For the photographer who’s overwhelmed by all the equipment they need to set up before snapping the perfect shot, Benro will soon be introducing what it claims to be the “world’s first auto-leveling travel tripod,” which uses self-adjusting legs to perfectly level itself at the push of a button.
Setting up a tripod is far from the most difficult task on a photographer’s to-do list, but it can take a few attempts of shortening and lengthening the legs to get the head perfectly level. It’s even more challenging on rough terrain, where each of the tripod’s feet can end up at different heights and re-adjustments frequently need to be made whenever the tripod is moved or repositioned. Let’s be clear: aspiring photographers aren’t abandoning their passion because tripods are too unwieldy, but it’s neat to see a tripod make these adjustments all on its own.
Although Benro doesn’t go into detail about how the self-extending legs on the Theta work, the mechanism apparently allows for manual adjustments too, with added failsafes. If a photographer forgets to fully lock one of the leg segments after making an adjustment, the powered mechanism can take over and lock them in place in the event the tripod starts to tip over, protecting an attached camera from a nasty fall.
It doesn’t sound like the Benro Theta is a one-trick pony, either. The legs are made from strong but lightweight carbon fiber with an aluminum ball head atop that can be panned and tilted to make additional adjustments to an attached camera. And it’s compatible with a collection of optional modules that attach to the Theta’s center column. These include a Battery Module that literally powers the auto-leveling feature, a GoLive module for live-streaming from a camera, a Camera Control module that serves as a wireless remote and adds wireless connectivity to a mobile app, and an Optical Matrix Sensor module that detects the lighting conditions and can make adjustments to a camera’s shooting settings for extended timelapse photography.
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The Benro Theta will be available in two versions: a travel-friendly 2.9-pound version for $349, and a larger 3.3-pound Theta Max model that costs $399 and boosts payload capacity from 24.3-pounds to 44.1-pounds for larger cameras. The optional modules range in price from $50 to $99, which means you’ll have to add $50 to the price tag for the Battery Module that enables the Theta’s most notable feature.
You can’t buy either model just yet, however, as Benro will be going the crowdfunding route with a Kickstarter expected to launch sometime this month. So you can expect those prices to be only available to those who eagerly back the campaign when it launches. If you’d rather hold off until the Kickstarter meets its funding goal or when product actually starts shipping, it looks like the MSRP for both tripod models will jump by $250 to $300.