Our Hands-on Review the Benro Hydra 2 Waterproof Tripod: A Valuable Addition to Your Kitbag?

There’s an old saying that two factors affect price when buying a tripod: stability and weight. Benro proved that there were two more. So, is their Hydra 2 worth the price?

A few months ago I wrote a review of two Benro tripods. One was the Benro Slim, a lightweight and affordable travel model that I find perfect for carrying on my bike or in my backpack while hiking. The other was the Benro Tortoise, a columnless tripod that impressed me so much that I ended up buying the model that was lent to me for review.

I often shoot on sandy beaches, standing in the water, and so when I get home, with my IP53 waterproof camera and lens, I take the turtle’s legs off and wash them in the shower. Sand and seawater get into the tripod legs. Sand and salt erode and corrode most things and I want my kit to last, so I consider careful maintenance important.

But recently I saw an advertisement for the Benro INDURO Hydra 2, which claimed to be a waterproof tripod. So I contacted Benro staff and asked if I could put it to the test. Two days later, the postman delivered it to me.

Test in real conditions of the Benro Hydra 2

As expected from Benro, the tripod is extremely well made. It comes in a nice carry case and is separately packaged in a nylon drawstring pouch. Besides the tripod, the carrying case also contains a pouch with spiked feet, an alternative to the rubber ones with which it is equipped, as well as a key.

The INDURO range of tripods feature 8-layer carbon fiber tubes, making them, according to Benro, 60% stronger than conventional tripods. All five leg sections are secured with coated metal twist locks that are wide and easy to grip, even with gloves. A quarter turn allows sections to slide in and out. Due to the waterproofing, the twist locks are tighter than other tripods I’ve used, and the legs provide more resistance when pulling out. But it’s reasonable to assume that anyone who buys this model for its waterproof features will be fit enough to venture into harsh environments. Therefore, it will not be a problem for them. However, if you have a disability that affects grip or arm strength then this may not be the tripod for you.

This waterproofing seems to do the job. After leaving the tripod in the sea for about ten minutes, letting the waves wash over the twist locks, I dried it off with a towel and slid the legs back and forth. There was no graininess to the movement so the sand didn’t get into the running, which happens with every other tripod I’ve ever used. Also, after removing the feet and checking the insides of the legs, there were no signs of water seepage. I also poked my feet in the soft wet sand and that also held up.

The tripod itself is very stable. This is something that Turtle impressed me. Unlike the Tortoise, the Hydra 2 has an invertible center column. I’m not a fan of center columns, but this one, when fully extended, is rock solid, and when fully extended, the tripod reaches 60.4 inches (1533mm).

It is locked in place by means of an oversized locking collar with wing tabs which makes it easily maneuverable. The base of the column has a weight hook on which to hang your camera bag. On the spider is an upgrade bubble. It also has an accessory mounting screw and an eyelet for mounting third-party carrying straps. It should be noted that the center column adjuster has no waterproof feature.

The top mounting plate has a double threaded screw, so can take heads with 3/8″ and ¼” sockets. Unlike the Tortoise, this camera does not come with a ball head.

The Hydra 2 can be used with the legs folding independently up to 90 degrees, which is useful for rough terrain.

For storage, the legs fold up 180 degrees on the extended center column. This means that in storage the tripod is only 16.7 inches (424mm), short enough to fit in my small backpack and bike panniers. However, this reduced length means a slight sacrifice in its width in the storage position.

This tripod is sturdy and is designed for larger cameras than mine; it has a maximum payload of 17 kg (37.5 lbs), so for my OM system cameras it was overkill. Also, the ball head I used for testing, Benro’s excellent GX25, seemed a little dwarfed on the top plate.

Environmental and social impact

As promised, in all my reviews, I will mention the environmental and social impact of the products as they become increasingly important to photographers. All the equipment we buy will have an environmental impact. It’s good to know that companies are taking concrete steps to address it.

Benro’s website does not include any environmental performance or carbon footprint data, nor does it post a commitment to combat modern slavery. That’s not to say they’re bad, just that they don’t share a lot of information.

BENRO is committed to providing environmentally friendly products, to reduce environmental impact, from environmental green magnesium alloy material, natural rubber to finished packaging.

Although lacking in detail, I consider this statement to be better than the greenwashing of some other manufacturers who hide poor performance behind convoluted policies and promising statements for the future.

On contacting their main distributor here in the UK, they told me that Benro now takes environmental impact seriously.

Benro has recently taken steps to improve these aspects of his business. More recently, they installed solar panels on the roof of their factory and office buildings to provide electricity and they also recently discontinued several products due to the particular anodizing process that was used on them.

What I do and don’t like.

This is a specialized tripod aimed at a niche market. It will appeal to the serious and adventurous outdoor photographer who, like me, wade into the sea or rivers to take their pictures of landscapes and seascapes. I can also imagine it being bought by wildlife photographers who hang out in the lakes to take those pictures of waterfowl at water level. If one combines photography with climbing, hiking, biking, sailing, kayaking or backpacking, it will be a worthwhile investment. It will also be a boon for those who want a lightweight tripod that’s strong enough to carry heavy video gear.

The only downside for me is that unlike the columnless turtle design, you can’t put all the legs at 90 degrees without raising the center column. Thus, taking a picture from a bird’s eye view is only possible with the column inverted, which means partially dismantling the column to do this. Personally, I would like to see a columnless version as most of my photography is taken at knee level and lower. Alternatively, a short column like they do for other models, or an adapter to fit a head directly to the spider would be welcome.

Other than that, this is a superb, high-quality, precision-built tripod that anyone would be happy to have in their arsenal.

Conclusion

In use, it was an exceptional kit. You know when you’re handling quality gear, and this one is superbly built.

At the start of this review, I mentioned the three factors that need to be balanced: weight, stability, and price. This tripod is lightweight at only 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg) and extremely stable, so we can expect the price to be on the high side. However, Benro has added the two additional features of strength and waterproofing, and this is also reflected in the price. At $450, this won’t be in many people’s budget. It’s aimed at serious professional photographers and videographers who need superior gear with the added features of the Benro INDURO Hydra 2 – especially waterproofing – and for them it will be an attractive proposition.

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