Benro H8 Fluid Head Hands On Review

August 16, 201410 Comments

Benro H8 Fluid Head Hand On Review from Erik Naso on Vimeo.

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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About the Author ()

I'm a broadcast DP In San Diego. I enjoy sharing what I'm working on and testing new equipment. This blog is also part of giving back. I've learned so much from so many people.

Comments (10)

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  1. Dave Dugdale says:

    Eric, nice video review. I am guessing you used the GH4 to record this, when i watch the video within a Firefox browser it is noticeable out of sync, the audio is leading the video. All other browsers is looks acceptable.

    I ran many tests on this and passed them on to Panasonic, I believe they are working on a fix. If you want more info email me and i can send you a private link to the video I sent the Panasonic engineers.

    • Erik Naso says:

      Thanks Dave.
      Idfont use Firefox much anymore. Use either Chrome or Safari mostly. I’ll check it out. I wonder why Firfgox has issues. The voice overs are from a Zoom recorder and the on camera was internal straight into the GH4 in 4K. Maybe it’s a Firefox plugin issue. Might not like 24 fps.

  2. Guy McLoughlin says:

    FYI: I’m using Firefox version 31 under Windows 7, and I’m not seeing any syncing problems with this video.

    • Dave Dugdale says:

      Hmmm, that is odd I am also using Windows 7 and FF 31. I tried it on my wifes Imac using FF and I can also see the sync issue.

  3. Alex says:

    How would you compare this to the likes of the DS10 and FSB6?

    • Erik Naso says:

      The Benro H8 are pretty good but they are a value. I understand people dont have the funds for $1K and up fluid heads but you do get a lot for the price if you can deal with a few quirks. If I had I had the funds I would go for a Miller Compass 15.

      • Alex says:

        I feel like the entry level Millers would have similar issues with counterbalance. I have used them quite a few times, but always with preconfigured payloads. They only have two counterbalance settings, which I feel would be a problem. Compass line, on the other hand, is quite a bit more upmarket than this.

        • Erik Naso says:

          The Sachtler FSB-6 is three times the price at $1337. and has a 10-step counterbalance. The Miller DS10 retails for $1156. Thats twice the price. The Miller Compass 15 is $1500. with a max payload of 19 lbs. I use the Compass 15 at work and it’s very good. Even with a GH4 and a 12-35 attached I can balance it with no kickback. So for 399. on sale the H8 is an incredible value if you can deal with the quirky counterbalance. It works great when the camera is at the weight of the setting. The Compass 15 is more forgiving in between settings. Also has more drag settings. Again you have to compromise for going on the lesser expensive side. You can defiantly do a whole lot worse. Benro is what I would consider the best in class for this price range.

  4. Christopher John Taylor says:

    Hmm, see to me… this is junk. I wouldn’t stick my name on or anywhere near it that’s for sure. But I do appreciate the review Erik as always.

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