing the Tortoise 24C tripod with the GX30 head. 

For travel tripods to truly shine, pair them with the best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography for those stunning astro shots you’ve always dreamed of.

Benro Tortoise Tripod review: Design

  • Ball head control in a weird place
  • Not the tallest tripod out there
  • Lightweight and compact

The first thing we noticed about the Benro Tortoise was how lightweight it is. We were testing it at the same time as Benro’s Rhino travel tripod, and we were initially a little confused as to why the Tortoise isn’t their flagship travel tripod, as it’s lighter and folds down more compactly than the Rhino (in terms of diameter, anyway). It has a carbon fiber construction and weighs 3.3 lbs / 1.51kg. It packs down easily and is incredibly slim when folded due to the lack of a center column.

However, because there’s no center column, it isn’t the tallest tripod out there, with a maximum height of 51-inches / 129.5cm. It’s more than suitable for most shooting situations, but if you need a tall tripod, then this might (pardon the pun) fall short. That said, it packs down much slimmer than other tripods do, so you’ll need to weigh up what is most important to you.

One thing we noticed about the GX30 head was that the ball head control seemed to protrude more than necessary. Rather than just having the lock screw directly into the ball head (like on the Rhino), it’s set out slightly and makes the whole thing look a bit bulky. We’re not sure why they’ve designed it this way, but we think it would be much more streamlined if they got rid of that.

Benro Tortoise Tripod: Performance

  • Easy to set up and take down in the dark
  • Just about fits into TSA-approved luggage
  • Sturdy and decent load capacity

We did encounter one issue when using the panning capabilities. If the panning dial was set too high (so too much friction), sometimes the camera would rotate on the D ring screw instead of moving the entire tripod head round (either at the mounting plate or the ball). We found this same issue when we were testing the Benro Rhino as we couldn’t seem to screw the camera onto the mounting plate tight enough — but that’s either an issue with using D rings in general or the user simply not being able to screw it on tight enough for whatever reason. 

We found it quick and painless to set up in the dark, and the soft rubber twist locks are kind to the hands on chilly evenings — and they’re big enough to grip easily with gloves. Although it doesn’t have the shortest folded length, it still just about fits into TSA-approved carry-on luggage, although you may have to use some mad tetris skills to make it fit — likely diagonally.

We thought it was sturdy and it has a good maximum payload of 30.9 lbs / 14kg. You can use the three accessory mounts to attach lights, microphones and other accessories to the tripod. Even in a windy coastal location, we were pleasantly surprised with how sturdy the tripod was before we’d even put the camera on it. The wind was around 10 meters per second (too windy to fly a drone), but the tripod didn’t budge, which we were impressed with. It even has a counterweight hook to help sturdy the tripod even more, if it were to need it.

Benro Tortoise Tripod: Functionality

  • Lack of a center column brings pros and cons
  • Interchangeable feet — rubber or spiky
  • Head features two separate safety elements

One aspect of Benro’s tripods that sets them apart from the competition is the dual safety elements in the head. Not only are there two metal pins underneath the mounting plate to prevent any slipping, but the quick-release knob needs to be pulled out slightly to get the mounting plate off fully. We thought this was a really clever feature, and it shows they’ve thoroughly thought about the functionality of the tripod head.

The tripod also comes with an extra set of interchangeable feet. It has rubber feet as standard, but you can swap them out for spiky feet for those tricky terrains where you need more stability.

Part of what makes this tripod so light and compact is the lack of a center column, which brings pros and cons. The advantage of this is that it packs down a lot narrower than many other models, and obviously, it takes a bit of the weight off, too. The downside, however, is the lack of extra height. We noted that it isn’t the tallest of tripods, and being able to have the extra height a center column brings would make all the difference to many photographers.  

Should I buy the Benro Tortoise?

If you’re looking for a versatile tripod that can handle any terrain and hold lots of kit up to 30.9 lbs / 14kg, then we can’t recommend this tripod enough, particularly if the weight of the tripod itself is a concern. As long as you don’t mind the lack of height, the tripod folds down into a very slim, neat little package and wouldn’t cause backache if you had to carry it around for longer periods, like trekking to dark-sky sites, for example. 

That said, Benro isn’t known for being a particularly affordable brand, so if you’re on a budget, then you may want to consider other options. We think the products pay for themselves in the long run and will last you for years, so they’re definitely worth the money, but if you don’t have the money in the first place then they might be out of reach.

If the Benro Tortoise tripod isn’t for you

If you like the sound of the Tortoise but need a bit more in the way of features and versatility, you might get on better with the Rhino series. It’s slightly heavier (but not noticeably so), and has added height thanks to a center column. It also converts into a monopod, opening up more shooting possibilities. It’s a bit cheaper than the Tortoise, too.

If the Benro tripods seem like overkill and you’re more of a beginner, we liked the Manfrotto Element MII for its ease of use and overall practicality. It’s made from aluminum, but it’s the same weight as the Tortoise and has a reverse folding design so it’s a bit shorter when folded. 

If you need to be able to shoot in awkward positions, the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB could be a viable option, as the center column can fold down horizontally, enabling you to shoot at unusual angles. 

Source: Space.com

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