Benro’s Tablepod Flex is a small table-top tripod with an unusually versatile design. It’s perhaps primarily designed for content creators who use a smartphone to shoot video just as much as stills. But it should be equally interesting for photographers looking for a lightweight, versatile support when they don’t want to carry a full-size tripod.
Benro Tablepod Flex Kit at a glance:
- $160 / £140
- 27cm height
- 30.5cm folded length
- 430g weight
- Swappable rigid or bendable legs
Benro Tablepod Flex Kit: key features
- Phone holder: A folding plastic clamp will hold devices up to 9cm wide, with a cold shoe on top to take a microphone or light
- Leg clips: The kit includes a couple of clips that are designed help secure the bendy legs in place around branches or poles
- Selfie stick: You can screw the three legs together and add the ball head to make a selfie stick about 65cm long
- Case: The tripod is supplied in a neoprene case, with a carabiner for attaching it to a bag or strap
Uniquely, hidden inside each hollow carbon-fibre leg is another flexible arm, which can either be swapped into place on the central ‘spider’, or screwed onto the end of the leg via the threaded rubber foot. They can then, in principle, be used Gorrillapod-style to secure a camera to a handy branch or railing. That’s assuming you can find such a thing exactly where you want to set up.
Those bendy arms have another function too, in that they can be screwed into sockets at the top of the legs to hold accessories such as lights. This might, for example, be useful for positioning a couple of small LED lights for low-level macro shooting. On this note, the legs can be set independently to three different angles, including almost completely flat.
At the top of the tripod there’s a small ball head, with an ‘upside down’ design and a couple of slots for rotating your camera into portrait format. The Arca-Swiss compatible camera clamp includes a smooth panning base with its own lever lock. But unfortunately, there’s no embedded bubble level to help set it flat for shooting panoramas.
When put to the test, the Tablepod Flex generally works well. Both the leg-set and the head are surprisingly strong, and I found it provided secure support for a small mirrorless camera and standard zoom. At a pinch, it’ll even hold a full-frame Sony A7R V and 24-105mm f/4 lens.
However, while those bendy arms can be useful, they’re also often quite frustrating. Screw on a light or microphone, and it’ll usually end up pointing the wrong way and need an extra ball head to get it set correctly. Then when it’s time to pack up again, the arms need to be straightened completely to slide back into the legs; otherwise, they’re prone to getting stuck inside. It might just be easier to use a couple of magic arms.
Benro Tablepod Flex : Our Verdict
The Benro Tablepod Flex is a very nicely-made little tripod that’ll provide a robust support for a small compact or mirrorless camera. But it’s undeniably expensive, and I’m not convinced by the real-world usefulness of those extra bendy arms.
Also consider: Benro Tablepod Kit
If you don’t need the bendy arms of the Flex kit, Benro also offers the smaller Tablepod Kit. With shorter carbon-fibre legs, this simpler model folds down to 22.2cm and weighs a mere 250g. It costs $105 / £110, with a smartphone clamp included in the box.