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Can you really get a decent set of sticks for under a grand?

Right now Benro is offering an attractive instant rebate on both the S8 tripod kit ($474 instead of the usual price of $549) and the S7 kit ($399 down from $449).

Wasn’t long ago that to get any kind of smooth motion out of a tripod you were looking at a price tag with at least four zeros on the end. So when you see a set of sticks claiming to have fluid mechanics for just a few hundred dollars, it always sounds too good to be true. The good news? In the case of the Benro S8, it’s good and it’s true.

Part of the win here is that camera rigs have become lighter and thus it takes less tripod to give you similar results. But the other reason for the windfall in price is that innovative companies like Benro have taken the lessons learned in the still photography world and applied them to the digital video market.

The Benro S8 Dual Stage Video Tripod Kit will hold a rig weighing up to 17.6 pounds, which is enough for most sturdy DSLR setups (or even a Blackmagic Cinema Camera or Ursa Mini). It includes a four step counterbalance to accommodate plenty of variation in your rig setup.

It also includes a lot of features you don’t necessarily expect in a budget tripod. For rapid leveling, it comes with a ball stud and an illuminated bubble level. The ball is also removable if you need a flat base for use with a slider or a prosumer mount. With the dual stage legs you get adjustable height from 29 inches off the ground all the way up to 63 inches. Another feature you might not expect at this price point: a mid-level spreader (removable).

But before we go any further: Does it work well? Happily, yes. At maximum drag (the drag settings are stepless, which is a plus if you like to fine-tune, a minus if you’re a stickler for repeatability of setup) you’ll get an extremely smooth pan with a graceful acceleration and deceleration into and out of the move.

For ease-of use, a telescoping arm with rubberized grip mounts to either side of the head. Even when fully extended, the arm has a nice rigidity to it, with very little play.

If you’re looking to carry a large production camera like a Blackmagic Ursa around, you’ll need to find something with a little more heft (take a look at Benro’s K series), but for modern, light-weight digital rigs, the Benro S8 gives you the pro features you need for quick setup and smooth motion without the five-figure price tag.

Right now Benro is offering an attractive instant rebate on both the S8 tripod kit ($474 instead of the usual price of $549) and the S7 kit ($399 down from $449).

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