Manfrotto BeFree 2N1 Tripod/Monopod Review
When I think of Italian products, I tend to think of high end sports cars and sauce mixed with carbohydrates. But there’s something else that also comes to mind…
Manfrotto, a brand famous for high end camera gear, and like anything else Italian, it comes sporting a high rate of quality, but that is often paired with a high end price tag.
For that reason I can understand why many may hesitate at purchasing a Manfrotto tripod. You really need to think about the balance of “you get what you pay for” and “can I actually afford this?!” But this is where you start to look at things such as build quality, specs, and user experience. At least you don’t have to be concerned about servicing costs, too.
After going through many different travel tripods in my time, I finally own a Manfrotto one. I now have the Manfrotto BeFree 2N1 Aluminium tripod – there are a few things that I would have preferred to be different, but based on the previous ones I’ve had this one fit as a replacement.
But really, for what it does, it does very well and is a great product. I do have a lot of faith and trust in this one. So read more about it in my Manfrotto BeFree 2N1 tripod review below!
Manfrotto BeFree 2N1 Tripod Specs
- It is easy and quick to switch to Monopod mode
- Stylish and very well built
- The included head is strong and secure
- The max height is great
- For a travel tripod if feels weighty
- Would be great if it packed up even smaller
- The small bag hook isn’t particularly practical
- The lowest height could be lower
Weight: 1.66 kg (3.6 lbs)
Safety Payload Weight: 8 kg (17 lbs)
Maximum Height (With Centre Column Down): 128 cm (50″)
Maximum Height: 151 cm (59.4″)
Min Height: 40 cm (15.7″)
Closed Length: 40 cm (15.7″)
Base Type: 40 mm (1.5″)
Base Diameter: 40 mm (1.5″)
Centre Column: Rapid
Maximum Working Temperature: 70 C (158 F)
Minimum Working Temperature: -30 C (-22 F)
Monopod Payload: 5 kg (11 lbs)
Monopod Max Height: 156 cm (61.4″)
Monopod Weight: 0.75 kg (1.6 lbs)
Leg Sections: 4
Leg Type: Single
Leg Angles: 22°, 54°, 89°
Leg Lock Type: Flip Lock
Legs Tube Diameter: 12 / 15.5 / 19 / 22.5 mm (0.47″ / 0.61″/ 0.74″ / 0.88″)
Plate Type: 200PL PRO
Top Attachment: 1/4″ screw
Quick Release: Yes
Upper Disc Diameter: 40 mm (1.5″)
Head Type: Ball Head
Ball Locking: Yes
Independent Pan Lock: Yes
Pan Drag: NONE
Panoramic Rotation: 360
The Manfrotto BeFree 2N1 Aluminium tripod is a stylish black and white aluminium travel tripod. Designed and manufactured in Italy, it’s ready to throw in your bag and see the world with you.
It comes equipped with a Ball Head containing their 200PL PRO plate and combined with their QPL Travel Lever. One of the legs can be easily detached and connected to the centre column and ball head to form a Monopod.
You can comfortably attach up to 8kg while in tripod mode and up to 5kg when set up as a monopod. There is a small hook attached to the side of it to hang a bag for extra stability in windier weather, but I found that hook to be relatively useless with most of the bags I have. The straps on them didn’t grab very well.
You’ll also find a Easy Link connector built on to the tripod to allow you to connect a number of extra accessories, such as external monitors, lights, or to get your camera lower to the ground with another arm attached.
Being a premium and well known brand you would expect great build quality and craftsmanship. Being Italian I would also expect a level of high standards, passion, and pride. That is certainly the case for this model.
Perched amongst their range are the Manfrotto BeFree series of tripods – this example is a 2N1 model, meaning it has an inbuilt monopod capability.[👍🏼 Related: How to use a monopod | Carbon Fiber vs Aluminum Tripod Guide]
This particular one is made from lightweight aluminium, fitted with smooth plastic switches and dials, and equipped with a sturdy modest ball head.
It feels solid and it does not feel cheap. It does not feel flimsy or fiddly. It feels precise. I can’t begin to imagine how well built their higher end products are if this one feels this way. I’ve used other Manfrotto products throughout the years and I have to say that is the case for those as well.
The included Advanced 494 aluminium Center ball head is not complicated – it is quite a simple set up and it feels quite solid.
It does everything you’d need, nothing more and nothing less. If you require more than the standard expected features you can replace it with any other tripod head in their line up.
Size & Handling
To put it simply, it is quite the average size for a fold up travel tripod. When completely packed up it is 40cm long, but chunky in size. There is a lot of wasted space in the middle which is a bit of a shame, especially with newer products such as the Peak Design Travel Tripod that do a good job at minimising this space.
