The Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB tripod has been round for a minimum of the final ten years and is well-loved by people who use it. It’s an excellent all-around tripod in case you dabble in a variety of several types of pictures however for astro-specific pictures, its bulk and weight together with a fiddly connector plate make it one thing you may suppose twice about setting out with at night time.
Given that an important concerns when selecting a tripod for night time sky pictures are portability, ease of use and stability, whereas this tripod could also be heavy to hold, it’s fairly darned secure as soon as it’s up. If it would not suit your wants or finances, we have reviewed loads of different fashions in our best tripods guide.
Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB: Key specs
Leg sections: 3
Weight: 5.38 lbs
Max load: 15.4 lbs
Folded top: 28.15 inches
Ball head or pan/tilt head: Ball head
The Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB tripod scores properly on stability, primarily due to its weight. But at over 5 lbs, it’s not one thing you wish to tackle a protracted hike and with a folded-down size of round 30 inches, it wouldn’t match into an airline carry-on case. It does, nonetheless, have one nice function that may simply make it price the additional again ache from lugging it round: its legs splay out from the centre column and the centre column itself may be swivelled to 180º which suggests it may be used very low to the bottom which is nice for very lengthy exposures of star trails.
Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB tripod: Design
- Flexible leg place
- Adjustable heart column
- Too heavy and ponderous for lengthy journey instances
The star attraction of the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB is its multifaceted flexibility and the sheer quantity of positions you will get it into. You can put it up in an ordinary tripod place and get all of the variations the ball head permits, however a neat thumb-press button on the high of the legs lets you splay them from wherever between the usual 25º at its most upright place all the best way to nearly 90º to the centre column.
Not solely that, however the heart column retracts and may be angled at 90º from the splayed legs and means the digital camera may be as little as ten inches from the bottom. The ball head can swivel permitting you to level the digital camera instantly up into the sky and the 2 bubble ranges subsequent to the connector plate imply you may simply test the place with out essentially having to look in the back of your digital camera. This uncommon configuration is ideal for night time sky pictures not least as a result of as soon as the digital camera is decrease to the bottom, there’s far much less danger of a sudden gust of wind affecting your fastidiously timed lengthy publicity.
But this flexibility and stability include a draw back and that’s the load of the tripod. It’s manufactured from aluminum and at simply over 5 lbs, it’s the heaviest tripod we’ve examined to this point. It’s additionally the bulkiest to hold. It comes with a top-opening, hard-wearing nylon bag that has an adjustable shoulder strap however you continue to wouldn’t wish to carry it additional than a couple of minutes stroll from your house or automobile.
The legs comprise three sections that are fixed with clip stoppers somewhat than twisting in place like a lot of the others we’ve examined. This doesn’t appear to impede the steadiness because the stoppers themselves are manufactured from powerful plastic and have sufficient resistance when closing to counsel they gained’t change into free any time quickly. The high a part of the legs have a spongy grip added that’s satisfying to deal with and is designed for gaining an excellent grip in chilly or moist circumstances.
The Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB comes with rubber toes however they will screw off revealing a spike that may allow it to pierce the bottom for additional buy. This makes them straightforward to switch in the event that they put on out. You may purchase greater screw-on spikes and clamps in case you’re going to be utilizing the tripod in softer or rougher terrain.
Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB tripod: Functionality
- Fiddly screw connector plate and connecting mechanism
- Solid and secure as soon as up
- Clip legs straightforward to place up and take down at midnight
With solely three leg sections on every leg, it means the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB solely has two clips to repair into place when organising the tripod. This was very simply achieved at midnight and it was up very quickly however the identical can’t be stated for the connector plate that affixes the digital camera to the tripod. The connector plate makes use of a screw somewhat than a D-ring which suggests you want a coin or a device to tighten and untighten it. Handily, Vanguard has included a bit of equipment that options such a device and it’s equipped hanging with sturdy string from the apex of the legs. Hanging from right here means you gained’t lose it and it’s there whenever you want it however the swinging and the clanking round in opposition to the legs grew to become fairly annoying and through lengthy exposures wasn’t nice for decreasing wobbles.
Ideally, you’d affix your connector plate within the gentle earlier than you head out into the night time after which merely go away it in your digital camera. The equipment comes with a spare plate so it does imply you should use two cameras directly however, in the course of the testing course of, we had a number of tripods to make use of and the dearth of straightforward D-ring disconnection grew to become fairly annoying. Vanguard could have solved among the issues encountered with this screw plate design by supplying the instruments but it surely creates issues in case you then wish to take away the toolkit and retailer it elsewhere. It could be a lot simpler if they’d simply engineered the plate to include a D-ring.
The plate itself ought to simply slide out and in but it surely took some time to get the knack. There’s a knob with a rubber grip that tightens the plate into place and there’s a small, crimson quick-release button that may cease the digital camera from slipping out if the knob turns into barely undone. We did discover, nonetheless, that the colder circumstances affected the properties of the metals used within the plate and holder which meant the mechanism was loads smoother indoors earlier than we took it out than after we have been out at midnight and chilly when it was a a lot tighter match.
The Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB is nice for mirrorless cameras and it’ll additionally fortunately carry a DSLR with an equally hefty lens hooked up. There’s no ‘falling into place’ that you just generally get with heavy lenses on some tripods. Where you affix it’s the place it stays.
Should you purchase the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB tripod?
If you don’t intend to stroll or journey too far along with your tripod, the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB is a superb possibility because it’s properly suited to photographers who don’t journey too removed from dwelling or wander too removed from their automobile. If you take pleasure in different kinds of pictures – particularly macro and close-ups – you’ll discover the a number of choices for positioning the digital camera a very good way of growing your compositional approach.
Features that may put on out – just like the rubber toes and the ball head itself – can simply be eliminated and changed. The worth could be very cheap contemplating the flexibility it incorporates and it’s actually one thing you may put money into realizing it’s constructed from stable, well-engineered parts and designed to final.
If this product isn’t for you
If you’re in search of one thing at an identical worth level however that’s lighter to pack right into a suitcase or for strolling far to your vantage level, the Benro Slim is simply over half the load at 2.2lbs and packs right down to a neat 20 inches.
If it’s the flexibility of the swiveling central column that appeals, the Manfrotto 190 Go! has an identical mechanism and the carbon fiber model is a bit lighter at simply over 4lbs though it’s a extra premium product and has a price ticket to match.
For those that don’t intend to hold their tripod wherever in any respect and don’t thoughts the majority, the Benro Mach3 9X CF Series 3 remains to be light-weight at round 4 lbs however comes with quite a lot of head choices together with tilt heads in addition to ball heads.