Benro KS-2 Tear-Down and Review

Started Jan 17, 2007 | Discussions
twebster New Member • Posts: 15
Benro KS-2 Tear-Down and Review

There's so much talk about Benro products in the various photography forums, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I was going to order a tripod to evaluate but that added up to too much expense. Instead, I ordered one of their ball heads. I ordered a Benro KS-2 ball head that is supposed to support 30 pounds...

Bwaa..haa...ha...ha...ha!

Sorry for the laughter. It is, without a doubt, one of the worst examples of poor engineering and shoddy workmanship I've ever held in my hand! The Benro ball heads are superficially similar to Kirk, Arca-Swiss, and Gitzo ball heads. Very superficially!

Here's a link to my review of the KS-2 that I posted on my web site...

http://www.tomwebsterphoto.com/Essays/Benro/benroks2.htm

I know some people claim to have had good experience with these ball heads but I can't imagine, after I tore my new ball head apart, the ball heads will last very long at all. This also makes me wonder what corners were cut in producing their tripods which are much more complex to engineer and manufacture. Perhaps in the future I may purchase a small Benro tripod and tear it apart like I did this ball head.
--
Tom Webster

nickleback Forum Pro • Posts: 11,111
Re: Benro KS-2 Tear-Down and Review

twebster wrote:

Here's a link to my review of the KS-2 that I posted on my web site...

http://www.tomwebsterphoto.com/Essays/Benro/benroks2.htm

Good work!

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Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,391
Very nice, and a couple of points...

twebster wrote:

Sorry for the laughter. It is, without a doubt, one of the worst
examples of poor engineering and shoddy workmanship I've ever held
in my hand! The Benro ball heads are superficially similar to Kirk,
Arca-Swiss, and Gitzo ball heads. Very superficially!

Here's a link to my review of the KS-2 that I posted on my web site...

http://www.tomwebsterphoto.com/Essays/Benro/benroks2.htm

Tom, neat review. Here's something you might add...

"If Benro had taken the time to round the end of the panning lock screw, the panning base would not rotate when the lock is tightened. Not only that but, with the squared-off end of the screw, the area the panning lock screw tightens against is badly gouged and badly burred after just a few attempts to tighten panning base. The better brands of ball heads would have used brass tightening/locking screws and at least a steel collar for the screw to tighten against."

Actually, the better brands have the steal screw tighten down against a curved steal "brake shoe", which then presses against the collar (which typically is aluminum). But, since the shoe doesn't rotate, it doesn't gouge the aluminum.

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Ciao! Joe

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AcuraCL Senior Member • Posts: 1,503
Interesting review

I did spring for the tripod (C227) which I have found to be a good value and good performer at this point. I am somewhat confused as to how you consider a tripod to be more complex than a ballhead, I'd be interested to hear your rationale on that.

The ballhead I got, the KJ-1, has a nice exterior finish as you describe, but I found my friction thumbscrew to be limited in its operation. I had some lingering question in my mind from the start as to whether I was receiving a new unit, and your description of the wearaway effect of tightening makes me wonder even more if that is the case.

Otherwise, the tensioning does work almost as expected and advertised. While the damping effect does not increase as the position approaches vertical (typical of elliptical ballheads), nevertheless the tensioning is quite variable and it's not hard to find a sweet spot where tipping does not occur, but the ball isn't locked down. However, I'm nowhere near the rated weight of the KJ-1 (my setup maxes out at about 4 lbs, the KJ-1 is rated for 26 lbs ... I deliberately chose that much "overkill" for a safety factor).

I find that your review somewhat reflects others that I have read, though your inspection of the ballheads was much more thorough. The tripods are perceived as a solid value, the ballheads as not able to withstand heavy use. I believe at the rate I am able to use mine, I should get a few years of use out of the KJ-1, but by no means do I shoot with great frequency.

How do you feel about "other" Chinese products, by the way?

Do you have any experience with the Markins M10?

TuckerUK Senior Member • Posts: 1,812
Re: Benro KS-2 Tear-Down and Review

Thanks for the great review Tom.

So which $120 ball head do I get that peforms better?

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Geoff
http://www.pbase.com/tuckeruk

WSSA member#68

AcuraCL Senior Member • Posts: 1,503
Re: Benro KS-2 Tear-Down and Review

That makes a good point Tucker.

