I was looking for an inexpensive carbon fiber tripod as a replacement for a light duty Velbon Chaser EFL-4. After some research I came across the Dynatran AT-A105T at Amvona (no longer in business though Henry’s Photo seems to carry them at the moment for $192.00).
The total price, including shipping, for a carbon fiber tripod that could support up to 22 pounds was $114 (Amvona daily deal). I was a little skeptical though I decided to take the risk and order one after reading this review that was posted back in 2007. (Unfortunately one needs to be registered at the forum where the review appears in order to view the author’s image attachments though it’s worth the effort as the photo comparisons of the breakdown of the three tripods are eye-opening.)
The author of the review provided a comparison of the features of the Dynatran to the Benro and Gitzo tripods as shown below:
|Feature/Spec||Dynatron AT-A105T||Benro C328n6||Gitzo GT-3540L|
|W/o Column Ext.||61.5″||62″||59.1″|
|Weight||4.45 lbs.||5 lbs.||4.7 lbs.|
|Max Load||22 lbs.||22 lbs.||39.6 lbs.|
|Upper Leg Diam.||32mm||32mm||32mm|
|Anti Leg Rotation||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Optional Spike Feet||No||Yes||Yes|
|Spike Feet Set In Box||NA||Yes||No|
I received the Dynatran on February 8th and so far I couldn’t be more pleased. The Dynatran offers far more stability, height and load capacity than my older Velbon and does so with only a little over a pound in increased weight.
I would have preferred that the top mounting plate was made of aluminum instead of plastic as shown above though when tightened down to the column (constructed of aluminum, not carbon fiber), it seemed to provide a solid base.The three set screws in the plate used to further secure the head are made of a low quality metal. One was easily damaged (I stripped the allen socket in the screw) as it was difficult to turn. (I ended up replacing the three set screws with M6-1, 10mm metric ones and purchasing a metric allen wrench as well.) I may find someone to machine an aluminum base plate in the future as the plastic one is easily removed.
Update: I found that someone and for the price of one of my prints, I am now a proud owner of a beautifully machined aluminum top plate for my tripod column. At 2 and 3/4 inches in diameter, it is slightly larger than the original and eliminates the separate original plastic column collar by incorporating the collar into its design. If you have an interest in the creator’s other handiwork in machining, you can view his beautifully handcrafted LED flashlights at Photon Fanatic.
Unlike the author in the review article, I found the locking mechanism for the column to be adequate. There can be a bit of column rotation if the lock isn’t tightened sufficiently due to the channel in the column though I didn’t find this to be a major problem. I believe Dynatran changed their design since 2007 as the compression sleeve is now longer and almost an exact copy of the Benro design.
The bubble level was a nice feature along with the hook at the end of the column where added weight can be attached if more stability is needed in windy conditions. The small compass mounted on the same surface as the bubble level will probably end up being a hood ornament.
I found that the G-lock mechanisms on the legs needed to be tightened down firmly to reduce any wobble in the legs, especially at the smallest leg diameter extensions. Again, I didn’t find this to be a problem though they probably don’t operate as precisely or with the same amount of twist as those found on the Gitzo or Benro.
The included carrying case was an added bonus. It is well constructed with ample padding. Some reviewers indicated that the bag had an odor though mine was perfectly fine. However, there was a slight odor coming from the tripod upon removing it from its plastic bag… a bit of an oil smell that seemed to be emanating from the rubber on the leg locks. This dissipated after a day or so.
I wish there was a bit more room in the bag as it seemed to be designed to hold the tripod and a ball head and not the 3-way pan head that I currently have mounted. This might not be a problem in the future as I may replace the pan head with a quality ball head that will support more weight.
Update: I replaced the pan head with a Vanguard SBH-300 ball head and both the head and tripod fit nicely within the tripod bag.
Overall, I feel the Dyntran AT-A105T is a great value at $114. I have never handled the Benro or Gitzo models though I can probably safely assume they are machined to more precise specs and the locking mechanisms most likely have a nicer feel to them though I could put the difference in price to far better use. Even though I can appreciate the craftsmanship of finely made hardware, my tripod just needs to be stable and able to endure medium level usage. The Dynatran appears to be well made and I don‘t foresee any problems down the road.