Reviews |Benro Rhino FRHN34C

Benro Rhino FRHN34C Review

Benro Rhino review
Review

Price when reviewed

£289

$412

Our Verdict

When Benro launched the Mach3 tripod a few years back, the company established itself as a force in the tripod market.

The Mach3 is a workhorse, solid unyielding in strength and performance, and it wasn’t a bad looking piece of kit either, so how do you improve on a tripod that’s pretty much perfect.

That answer looks to be the Rhino series, four beautifully designed tripods that show just what can be done with a bit of refined design, CNC and carbon.
Again these tripods, like the Mach3, are lightweight and functional, with a few unique features that set the Rhino apart.

For

  • Beautifully designed
  • CNC machined
  • Descent height to weight

Against

  • Almost too good to use
  • Accessory ports don't feature stops.
  • Slightly odd leg angle adjusters

The Benro Rhino FRHN34C with VX30 head is amazing, with an elegant design that balances aesthetics with functionality.

What is Benro Rhino FRHN34C with VX30 head?

If you’re into cars, bikes, watches or anything that uses the latest high tech design and materials, then you’re going to love the Rhino Tripods.

This is one camera support that goes the extra mile – I mean, look at that carbon; even Josh would love this one! It’s not just the carbon or the CNC machined metal aesthetics that makes the Rhino stand out; it’s the whole package right down to the core functionality.

Benro Rhino review

There are four options in the Benro Rhino tripod range; the FRHN34C with VX30 head that I’ll be looking at in this review. Then the FRHN05C + VX20 with a max height of 1.39cm (141 extended) with five leg sections, FRHN14C with VX20 head at 137cm (171 extended) and four leg sections and finally the FRHN24C and VX25 head 139cm (175.5cm extended).

Throughout the range, attention has been paid to the detail behind the design aesthetics, and it’s this focus that elevates this tripod well above its price point.

Again like the Mach3 the Benro Rhino FRHN34C is a workhorse of a tripod but refined. The large diameter carbon legs, CNC metalwork all reinforce the feeling of quality.

At a touch over 2kg the Rhino is relatively light considering it’s max height and payload, making it an ideal choice for both mirrorless and DSLR users.

As the tallest of the Rhino range, the FRHN34C is a good choice for most people. At 5 foot 10 the viewfinder is a few inches off full height, but a quick rise of the centre column and it’s spot on.

Like almost all new tripods the Rhino offers up one leg to become a monopod. A newish feature that is becoming more popular is the dual panoramic head, this sees the base and top plate both able to rotate through 360º, and it’s a surprisingly useful feature to have.

The Rhino, on the surface, looks to be almost perfect, at least at first; let’s take a look at the full review and see if it meets expectations.

Specification

  • Max height: 181.4cm
  • Minimum height: 49.1 cm
  • Pack down length: 56cm
  • Max payload:: 20kg
  • 360 pan:: Yes Dual
  • Monopod leg: Yes
  • Monopod height: 181.4
  • Leg lock type: Twist
  • Weight: 2.06kg
  • Leg sections: 4
  • Materials: Carbon fibre, Aluminium
  • Max leg diameter: 32.4mm

Build and Handling

Let’s start at the top and work down. The head, which is the new Benro VX30, instantly sets the design tone. The CNC machining and smooth ball rotation show how Benro has carefully balanced the aesthetics and functionality.

The head features a dual panning motion with 360º rotation through the base and then another full 360º pan around the clamp section. This is a really interesting feature and enables incredibly accurate adjustment when positioning the camera position.

Benro Rhino review

As is now pretty much universal, the head features an Arca Swiss compatible base plate. This base plate is quite small but, for most mirrorless cameras, the size is perfectly good. Some DSLR users might want to invest in a slightly larger version.

The layout of the head is all well worked out with four knobs the lock and unlock the various functions. Firstly the large lock on the front releases the base plate, this has a safety release feature built-in which is a nice touch.

On the opposite side is the top plate rotation lock, once release it enables the clamp to rotate through 360º.

Next is the main ball release, this doesn’t feature friction control, rather it offers a good amount of control over the head from completely loose to locked, which I always think is far better.

Below the main knob is a smaller one that locks and releases the main 360º rotation, similar to the design and similar comments.

Moving down and you have the centre column, which is fixed in position by a twist lock. Undo this, and you can extend the centre column to a max height of 181.4cm.

Unfortunately, although you can remove the centre column, there’s no way to attach the head directly to the legs, so no low angle option without buying one of the shorter column accessories.