Is it realistic to expect the same quality and fit/finish as products costing at least 3x the price? Markins, Kirk, RRS, ArcaSwiss, all easily cost $350 plus in the USA.

OP twebster New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Benro KS-2 Tear-Down and Review

Frankly, I have not found a ball head for $120.00 that lives up to the manufacturer's claims. The Giottos MH-1000 that I used for one of the illustrations is better built than the Benro but it, too, will not function properly. For myself, I just bit the bullet and saved my money and purchased the Really Right Stuff BH-40 Pro ball head for my light-medium duty ball head and I purchased the Really Right Stuff BH-55 Pro ball head as my heavy duty ball head.
--
Tom Webster

OP twebster New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Interesting review

[quote]I am somewhat confused as to how you consider a tripod to be more complex than a ballhead, I'd be interested to hear your rationale on that.[ quote]

Ball heads are relatively simple mechanisms that require few individual parts and limited materials. Take apart a tripod. There are many more parts that require different materials under different types of stresses.
--
Tom Webster

Bob Sal Senior Member • Posts: 1,529
Re: Benro KS-2 Tear-Down and Review

" purchased the Really Right Stuff BH-40 Pro ball head for my light-medium duty ball head and I purchased the Really Right Stuff BH-55 Pro ball head as my heavy duty ball head."

Too bad you didn't get to try the Novoflex Classic Ball 3 or 5. Then you would really see what a superior ball head is like.

OP twebster New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Benro KS-2 Tear-Down and Review

"Too bad you didn't get to try the Novoflex Classic Ball 3 or 5. Then you would really see what a superior ball head is like."

Possibly but I purchased the Really Right Stuff ball heads as they were the best for my needs.
--
Tom Webster

Bob Sal Senior Member • Posts: 1,529
Re: Benro KS-2 Tear-Down and Review

Wihout having seen the Novoflex ClassicBalls, The Magic Balls, Linhof Profi II and III, and countless other top end heads it would be very difficult to determine what would really be best for your needs.

The Classic Balls simply can not shift position when applying tension or a lock regardless of the weight on the head and the detents for tension are click stopped for absolute repeatibility.

They also work differently than other heads as when tension or lock is applied to the ball the ball does not move. The housing clamps down on the ball. Totally different from what you explained in your tear down report.

OP twebster New Member • Posts: 15
Re: Benro KS-2 Tear-Down and Review

Bob Sal wrote:

Wihout having seen the Novoflex ClassicBalls, The Magic Balls, Linhof Profi II and III, and countless other top end heads it would be very difficult to determine what would really be best for your needs.

No, Bob, it was not difficult at all. The RRS heads do exactly what I need without having to buy the even more expensive heads that you have listed. The RRS ball heads lock up my various lens/camera combinations solidly and are easily adjusted, too. For the types of photography I do not need more than that. However, the Benro and other cheap to mid-range ball heads cannot do this, therefore, they are not adequate for my purposes.
--
Tom Webster

Bob Sal Senior Member • Posts: 1,529
Re: Benro KS-2 Tear-Down and Review

" the best for my needs."

How does one determine " the best for my needs" without seeing other high quality heads?

You may have chosen a head that meets your needs but not one that is " the best for my needs".

sugar Senior Member • Posts: 2,136
Be honest with yourself

a reason besides the quality of these tripods to never consider them.

Do you accept other people to use your work for free? Or do you copyright-protect your images?

If so, buying a BENRO tripod or Ballhead is inconsistent. They are a blatant copy of Gitzo/Arca,... violating the rights you cherish about your own intellectual work... think about it ...

sugar

twebster wrote:

There's so much talk about Benro products in the various
photography forums, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I
was going to order a tripod to evaluate but that added up to too
much expense. Instead, I ordered one of their ball heads. I ordered
a Benro KS-2 ball head that is supposed to support 30 pounds...

Bwaa..haa...ha...ha...ha!

Sorry for the laughter. It is, without a doubt, one of the worst
examples of poor engineering and shoddy workmanship I've ever held
in my hand! The Benro ball heads are superficially similar to Kirk,
Arca-Swiss, and Gitzo ball heads. Very superficially!

