With Benro making some of the best tripods and tripod heads going there was a whole bunch of hype based around the release of their very first motorized gimbal stabilizer the Benro Reddog R1 with the community has some very high expectations for the product. The Reddog R1 has been available on the market for around a year now and we have noticed more and more people reaching out about and asking for a dedicated Benro Reddog R1 review.
Our regular readers may have noticed that we never recommend the Reddog R1 in any of our posts or Q&A recommendations and for good reason. As much as we love the tripod range and tripod heads from Benro, when it comes to the Reddog R1 pretty much everything that could have gone wrong, has gone wrong and the gimbal not only underperforms but is also massively overpriced for what you are actually getting.
Its almost as if Benro has not even looked at what their competitors are doing with their latest generations of gimbals and just tried to build the Reddog R1 to compete with an old Zhiyun Crane they found from five years back and not even made a serious effort to outperform it. We would not recommend that you add the Reddog R1 to your collection of camera accessories as there are MUCH better options available that blow the R1 out the water and are also cheaper but over $100 in some cases!
If you are looking for a gimbal for a point and shoot camera like a Canon G7X or Sony RX100 then go with the Feiyutech G6 Plus, it is pretty much the undisputed king of the point and shoot gimbal weight class and depending on retailer is around $130 cheaper than the Reddog R1. If you are in the market for a gimbal for a mirrorless camera then go with the Zhiyun Weebill S as it is one of the best gimbals ever made and makes the Reddog R1 look like a bad April fools joke in comparison.
Now, we are still going to be going over our full review of the Reddog R1 below to go into why we feel the way we do about the gimbal and to try and save any of our readers who are still seriously considering adding it to their collection of camera accessories. That said though, before getting into the review we just want to stress that we are specifically talking about the Reddog R1 and really do feel that the Benro tripod range is one of the best going and can’t believe how much has gone wrong with their first motorized gimbal release.
We just wanted to clearly state that so none of our readers think that we are being overly harsh to the gimbal or have an issue with the Benro brand. We are simply sharing the truth and trying to protect our readers from wasting their money on a gimbal that should never have made it out of initial testing.
Performance And Functionality
If you are a point and shoot camera owner then chances are your camera rig will come in with a total payload weight of around one pound up to around 1.5 pounds. With a maximum load capacity of 1.76 pounds and a price tag that is around $130 cheaper than the Reddog R1 the Feiyutech G6 Plus blows it out of the water for the point and shoot camera gimbal weight class.
Additionally, the Feiyutech G6 Plus has managed to earn itself one of the best reputations going right now and as it was specifically designed and built to dominate the point and shoot market it is smaller and lighter than the Benro Reddog R1 too. With the R1 having to have larger gimbal motors to support up to 2.9 pounds of payload weight it has to be larger and in our opinion, is just too bulky for your average vlogger who will be looking for a gimbal for their point and shoot camera.
Next up we have the mirrorless camera weight class cameras like the Sony a6000 and the rest of the Sony Alpha range. Although technically, on paper the Benro Reddog R1 is able to support the lighter and mid-ranged mirrorless camera setups, it offers little to nothing in the way of future-proofing while also having a massive price tag for the inconvenience of zero future-proofing.
If you are in the market for a mirrorless camera gimbal then ideally you will be wanting a maximum load capacity of around four pounds minimum due to effective load capacity restrictions anyway. Our recommendation would be to go with either the Zhiyun Weebill S that is around $40 more than the Reddog R1 but totally blows it out of the water or its predacessor, the Zhiyun Weebill Lab that is around $40 cheaper than the Reddog R1.
Both of these Zhiyun put the Benro Reddog R1 to shame with both gimbals offering some of the best stabilizing technology available at the time of writing as well as a maximum load capacity of over 6.5 pounds of camera payload weight. This offers all the future protection that you could need for any potential future camera accessory updates or even an upgrade to a DSLR camera too.
