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Old 13th of June 2010 (Sun)   #1
Houston1863
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Default REVIEW - Vanguard Alta Pro 263 AT Professional Tripod

I purchased a 263AT together with a PH32 3-way Pan and Tilt head a week ago having heard good reports about it and believing that at long last, I could gracefully retire my faithful though aged Leitz Tiltall. The Alta Pro had placed first in the TIPA ( Technical Image Press Association ) awards for 2009 in the Best Accessory section so I thought it had to be a fairly good thing.




The Vanguard tipped the scales at just over 2.05kg which wasn't too bad for a set of aluminium legs. Adding the PH32 to it made the total weight a very manageable 2.47kg or 5.44 lbs. With the PH32 but without raising the central column, the 263AT gave me a working height of around 57inches.




Vanguard are very keen to promote their key features of the Alta Pro series, being the Multi-Angle-Central-Column (MACC) which allows the user to position the hexagonal central column at ANY angle from 0 to 130 degrees without the need to remove it from the tripod, while also allowing it to rotate a full 360 degrees.




Then there is the Instant-Swivel-Stop-and-Lock (ISSL) mechanism which allows photographers to securely reposition the central column in one simple movement. You release the central column by a twist of the locking lever on the left of the first picture below, slide the column upwards, depressing the brass button and then locking the lever again. Releasing the ' orange ' switch allows the user to tilt the central column to a desired position.




The Alta Pro has a low minimum height which though is not unique is nevertheless a bonus for macro work




The PH32's ergonomically-styled levers are a pleasure to use. Three bubble levels assists in the task of accurate positioning though I found the grid screen of the 5D2 in live view rather more accurate.

Vanguard includes a ballast bag which they call a stone bag along with an unpadded carry case in the asking price which at around GBP120 discounted pitches the 263AT at the 055XProB market. Along with the PH32 head, I paid GBP175. Adorama's very nice US prices will set you back a mere $200.

Other neat touches include a rubber shock absorber located below the platform and spiked feet.



A pretty good deal one would say, so what's wrong with the Alta Pro, you may be tempted to ask?

Well the head, indeed any head, is secured to the platform by three grub screws which protrude into the outer edge of the base of the head, boring merrily into the metal .....




Vanguard have accepted this as being a design fault and as I write this, I understand that they have a redesign in the pipeline. For a potential buyer, this issue is covered by Vanguard's limited lifetime warranty so if down the line you could request an exchange of the redesigned part which could be the platform and central column or the head. I would have thought it would be less costly for Vanguard to redesign and replace the central column.

When I was taking pictures of the tripod earlier today I also noticed that to mount a 70-200 on a 5D2 on the PH32 head, I had to remove the camera's BG-E6 battery grip because the locking lever of the QR plate was in the way of the grip itself hence as the picture here shows, I mounted the 5D2/70-200 combination without the grip.





If I can mount the above without the need to use the tripod ring on the lens then all is well. Otherwise I am considering going for the 055CXPro3 with an 808 RC4. It's more money though....



Y'all take care now

H
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Old 13th of June 2010 (Sun)   #2
huntersdad
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Default Re: REVIEW - Vanguard Alta Pro 263 AT Professional Tripod

I've got the Vanguard Trekker series with the b-300. I have the same problen mounting my 50d with grip and 70-200. I couldn't get a good look at your head but I've found that if I turn the mounting plate so that the clamp goes in in the "forward" position (foot opening faces you), I don't have to take the grip off.
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Old 14th of June 2010 (Mon)   #3
Houston1863
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Default Re: REVIEW - Vanguard Alta Pro 263 AT Professional Tripod

Quote:
Originally Posted by huntersdad View Post
I've got the Vanguard Trekker series with the b-300. I have the same problen mounting my 50d with grip and 70-200. I couldn't get a good look at your head but I've found that if I turn the mounting plate so that the clamp goes in in the "forward" position (foot opening faces you), I don't have to take the grip off.

Is that a ballhead friend?

On a pan and tilt, there is only one way to mount the plate. Perhaps the picture below which shows the lever in the closed position may offer a better view.

When I pull the lever out to release the plate, it stays in the 'out' position which then gets in the way of the grip. I can use the plate under the grip instead of the tripod ring but I just checked with Canon and they definitely recommend using the tripod ring.





