In the world of tripods there isn’t a lot of innovation anymore. That’s not because companies don’t want to innovate but if you are honest, what more can you innovate on a modern tripod? Take for instance the Benro Mammoth TMTH44C, a tripod that is as sturdy, lightweight, compact and versatile as one could ask for. If you asked me a few weeks ago what could be improved on this tripod I wouldn’t be able to give you an answer. But that was before I learned about the Benro Theta that is…
Benro launched the Theta on kickstarter (you can find and back the project here) and I can honestly say they have revolutionized tripods in general. In this article I’ll try to tell you more about it but also check out the kickstarter page for even more information and images.
Benro has already reached more than 1,7 million dollars on Kickstarter, but there are still good reasons to join the campaign. You will get a reduced price ($250 off!) and ability to buy several kits, 6 years of warranty (regular warranty is 3 years) and you’ll be one of the first ones to receive the tripod.
Benro Theta and Theta MAX
The Theta comes in 2 sizes, Theta and Theta MAX. Both models have the following features:
- Carbon construction for light weight and stability.
- Single lock feature for quick and easy deployment.
- Comes with a smart ball head with auto-lock system (compatible with arca swiss plates and L-brackets).
- Redundant anti slip system in legs to prevent leg slippage.
- Can handle sand, water and light wind.
- 3 slots for smart modules.
- Ability to invert the center column for low angle shooting and macro photography.
- Lower half of center column can be removed for working lower to the ground.
- Counterweight hook.
The difference between the 2 models are the size, weight and load capacity. The Theta is perfect for people looking for a smaller travel tripod that can handle mirrorless or DSLR cameras with lenses up to 70-200mm.
The Theta MAX is a bit bigger and has a higher load capacity that will allow mounting of mirrorless and DSLR cameras with big and heavy telephoto lenses up to 200-600mm. Because the Theta MAX is bigger it is also better suited for longer photographers with a maximum working height of 170 cm. This means even a photographer of 190-200 cm long can use the tripod standing up without hunching over.
- Weight 1,25 kg.
- Maximum height 155 cm.
- Packed length 44 cm.
- Load capacity 11 kg.
- Weight 1,65 kg.
- Maximum height 170 cm.
- Packed length 53 cm.
- Load capacity 20 kg.
Benro Theta Self levelling and smart ball head
The function that stands out the most on the Theta tripods is off course the self levelling functionality. As you can see in the image below the tripod is able to level the camera with just a touch of a button. This is a game changer. Leveling on a manual tripod can be done with the ball head, but that won’t work for panoramic shots or video unless you have a ball head with built in panorama function. And levelling it with the legs will take a lot more time than the ‘one touch’ function of the Theta. Especially when shooting architecture this will save you a lot of time and effort (and it looks cool!).
Auto leveling works with the leveling system built in to the second leg section of the tripod. It is powered by a battery you can attach to one of the three smart ports on the tripod spider. One battery charge will give you about 8000 times of self levelling, so you don’t have to worry about constantly charging the battery. And it is good to know that you can always adjust the legs of the Theta manually as wel.
The ball head is an integral part of the smart leveling system. It features an option to lock it parallel to the tripod, so the system can perfectly level the camera every time. You can also unlock the ball head and use it just like any other high quality ball head. And if you want to use a different type of head, like for instance a geared head or gimbal head it’s good to know the Theta is compatible with other heads as well.
If you use your own head you can still use the auto levelling, but you will need both the camera control module and optical matrix sensor module for it to work.
Other smart functions of the Benro Theta
The self levelling is an impressive innovation by itself, but Benro didn’t stop there. There are several extra smart modules available for the Theta that can furthermore improve the versatility of the smart tripod.
Available modules are:
- Battery module
Needed for the operation of the self levelling and all other available modules. It is possible to attach multiple batteries for prolonged battery life. The battery module has a USB port that can be used to power your camera or other accessories.
- Camera Control Module
This smart module is connected to your camera by USB cable and allows you to control your camera via your smartphone (wireless) using WIFI. You can use the Benro Theta app on your phone to set shutter speed, aperture, ISO, use live view and trigger the shutter for photo and video. The system has a maximum range of about 45 meters. The module is attached to the tripod and powered by the battery module.
- Optical Matrix Sensor Module
This module is the perfect assistant for time lapse shooting, especially in changing light. The module has multiple sensors to detect ambient light and allows the camera control module to dynamically adjust exposure. This allows for perfect exposure in your time lapse video even when shooting from daylight to night (or vice versa).
This module only works in combination with the Camera Control Module. But you can also combine it with the Benro Polaris, Benro’s intelligent motorized head that utilizes the same Benro app.
- GoLive module
The GoLive module allows you to live stream using your camera and your phones 5G connection. It’s recommended to use two battery modules when live streaming since live streaming uses a lot of power.
The Benro Theta is a revolutionary tripod. It combines the functionality and build quality of the regular high-end Benro tripods with a lot of smart features. By using replaceable modules, you can buy the tripod and just use the smart self levelling for now and you can add new functionality later by adding modules. And because of this modular design it is possible for Benro to keep adding new functionality in the future.
Head over to the the Benro site for more information on the Theta. And to support the project so you are one of the first ones to receive this impressive and innovative tripod.
I’m sure you will get a lot jealous looks from photographers that still only have a normal tripod.