We have seen reports from people saying it has taken as long as five hours for them to recharge the battery of the Reddog R1 whereas the Zhiyun Weebill S can be recharged back to full in around three hours while also having a longer battery life. This results in around two and a half hours of usable power for each hour the Reddog R1 is charging and around four and a half hours of power for each hour the Weebill S is charging.
The detection and correction system used on the Benro Reddog R1 is nowhere near up to standard for a modern gimbal stabilizer either. The gimbal sensors can struggle to detect movement in the gimbal head even with a light camera rig mounted to it while also randomly processing movement while completely stationary and in standby mode.
This can result in some very shaky video footage that multiple videographers and vloggers who made the mistake of purchasing the Reddog R1 have noticed and reported. Another issue is that the gimbal motors on the R1 are bulky and put out much less power than what compeating modern gimbals are able to offer too causing the gimbal to drop even more points.
At the time of writing, we would say that the Zhiyun Weebill S is the best mirrorless camera gimbal on the market and probably the best gimbal ever made. Behind that we would say that the Moza Aircross 2 comes in just behind the Weebill S and then the DJI Ronin SC coming in a fair bit behind the Weebill S and Aircross 2.
All three of those gimbals have much better detection and correction of movement than the Reddog R1 and even the Ronin SC that comes in at third place totally blows the Reddog R1 out the water with ease. We usually try to always include at least some positives for the performance of a gimbal that we review no matter how small but we just can’t find any with the Reddog R1.
User Interface And Control System
There is a reason that the industry standard is to put the focus wheel on the left-hand side of the control panel and it is due to between seventy and ninety percent of people being right-handed. This allows the majority of people to hold a gimbal with their dominant hand to support its weight while using their left (none dominant hand) to quickly and easily reach up and adjust the manual focus wheel as required without having to shift your gimbals position.
With Benro choosing to position the focus wheel to the rear of the control panel you either have to elevate the gimbal for easy access to it changing the camera’s position or warp your body into an uncomfortable shape to be able to reach it and accurately turn it. Either method is going to cause small issues for you when you can just go with a compeating gimbal like the Feiyutech G6 Plus or Zhiyun Weebill S and not have the issue at all.
Next up we have the actual buttons on the control pad of the Benro Reddog R1, not only are some of the buttons a nightmare to actually register depressions but the actual mode button has a tendency to randomly stick too. This can be a total nightmare if you are in the middle of a videography session and need to switch gimbal modes but your mode button has stuck in place.
Another thing that we have seen people reporting is that the actual navigation on the interface is a nightmare with people having to post online asking for assistance on basic things like how to operate the motion timelapse feature due to not being able to workout it. The fact that the user manual provided with the Benro Reddog R1 offers little to no assistance also makes the issue worse too.
Build Quality And Design
We fully expect DJI and Moza to use similar designs in their next gimbal releases to stay competitive but the Benro Reddog R1 follows the traditional handheld gimbal design that we expect to be left behind. Now, in all fairness to Benro, the first Weebill range gimbal with this new design would not have been released back when they were initially designing the Reddog R1 but with so many other issues holding the gimbal back, a dated design is not going to help things.
Although the gimbal is pretty robust, it is also pretty heavy in an age where leading gimbal brands are doing everything they can to keep their gimbals as light as possible while offering the best performance possible to make their stabilizers easy to pack for air travel. On top of this, the size and weight of the Reddog R1 are huge considering that it can only support a maximum load capacity of 2.9 pounds of payload weight too.
The actual handle on the gimbal is pretty uncomfortable too making the situation even worse. Videographers and vloggers may be gripping the handle grip on their gimbal for long periods of time so you want something comfortable that will help prevent aches and cramps in your hand for those longer sessions.
That brings us to the end of our Benro Reddog R1 review and as we said back at the start of the review, we would NOT recommend you add this gimbal to your collection of camera accessories. There are much better options available that are not only cheaper than the Reddog R1 but also provide superior image stabilization and performance to it too.
If you are using a point and shoot camera then take the Feiyutech G6 Plus or if you are using a mirrorless camera or lightweight DSLR go with the Zhiyun Weebill S or even the Moza Aircross 2 over the Benro Reddog R1 any day of the week.