Long Term Review: Benro Mach 3 Tripod.
I thought it long overdue that I write a review of the excellent Benro Mach 3 tripod. In fact, this review is probably a couple of years overdue! However, the fact that it's taken me this long to get around to it makes the review all the more worthwhile. The reason being that my trustee Mach 3 is still as good today as when I received it back in 2018. Since then, the Mach 3 tripod has accompanied me to all four corners of the UK. It's been on countless trips to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, including two trips to the most northerly part of the UK on Unst, which is a truly wild and unforgiving location, then further afield to the Faroe Islands. It's fair to say that the Mach 3 tripod is the workhorse of my landscape photography kit. Cameras and lenses come and go, the tripod remains the same.
Firstly I'd like to begin by clearing something up. As a Benro Pro Partner, people often, very wrongly, assume that I'm praising these products out of some misplaced obligation. I am not. When we are working professionally and in remote places it's absolutely essential to have faith in your equipment, to have confidence that it will perform well in any conditions and not let you down. THIS is why I love the Mach 3 tripod, and, to be fair, all of my other Benro tripods. I have had many tripods over the years before switching to Benro, and now I would use no other.
I am using the Mach 3 TMA37C as my main tripod; which is a 3 section, carbon fibre tripod. The tripod also features magnesium castings. These details make for a tripod with an incredible strength to weight ratio. I do prefer a 3 section to a 4 section, just for that little bit of quickness when working fast in changeable conditions. And despite being 6' 1" the TMA37C tripod is certainly tall enough for me, particularly with the extendable column which adds another 30cm should you need it. Benro also do a 4 section version, plus other variants of the Mach 3 which can be found in the link here. Included in the bag are spiked feet as an alternative to the rubber ones which come attached, and a short column to swap out should you wish to get close to the ground, for example for macro photography.
One of the first trips I embarked on with the Mach 3 was to the Shetland Isles, where I was based on Unst. It is a truly wild place. Unst is also one of the most magical places that I've ever visited; I can think of nowhere else with such a sense of the elements being in control. It can however be a particularly challenging environment for the photographer. Hurricane speed winds are common place, even in mid-summer. And we did indeed encounter 70mph winds at one point during the first trip. I always like to share an anecdote about the image above. This is a long exposure (60 secs), made on a day when the wind speeds did actually max out at 70mph! I think this is great testament to the quality of this tripod. Admittedly I was huddled down the cliff face, as much out of the wind as I could be, but it was still a particularly hairy moment! My friend Paul was gobsmacked that I managed to pull off some of the images that I did during this trip, including the one below, shot during a mere 50mph wind.
All of the images in this blog post were made with use of the Mach 3, the one below at wonderful Dorset. Before I switched to Benro, I was using another major brand of tripod which I will not name, but I'm sure many of you could probably guess! The previous tripod which was excellent to be fair, great quality; its achilles heel was the fact that it employed clasps rather than twist lock for the leg adjustment. As landscape, and especially seascape photographers, our kit is bombarded by the elements. And if, like me, you enjoy getting stuck into the water, your tripod needs to be serviceable. The problem with the clasps is that each one of them corroded within 18 months, due to seawater ingress, despite being cleaned regularly. I replaced the clasps at a whopping £60 each! This was the main reason I made the switch to a more durable and serviceable twist lock mechanism. It doesn't matter how much sea water gets in there; with a quick rinse afterwards, you'll be sure of a long life for your tripod. Unlike the clasps, there are no small metal parts which are easily corroded.
The above 'action shot' is yours truly on Unst with the Mach 3 and GD3WH geared head, which also accompanies me on my travels.
The above 'behind the lens' shot is from that time we 'accidentally' climbed the highest mountain in the Faroes, due to a navigational error. These things are pre-destined, it seems, and what a view. One of the great things about the Mach 3 is the strength to weight ratio. The rigidity for what is a relatively lightweight tripod is simply amazing. It also enabled me to capture the stunning panoramic views pictured below. Panoramic photos are not something I feel inclined to shoot very often, as I prefer a more intimate scene, but the epic nature of the Faroese landscape really lends itself towards vast panoramas. During these fairly arduous hikes I am grateful for the weight saving!
The above black + white image is a more recent one, from the Cairngorms in 2022. The Mach 3 performed faultlessly in sub-zero temperatures. And below are the beautiful ancient pine forests of the Cairngorms.
To finish, the above two pics were taken in my garden this morning. Five years on and the trustee Mach 3 has been battered and abused on all of those trips. Considering I'm not exactly light on my kit, and this tripod has been bashed against rocks and forced into all kinds of positions it's looking pretty good! Just a few superficial scratches. There's not a lot more to say about a tripod; it's one of those things that just works and the Mach3 performs flawlessly, always.
Very highly recommended!
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All the best,