The lever controlling the mounting plate on a Manfrotto 808-RC4 is on the left side of the plate as I understand. It therefore stays out of the way of the grip. I'm considering using the Vanguard legs with the Manfrotto head. January and as it appears, June are my two most expensive months of the year


Thanks for your help


All my best



H
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Last edited by Houston1863 : 14th of June 2010 (Mon) at 04:29.
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Old 14th of June 2010 (Mon)   #4
huntersdad
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Default Re: REVIEW - Vanguard Alta Pro 263 AT Professional Tripod

Yes, it's a ballhead. I was thinking the mounting was different on what you had. The other thing you could try, if comfortable, is to mount the plate onto the grip as opposed to the lense. Just another thought.

I've been very pleased with my Vanguard.
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Old 14th of June 2010 (Mon)   #5
Houston1863
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Default Re: REVIEW - Vanguard Alta Pro 263 AT Professional Tripod

Thanks again

Yes I can see why you would be very pleased with your Vanguard. Under other circumstances I would be too. Perhaps I should post in the tripod regrets thread too

I did check with Canon and they strongly recommend that I secure the camera n lens via the tripod ring mount. So today I advised my dealer I would be sending back the PH32 head. Such a pity - it really looks the part.

I have ordered a Giottos MH 5001 which has the locking lever on the RHS and 2 useful bubble levels. WIth the locking lever out of the way, I think my problems are solved. The Giottos was 0.6kg which is a lot more pleasant to haul than the 1.4kg Manfrotto 808. I can live fairly happily with the Vanguard legs.


Cheers friend



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Old 15th of December 2010 (Wed)   #6
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Default Re: REVIEW - Vanguard Alta Pro 263 AT Professional Tripod

How about an update?
I'm having trouble deciding between this, and the 055xprob... this tripod is lighter, folds shorter, but is somewhere between the 190 and 055 in height. Since the price difference is pretty much non existent, I'm considering this one over the 055 due to size and weight. And it comes with a carry case
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Old 26th of January 2011 (Wed)   #7
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Default Re: REVIEW - Vanguard Alta Pro 263 AT Professional Tripod

I just received mine in the mail today (still waiting for the ballhead, which I ordered separately). Played with it a little at lunch, and it seems to be a real solid tripod (...compared to my previous cheapo alum & plastic one, haha). It seems to operate pretty smoothly and solidly. Can't wait to give it some use once the head is in.
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Old 27th of January 2011 (Thu)   #8
Houston1863
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Default Re: REVIEW - Vanguard Alta Pro 263 AT Professional Tripod

SInce MrDemin and DM have revived my original thread I'll update it by saying that both the Giottos MH3001 Pan n Tilt and the MH1302-652 Ballhead sit very well on the Vanguard. I don't even need to tighten the little grub screws. Talk about perfect fit.

The Giottos Ballhead is excellent with my Manfrotto Neotec monopod too and it appears to be a happy ending all round.


Hope you guys enjoy yours


Cheers



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Old 23rd of April 2011 (Sat)   #9
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Default Re: REVIEW - Vanguard Alta Pro 263 AT Professional Tripod

To the OP , do you know if there is a big difference between this Alta Pro 263AT and the 264AT ?? I mean the 264 is $10.00 more expensive , but I just need to make sure which one I get , Thank YOU
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Old 10th of May 2011 (Tue)   #10
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Default Re: REVIEW - Vanguard Alta Pro 263 AT Professional Tripod

Quote:
Originally Posted by LokoTripper View Post
To the OP , do you know if there is a big difference between this Alta Pro 263AT and the 264AT ?? I mean the 264 is $10.00 more expensive , but I just need to make sure which one I get , Thank YOU
There are no "big differences" between the two (though,there are a few details that'll make your decision,depending on what are you aiming for):
The 263 is a three-segment leg,a height of 1255mm,with the column 1650mm,min.height (folded) 630mm,weight 2kg.
The 264 is a four-segment leg,has a height of 1280mm,with the column 1550mm,min.height (folded) 535mm,weight 2.1kg.
All other parameters are the same (load capacity,etc).
HTH!
Regards,
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Old 13th of September 2012 (Thu)   #11
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Default Re: REVIEW - Vanguard Alta Pro 263 AT Professional Tripod

Hi guys , iam very very new to photography .. at present iam trying to get neat macro photos .. but i do have shaky hands and all photos come blurred. which tripod shd i get ? as its one time investment. these are the gears i have .. canon 1000d ,18-55mm,55-250mm,100mm f2.8macro , 100-400mm L lens (heaviest) .. so which tripod shd i prefer ?
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