It comes with a small bag that fits it quite well and is fairly light, to not add anymore weight to the overall Manfrotto BeFree 2N1 Aluminium tripod package.
Speaking of weight, however, for a travel tripod it’s not the lightest available. Weighing in at 1.66 kg (3.6 lbs), you do need to consider it when packing or lugging it around during the long days of adventuring.
Fully extended the Manfrotto BeFree 2N1 Aluminium tripod will reach 151cm (59.4″) or if you don’t raise the centre column you’ll have a maximum height of 128cm (50″). This should, in most cases, be high enough for what somebody should need.
The lowest height is determined by the centre column length, and that sits at 40cm (15.7″). The centre column is rigid and firm, the twist dial is large and easy to grasp and tighten. It really is a well built package.
Detaching the monopod leg is a relatively seamless experience. It’s not fiddly, but there are a few steps involved.
Once detached and connected to the centre column, you’ll have a monopod that can extend to a maximum of 156cm (61.4″) and weighing in at only 750g (1.6lbs).
Ready for you to load it with up to 5kg of gear, you’ll have your mobile stability whenever you pack your tripod. No need for two different products!
Leg Locks & Joints
The latches on the legs of the Manfrotto BeFree 2N1 Aluminium tripod are large and easy to use. Just a quick flick and the legs slide through. They’re rather simple in that it’s not friction based. If the latch is closed the legs stay put, if the latch is open the legs will move.
I’ve found the twist action ones have a flaw, in that if you don’t tighten them sufficiently you’ll have potential movement. I’ve also found that if you constantly over tighten them, they get more difficult to use later. In saying this though, if twist action is more your thing, a Manfrotto tripod is a great option.
The legs have three inbuilt fixed angles that click in to place to make it steady and easy to set up. You can of course set the tripod to whatever angles you may need – the quick release latches allow you to adjust with just a free hand.
There is a nice amount of resistance in the legs to make it feel strong and purposeful, as if it would not shift unexpectedly, giving you the confidence and stability that you need while using it.
Equipped as standard on the Manfrotto BeFree 2N1 Aluminium tripod is the Manfrotto Advanced 494 Aluminium Centre Ball Head. It is a small, strong, and intuitive tripod head that allows for easy movement and adjustability to help you to get the angle and shot you’re after.
The ball head contains 3 different modes of control. You’ll find a large main knob to move the main ball section, which also contains an integrated friction knob that adjusts the tension of the ball.
This allows you to customise just how smoothly or firmly the ball moves while under different loads. You’ll also find an independent panoramic knob that keeps the horizon level and allows the camera to turn horizontally without your horizons being inconsistent.
The head contains the Manfrotto 200PL PRO plate which is fully compatible with many different heads, including the Manfrotto RC2 and Arca-swiss style heads. If you leave this plate fixed to your camera you’ll seamlessly be able to use all of the different Manfrotto heads and almost all tripod heads containing the Arca-style attachments.
Value for Money
To be blunt, the Manfrotto BeFree 2N1 Aluminium tripod is on a higher price spectrum than many other similar travel tripod options out there. By similar, I mean the features and I’m not talking build quality.
There are a variety of cheaper, other brand tripods available with similar specs,as the Manfrotto BeFree 2N1, but whether or not they are the same level of quality is questionable.
This tripod feels like it would survive a great deal and I would not expect it to fail anytime soon, but I guess that depends on just how hard of a life you give it!
With me, I say it’d last a lifetime. In comparing it to the number of cheaper tripods I have owned, I have to admit this does feel very well and solidly built.
Manfrotto BeFree 2n1 Tripod Review | Conclusion
Tripods are one of the most varying accessories you can find in the photography world. They come in a tremendous variety of different builds and sizes. From mini tripods to phone tripods, all the way up to the full size carbon fibre tripods built to hold the largest of set ups.
They’re available for any photographer with any range of budget. Those who just want to mount their happy little point and shoot to take a group snapshot, to the casual photographer going on holiday, to the full time professional with copious amounts camera gear.
What I have found in my time is that more often than not you get what you pay for. As an example, when I started out I had a $15 hand-me-down tripod that worked just fine, up until a leg snapped off. Following that I didn’t have much money and I hit up eBay for a replacement.
That worked well until the legs jammed inside and I could no longer pack it up. This is when I learned that brands with a reputation and quality control set in place came in to play.
Fast forward a number of years and a few other varying experiences behind me, this Manfrotto BeFree 2N1 Aluminium tripod does what you’d expect, and does it well.
At the end of the day a tripod realistically just needs to be stable and sturdy. But when it can do that and give you full confidence with every adjustment, that is worth the extra dollars. I may not be able to afford to own an Italian sports car, but I can manage an Italian tripod!
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.