A few weeks ago Alan and I were very kindly asked by Vanguard UK if we'd like to choose a tripod from their new Pro 2+ range and do a review for them. Both of us being users of the Vanguard 263 tripod we jumped at the opportunity as you can imagine! We had a good look through the catalogue at what was on offer and made our choices. Al opted for the Alta Pro 2+ 263CT model and myself the Alta Pro 2+ 264CT and we took them out for a thorough workout on both Dartmoor and the Devon coast. Alan's review can be found on his website and here's my honest take on how I found the Alta Pro 2+ 264CT tripod.
Very quick and easy set up
Multi angle hexagonal center column
Four section legs with angles of 20°, 40°, 60° and 80° for positioning
Made of carbon fibre
Twist lock system on the legs
Built on bubble for precise levelling
Work load of up to 7kgs
An extra 3/8 accessory thread
TPU non slip grips on two of the legs
Angled rubber feet
Roll top fastening carry bag with shoulder strap
A very sleek smart looking tripod that's extremely easy on the eye. Lightweight and balanced when in the hand with no risk of slipping due to the grips on two of the legs. Beautifully quick and easy to extend the legs with the twist lock system, and lovely grips on the centre column buttons making it easy and comfortable to move them about. The centre column is smooth to extend and simply stops when it's reached full extension, and flipping over the column is a cinch with the easy to use button on the side and it glides into position wonderfully. First impressions........a very well thought out and good looking tripod.
Performance Out In The Field
So the first outing was a very gentle one to Lustleigh Woods and Hisley Bridge on Dartmoor. It was a lovely calm day and the perfect opportunity to try and get some low level water shots in this area. The initial set up of the tripod was really nice and easy taking no time at all, and manoeuvrability of the centre column was smooth and simple enabling me to get my camera into the right position to shoot towards the bridge and across the water. I had to splay the legs in order to balance the tripod correctly and this was absolutely no issue, the tripod sat nice and securely in position. At no time did I feel that my camera was at risk and I happily shot away. I continued to move around the area with the tripod trying it out at lots of different angles for different shots and came away very happy with how it functioned and the ease of use too.
Another outing for the 264CT was close to Merrivale on Dartmoor. We walked out to a rocky outcrop to set up for sunset which turned out to be quite chilly and breezy. Once again the tripod was lovely and easy to set up, however I found that even when the legs were fully extended it really didn't have a wide enough footprint for it to feel secure in the breeze, I wasn’t overly confident about walking away from it and leaving it on its own with my camera attached. Even though my 263AB only has an extra five degrees on the initial footprint before opening wider it makes a lot of difference to stability. There was another little matter of the feet too. Now although the design looks very good, they're non slip and also performed well in previous circumstances, on the granite rocks that I was working on they didn't feel so secure, and on a couple of occasions they did move jolting my equipment. At the time I wasn’t taking a shot so this didn't really matter, but if I had have been it would've resulted in a blurry image which would've been somewhat disappointing. These matters aside though it worked sufficiently well enough for me to be able to come away with some decent images over the course of the evening, I just had to keep my eye on it a little bit.
For another test it was time for some coastal shooting, destination of choice Wembury, Devon. Coastal being very demanding on equipment with the salt in the air, stiff sea winds, sharp rocky terrain and tiny grains of sand ready to cause havoc. I chose my spot on the rocks quite close to the waters edge but far enough away to be safe from splashes and being caught by the waves. Out came the equipment and I began to set up. The rocks at Wembury are really very angular and are quite tricky to position your gear on, so making use of the variable leg angles was a must and the twist and lock leg system was very useful enabling me to get into and change positions really very quickly in between wave sets. I did have a few fumbles with the adjustment buttons for the angle settings on the legs, and once again the rubber shoes on the tripod weren't as grippy as I’d have possibly liked them to be, but overall the tripod scored well on ease of set up, use and manoeuvrability. There was one thing that really bothered me throughout the shoot here at Wembury unfortunately, and that was vibration through the tripod legs. It seems that although this time stability wasn’t such an issue, probably due to the legs being all splayed out here there and everywhere, in the strong wind the tripod vibrated a lot. I actually had to hold on to it and push it downward in order to get rid of some of that vibration so that I could take my shots. This was a shame as I was really hoping that it would be sturdy in tougher situations. Having said that the issue was pretty much overcome and I did come away with what I wanted by the end of the shoot.
The Carry Bag
The bag….......the bag is great but please Vanguard could you supply a slightly larger one? I only just managed to fit the tripod with my ball head on in it. I imagine if someone is using a bigger tripod head it might be a bit of a squeeze. Just a minor thing though ;)
How would I sum up the Alta Pro 2+ 264CT tripod? Despite having a few issues whilst using this tripod it really is overall a very good piece of equipment. I think as a travel tripod it’s absolutely perfect and I would highly recommend it, but as a heavy weather tripod I would suggest maybe something a little sturdier. There are features on the Pro 2+ 264CT which I absolutely love like the design of the buttons. They’re so easy to use, are very smooth, and have great grip especially with cold hands. The workings of the central column are a joy and it just seems to glide into position, and the twist lock system on the legs…..brilliant, quick, easy, and simple. Overall this tripod really has been enjoyable to use and if you’re looking for a decently priced carbon fibre tripod, want a well built piece of equipment that is easy to carry, very quick and easy to set up, and extremely smooth to use in relatively fair weather then I would certainly recommend the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 264CT.