PW

Macro-Rail Benro MP-80

The Benro MP80 is a professional micro adjustment head that provides for geared right-left (X-axis) and front-rear (Y-axis) camera movements. In addition, the entire system can rotate a full 360° on its base, and can thus also fulfill the function of a panoramic head. The macro rail comes with a special 10.5cm (4.1") long arca-swiss compatible quick release plate. The latter has a rippled bar at the bottom that connects with a gear on the head to enable fore-aft movement. The head can be used with any other arca-swiss compatible body or lens plate, but in this case only provides lateral adjustment and panorama rotation (no front-rear adjustment).

The MP80 features no less than five knobs. It has adjustment handles for the right-left and the front-rear movement, as well as locking knobs for those two movements and for the panorama base. The three locking handles have a rubberized surface, while the smaller adjustment knobs have rippled metal grips. While operating all these levers can at first be a bit daunting, they all work nicely and lock tightly, if needed.

Benro MP-80 Specifications

Benro has established itself as a producer of high quality professional tripods and related accessories, and the MP80 lives up to this reputation. The head is CNC-machined from high-strength anodized aluminum alloy materials, which - according to Benro - help to reduce vibration. The core specifications of the MP80 are the following:

  • Material: aluminum alloy;
  • Maximum load: 12kg;
  • Adjustment range along the x-axis: +/- 1.2cm;
  • Adjustment range along the y-axis: +/- 2.65cm;
  • Rotational movement: 360°;
  • Camera attachment screw: 1/4";
  • Tripod mounting hole: UNC3/8";
  • Base diameter: 84mm;
  • Dimensions (including knobs): 137x120x57mm;
  • Weight (including quick release plate): 840g;

The MP80 certainly represents a refreshing alternative to existing precision focus instruments. It is very solidly build, arca-swiss compatible, and more compact than cross-rails from Really Right Stuff, Kirk, or Hejnarphoto. Moreover, it provides panorama rotation as an additional feature and sells on the internet for substantially less than the price of its competitors (click here to see current ebay listings). On the downside, the Benro provides less adjustment in the x- and y-dimension than traditional cross-rails and can be hard to find outside of ebay (question for Benro: why?). Overall, the Benro-rail is a neat, high-quality accessory that can do the job and deserves consideration as a tool for serious macro-photography.

Benro MP80 FAQ

Does the quick release plate that comes with the MP80 have a double dovetail design?

Yes, the upper part of the plate can take an Arca Swiss clamp, such as the RRS B2-Duo or FAS clamps without interfering with the operation of the head.

Do the adjustment knobs for the front-rear and the left-right movement provide the same traction?

No, the fore-aft movement is more direct than the sideways adjustment.

Is it possible to attach an RRS dovetail plate to the bottom of the MP80 for easy mounting/dismounting on a tripod?

No, the base diameter of the MP80 is too large. However, the Wimberley P5 universal camera plate (attached via a bushing) fits the bottom of the macro head nicely.

How does the Benro MP80 differ from the MP90?

The MP90 is a larger version of the micro-adjustment head with dimensions of 147.2x135x57mm and a maximum load capacity of 18kg.

Why do the specifications of the MP80 listed above differ from those in some other product descriptions?

Unfortunately, there is conflicting information available from different sources. Even Benro in its product catalog confuses the MP80 with the MP90. The specifications listed above are derived from actual measurement of the head.

Further Reading

In order to make it possible for interested photographers to see the MP80 in action, Benro uploaded a (soundless) video on YouTube. This clip shows the components and functionality of the macro rail quite nicely. It is just one and a half minutes long, and well worth a look.