On the crown, you have the three-leg angle adjusters with three angle options. These have a slightly strange design, push the large release button, and you can angle the leg up or down, but then you need to push the button on the side of the leg to lock the leg to the ratchet.

It would seem more sensible for this large button to be sprung so that when you release it, it locks the leg angle; it seems like an additional mechanism has been added for no reason.

In between each of the leg angle adjusters are the accessories mounts; these are simple 1/4-inch threads and are a nice addition. However, with my 1/4-inch arms, there was no way to get a solid fit as there’s always a bit of wiggle. Benro may produce an additional arm that provides the snug fit and support required.

Leaving the crown and looking at the legs, and this is where the Rhino stands out. The wide diameter 32mm top section down to the 21.8mm bottom section provides an incredibly solid base.

Each of the four sections is locked in and out of position with a twist of one large leg locks. These are of a decent size and have a positive action.

At the base are the removable rubber feet. These feature a 3/8-inch threads which are pretty standard and enable you to swap out the rubber feet for spikes or wider feet depending on your preference.

One last feature is the monopod leg, a simple twist and one of the legs unscrews; then the head can be removed and placed on top, giving a maximum height of 181.4cm.

Performance

The Rhino tripod packs in the features and looks great, but that will all come to nothing if it doesn’t provide a solid base.

Really while there are a few small design issues where aesthetics have beaten function into the ground, when it comes to support this tripod provides.

Benro Rhino review

Those large diameter legs provide strength when the tripod is at full height, and the tripod a good solid feel.

Placing a Sony A7R II with 24-70mm on top and there’s simply no worries about the stability, it feels rock solid.

The small base plate is well designed, with the rubber strips holding the camera tightly in place. One aspect that I like about this clamp is the safety lock device on the main locking knob; it’s well designed and could help prevent a disaster.

The main ball release knob also works exceptionally well, and provides excellent purchase and control over the head in use.

The dual 360º head is something that is slowly starting to appear on a few tripods. Firstly there’s the usual base 360º rotation that’s common with most tripod heads, but then just by the clamp, there’s an addition lever lock.

Twist this, and it releases the clamp rotation so you can rotate the clamp but not the ball of the head. This means that you can accurately position without the need to move legs or reposition making it an ideal option for macro.

I was really surprised at how well this feature works, and it’s well worth looking out for.

Moving down to the centre column and the twist-lock design that reflects those used on the legs stands out. Function wise it’s far better than the design used on the Mach 3.

Setting up the tripod and the large leg locks work well; they’re easy to locate, use and lock. These two locks are as good as they get for design and profile.

On the centre column’s base is the bag hook if additional weight is needed. Thankfully this wasn’t required during my test, but it’s good to see the hook in place.

The design of the centre column does enable low angle shooting and can be flipped by unscrewing and flipping upside down. It’s not the most elegant of solutions but works.

In use, the Rhino performs exceptionally well and is a pleasure to use. It also has the addition of a few really interesting features.

These features are divided into two camps; those that work and those that don’t, or at least do but not as well as they could.

For instance, the leg angle adjusters have been over-designed, they work well, but when you want to set up and get shooting, it’s all too easy to forget to push the button to lock the leg angle.

The accessories threads are an excellent idea but need to be refined so arms can be attached snuggly without wiggle.

What works is everything else; it’s just really well designed. The monopod leg stays in place when in tripod mode, and you can carry the tripod by that leg without it coming loose.

That leg once attached to the centre column gives you a decent usable height and works equally well as a mic boom or any other function that required a 1.81m pole.

Then there’s the dual 360º head, this is a surprising feature, and one that seems to be becoming commonplace. It just makes accurate positioning of the head so easy.

Ultimately it’s a very good looking tripod that almost but not quite gets it right.

Final thoughts

The Benro Rhino’s USP has to be its looks, it looks incredible with the CNC metalwork and nicely finished carbon fibre.

The tripod’s core function has also been well thought out, providing a good quality solid base that does the job.

Benro Rhino review

It also shows great innovation with the accessory ports and leg angle adjusters but does fall short on the potential of those two features. However, unlike some other tripods that push the feature set, those small issues do not affect the tripod’s quality or function.

Out in the field, the solid build quality provides the support that you need to capture stunning imagery. The adjustments work well, and it all feels natural to use.

I’ve enjoyed using the Rhino; it’s a support that I can highly recommend and is simply one of the best looking tripods around.

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