What kind of sorcery is this?
Benro Theta — Photo credit: Benro

What kind of sorcery is this?

In case you haven't noticed, Benro has introduced (via a new Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign) a self-leveling travel tripod named "Theta". Push a button, and the tripod automatically adjusts the length of each leg to level a camera with the horizon (within 0.1 degrees of accuracy, according to Benro). An idea so brilliant and obvious it makes you wonder why it doesn't exist already! I could see this being super helpful on uneven, outdoor terrains where leveling tripods is a constant hassle in every photo and video.

Interestingly, Benro didn't stop with automatic leveling. Theta also includes additional battery powered smart modules including a timelapse accessory, remote camera control (shown below), and live video streaming.

I love it when companies push the envelope and disrupt preconceived ideas in established products. Reminds me of Edwin Land and the Polaroid camera, which was born because Land's daughter (the story goes) asked why she couldn't see photos immediately after they were taken. Land could have said "because that's how cameras work", but he didn't. It would appear Benro asked a similar question about tripods, and has arrived at a potentially groundbreaking solution.

As fantastic as Theta sounds on paper and appears in video, I am a little skeptical, for I could see feeling like the tripod's leveling motor is fighting against me when making small adjustments to camera placement and composition. There's also the question of how durable the motors are, how it performs in cold weather, and what happens if the legs get stuck.

But hey, there's only one way to find out! I backed the campaign (got the taller Max model) and hope to get the tripod sooner rather than later for testing and review.

Benro is running some nice early bird discounts on Theta and its smart accessories, so check out the Theta crowd-funding campaign by clicking the button below to learn more.

PolarPro Boreal 50L backpack review

In case you missed it, earlier this week I reviewed PolarPro's new Boreal 50L camera backpack. Put simply, it's a beautiful bag with loads of style, wrapped in a semi-gloss DWR coated 600D nylon fabric that's thicker and more durable than most camera bags. It looks and feels like the bag you'd get if an outdoor equipment company hired a black-clad fashion designer from Berlin.

But Boreal is more than just a good looking bag. Boreal can also carry loads of camera gear, with nearly 2000 cubic inches of interior space, yet remains carry-on compatible when its expandable roll-top is collapsed (which reduces the bag from 50 to 35 liters). Speaking of the roll-top, I love being able to carry extra items like jackets, hats, food, or other items outside of the interior camera storage area.

All that said, Boreal isn't perfect. There are two areas where I feel the bag could be improved, which I explain in my video above and written review.

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