Here's a link to my review of the KS-2 that I posted on my web site...

http://www.tomwebsterphoto.com/Essays/Benro/benroks2.htm

I know some people claim to have had good experience with these
ball heads but I can't imagine, after I tore my new ball head
apart, the ball heads will last very long at all. This also makes
me wonder what corners were cut in producing their tripods which
are much more complex to engineer and manufacture. Perhaps in the
future I may purchase a small Benro tripod and tear it apart like I
did this ball head.
--
Tom Webster

-- hide signature --

I can crop at the long end myself if I want to

http://supermasj.zenfolio.com/

AcuraCL Senior Member • Posts: 1,503
Re: Be honest with yourself
1

Yeah right. And Really Right Stuff and Kirk and Markins ballheads aren't copies?

Or is it just Chinese copies that bother you?

I think there's more than just a whiff of anti-Chinese sentiment behind this whole issue ....

sugar Senior Member • Posts: 2,136
No they aren't

They use the same concept, but do not copy it. They are different ballheads.

AcuraCL wrote:

Yeah right. And Really Right Stuff and Kirk and Markins ballheads
aren't copies?

Or is it just Chinese copies that bother you?

I think there's more than just a whiff of anti-Chinese sentiment
behind this whole issue ....

-- hide signature --

I can crop at the long end myself if I want to

http://supermasj.zenfolio.com/

Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,391
OK, here's honesty...

sugar wrote:

a reason besides the quality of these tripods to never consider them.

Do you accept other people to use your work for free? Or do you
copyright-protect your images?

If so, buying a BENRO tripod or Ballhead is inconsistent. They are
a blatant copy of Gitzo/Arca,... violating the rights you cherish
about your own intellectual work... think about it ...

Benro builds Gitzo copies because Gitzo approached Benro as a low cost manufacturer. Had Benro quality proved higher, Gitzo would have shut down their expensive European facilities and farmed out everything to China.

Gitzo also came up with "Basalt", a way of making "fiberglass" look and sound more exotic.

Think about that...

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Ciao! Joe

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AcuraCL Senior Member • Posts: 1,503
Re: No they aren't

And judging from the tear-down review the OP provided, NEITHER is Benro a copy. The design is quite different, which he concludes leads to reduced performance/longevity.

All they copied is a look. Big deal.

activin Regular Member • Posts: 371
Re: No they aren't

In support of AcuraCL:

I have been researching for a good ballhead... while the RRS and Kirks are slightly different variants of the Arca Swiss (RRS is more innovative, Kirks are quite similar except the 3 knob adjustments), the Markins is IDENTICAL to the Arca Swiss!!!

I definitely appreciate the review by Webster, but I would love to see a tear-down review of other competing Arca clones, namely the RRSs, Kirks and Markins. Let's see what kind of high-quality material they use for their $300+ ballheads.

I definitely welcome some competition in this ballhead market. There is definitely some collusion going on here... how can the heck can a ballhead cost $400 USD? That's just insane... and I am glad these Chinese folks are putting some pressure on the other manufacturers.

sugar wrote:
They use the same concept, but do not copy it. They are different
ballheads.

AcuraCL wrote:

Yeah right. And Really Right Stuff and Kirk and Markins ballheads
aren't copies?

Or is it just Chinese copies that bother you?

I think there's more than just a whiff of anti-Chinese sentiment
behind this whole issue ....

-- hide signature --

Equipment in profile

sugar Senior Member • Posts: 2,136
I don't see the problem

In order to keep competitive, Gitzo has been searching for ways to reduce it costs, and outsourcing a part of its production towards China. While I don't condone it, it's not illegal. Violating copyrights is. The story I heard, Benro started producing copies from the moment Gitzo started production in China, which made Gitzo retire from the project

sugar

Joseph S. Wisniewski wrote:

sugar wrote:

a reason besides the quality of these tripods to never consider them.

Do you accept other people to use your work for free? Or do you
copyright-protect your images?

If so, buying a BENRO tripod or Ballhead is inconsistent. They are
a blatant copy of Gitzo/Arca,... violating the rights you cherish
about your own intellectual work... think about it ...

Benro builds Gitzo copies because Gitzo approached Benro as a low
cost manufacturer. Had Benro quality proved higher, Gitzo would
have shut down their expensive European facilities and farmed out
everything to China.

Gitzo also came up with "Basalt", a way of making "fiberglass" look
and sound more exotic.

Think about that...

-- hide signature --

I can crop at the long end myself if I want to

http://supermasj.zenfolio.com/

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