Here is a tripod that, although not having AI, is intelligent: the Benro Theta, now on Kickstarter, is an intelligent modular travel tripod with features as automatic leveling or remote camera control.
With a total of nearly US$ 900,000 pledged from a US$ 50,000 goal from nearly 1,700 backers and 39 days to go ((1000% funded in 24 hours), the Benro Theta project on Kickstarter is already made viable, meaning the company, who has more that three decades of experience building equipment for photographers has a new winner in its portfolio. I’ve refrained from sharing many Kickstarter projects, because quite a few do not end well, but this, coming from Benro, is more than a project, as the company started developing the concept in 202, an the Benro Theta also reflects the experience of Benro in the development of other products.
From its travel tripods, of which I’ve a small version which is ideal for traveling and fits in a waist belt pack, to the Polaris smart electric camera tripod head that allows photographers to use mobile phones to remotely control the gimbal’s direction, control camera shooting, and preview the shots in real time, Benro has been at the forefront when it comes to ways to support cameras, be it in the studio , on location or globetrotting with your gear in a backpack. Now the company has the Benro Theta, a tripod with intelligent features.
With mass production and shipping planned for June 2023, the Benro Theta reached its third series of prototypes just before the launch of the Kickstarter campaign. The company says that the tripod, which comes in two versions, Theta and Theta Max, with different dimensions and payloads, is a highly innovative product that combines portability, stability, efficiency and intelligence. Theta offers the same stability a regular tripod does, but, Benro claims, comes “with many extras to help photographers get the shot quickly and without difficulty. From rapid leg deployment and automatic leveling, to remote camera control, automatic exposure adjustment, and livestreaming – Theta is designed to elevate your photographic journey.”
The most intelligent tripod in 2023
It’s not powered by Artificial Intelligence, but Benro Theta does seem to be the most intelligent tripod you can get in 2023. When all the second matter and you need to get the shot, Theta’s level function, allows to turn the ball head into a platform that is always level. Instead of having to take care of whether the framing is horizontal during the shoot – it is horizontal at all times. So, you can stay focused on your composition.
The team behind the project says that “In fact, we initially wanted to design an electric tripod head with built-in leveling that would be travel-friendly. However, the torque of an electronic tripod head is quite high, and making it smaller would give up its stability. With lots of testing, we redesigned Theta’s legs and ball head to make it a truly portable, self-leveling tripod. All without compromising stability and practicality.”
Auto-leveling helps photographers save time by eliminating the need to manually adjust the legs. However, what we ultimately need is to get the camera level on the ball head. The engineers had to find the answer to a key question: “Can Theta continually keep the camera level while we adjust the ball head for composition?” Apparently yes, because, with that question in mind, they designed Theta’s ball head with a locking system that allows the ball head to be aligned with the tripod at all times. This means that the ball head can be switched between free mode and roll lock mode. While in roll lock position, when the tripod is level with the ground, so is the camera.
Modules expand Benro Theta’s functionality
The Benro Theta is not a mere tripod. In fact, it is the center of a versatile modular system that uses smart modules to expand functionality. The three waterproof expansion ports on the top of Theta’s legs are the connection needed to discover what those modules – battery and camera control – can do. The separate battery module design allows Theta to maintain normal tripod characteristics, even with built-in motors and gyroscopes. Theta also gives users the ability to place the full tripod body into water while allowing for manual leg adjustment.
The Theta camera control module fully supports dozens of popular DSLR and mirrorless camera models made by Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, and Fuji. Theta’s Camera Control Module allows control of your camera from up to 150 feet away. Set shutter speed, aperture, ISO – access live preview, and trigger the shutter from your smartphone to capture video or take photos.
The tripod also has two other modules: the optical matrix sensor module, which is the perfect assistant for time-lapse shooting and the Go Live module, that allows to use your DSLR or mirrorless camera for live streaming.
Featuring many of the options photographers expect to get from tripods, from inverting the center column for low level shots to keeping the legs sand free, the tripod now revealed has behind it innumerable hours of designing and redesigning. The team at Benro says that “Theta has been an idea we’ve been dying to bring to fruition since it was first conceived in 2021.”
The Benro Theta tripod is now available through Kickstarter, at an early bird price that starts at $349, 42% off the suggested retail price of $599. Yes, it’s no cheap, but what you get is more than a tripod, is a new way to support your gear, from a smartphone to cameras with long lenses. The Theta and Theta Max are built to last and come with a 6-year warranty.
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