Benro introduced a couple new fluid heads this year. The 75mm H8 $609 and 100mm H10 $729. These are more expensive and are considered a high end product in the Benro fluid head line. I decided to try out the H8 since I’m using 75mm bowl tripods for the C100 and Hybrid cameras. My first reaction when I unboxed the H8 was wow! Nice finish and all around has a quality feel to it. It comes with an arm that can be mounted on either side. The layout is logical with the tilt lock on the left side. The pan lock is at the front of the head. The H8 head pans 360° and offers a tilt range of -75° to 90°. An adjustable length pan bar handle is also included.
Benro H8 Key Features
- 75mm Ball
- Load Capacity: 17.6 lb
- 5-Step Counterbalance
- Calibrated Sliding Top Platform
- Snap-In Quick Release Plate
- Independent 4-Step Pan and Tilt Drag
- Adjustable Length Pan Bar Handle
- Dual Rosettes for Mounting Two Pan Bars
The H8 has a 5-step counterbalance: 0 lb, 5.5 lb, 9.9 lb, 14.3 lb, 17.6 lb. This in theory should give the head a nice range for different camera weight. I set my C100 with a Zacuto C100/C300 Studio Baseplate. The camera with a Canon 24-105 and some extra pieces of rigging came in at around 8 lbs. I couldn’t get a proper counterbalance. Setting 1 wasn’t enough and setting 2 was too much. I put more weight on the camera to get it close to 9.9 lbs when I did the head was much more balanced. Really best to get close to the weight for each setting. Adding weight to the camera isn’t really a solution but if you work the balance a little you can achieve proper balance for that particular move. This is an issue with most fluid heads that use a step system. A dial type can be fine tuned to perfection. I’ve found high end heads are little more forgiving in between settings.
If you shoot with a camera like the Cinema EOS and Sony NEX cameras you have several lenses that for the most part don’t weigh the same or share the same length you are going to have to rebalance with each lense change.
With the proper camera weight to match the counterbalance the pan and tilt is pretty smooth, but unfortunately only at maximum resistance. In the lower settings it still drifts when you take your hand off the head. The H8 isn’t for cameras that weight under 6 pounds. It’s just not going to work. A better choice is the Benro S6 or Benro S8. Even the S8 might be a little strong for a GH4 or A7s without a rig.
The top plate is very large. Great for the Sony style ENG plates. For smaller quick release plates like the Kessler and Really Right Stuff it’s just a little too big. In order to use a Really Right Stuff LRR-II I had to put a shim (old credit card) under it so the clamp clears the top plate. I didnt want to scrap it up!
Moving to the QR10 Snap-In Video Quick Release Plate isn’t really an option for me. I like the Arc Swiss stuff.
The pan and tilt action is smooth with no kickback. I do wish it had one more drag setting on both pan and tilt to give a little more resistance. That would probably help with in between counterbalance issues too.
The Benro H8 is a pretty nice fluid head for $609. As of writing this it’s available from B&H for $499 while supplies last. Now thats a deal!
Up next the Benro C3770TN and Benro S6 fluid head. Wow lots of Benro stuff going on here! I decided to pick up the S6 for my lightweight hybrid cameras. It does work pretty well with the weight of these. Field testing in the mountains of Yosemite soon.
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