Manfrotto Befree GT Carbon: The Little Tripod that Could

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Recently, Manfrotto expanded its Befree travel tripod collection, adding some more serious models for photographers who need a bit more support. I was lucky enough to be given the flagship piece, the Befree GT Carbon, to use on various adventures. It is certainly the company’s biggest little tripod, since it has an extremely compact form but with some pro-quality specs. This means it can support up to 22 lb, plenty for your DSLRs and telephoto lenses.

The Befree GT Carbon is perfect for long exposures when hiking through the woods.

My standard kit is a Sony a7R III and anything from a 55mm f/1.8 to a 70-200mm f/2.8. The GT Carbon seems to fill the bill nicely for this purpose because it doesn’t feel like overkill when I’m using compact primes, and it’s solid enough when I want to throw on the big glass. In general, the tripod and head were solid and I wouldn’t expect any issues with holding gear in the standard pro DSLR or mirrorless kit. Combine this with a light 3.4-lb carbon fiber build and you have a real winner for traveling.

When it comes to tripod legs, there are generally two options: lever locks or twist locks. Manfrotto correctly chose twist locks on this model because they are much faster to use, making them better suited for traveling around and quickly setting up and breaking down. The twist locks here work great, and are compact enough that you can grab all of them at once to get from minimum to maximum height in no time at all. Speaking of, the four sections can be set from 16.9 to 63.8" in height, and the center column can be reversed for ground-level shooting. The tripod also features a side-pull selector for choosing the leg angle, each of which can be set independently. There are three options, which is plenty to my eye, and they lock very securely in place.

A Manfrotto-specific feature the GT is equipped with is an Easy Link attachment point. This allows you to attach arms and accessories just below the head. This is ideal for your flashes, LED lights, microphones, or even a snack pouch if you so choose. And, there are rubberized feet that work well in a variety of environments and even when wet, something I tried during my time with it.

This guy doesn’t even know what a tripod is and had no problem using the Befree GT Carbon.

Mounted on the top of the tripod is the 496 ball head, a fast head with operation that should be quite familiar to many photographers. This head is surprisingly small, considering its 22-lb payload. It also features tension adjustments for the ball to make more precise or faster movements, depending on the situation. Another benefit is that it has panoramic movement for side-to-side adjustments or, you know, panorama capture.

I love this tripod and I’m going to miss it when I have to give it back. Regardless, there is one thing that irked me about the system, since it was basically the only problem I had with it: the 496 ball head isn’t 100% Arca-type compatible. I’ve grown used to having a baseplate on my a7R III and can throw it on practically every support system I own. However, since the plate for the Manfrotto tripod is Arca-type, I figured I would be set with my plate. I was mistaken. The plate is Manfrotto RC2 and Arca-type compatible, but the head only supports the very specific Arca-type sizing of the included plate and, I’m sure, a few select others. It will not work any old baseplate. Besides that, the tripod is one of the best travel options on the market for pros. It is solid, lightweight, and packs down into its included bag quite tidily.

Are you interested in picking up a Befree tripod for traveling? What specs and features are important for your decision-making process? Sound off in the Comments section, below!

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great review! really like the looks and specs of this tripod but your note on the Arca plate compatibility may be the dealbreaker for me. Looking at peak design's website, it seems the standard plate won't work and this tripod will require the more bulky dual plate. Was debating between this one and the slightly more expensive Induro GTT204M2 and it looks like based on this single factor, I am leaning towards the induro. I know both are likely great tripods and it's a shame because the manfrotto is 1lb lighter and cheaper to boot but i would prefer to use the slimmer arca baseplate from PD over their dual plate

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