Vanguard makes good tripods. That makes this easy. They fill a particular niche in the entry-level to intermediate-priced tripod class.
Their latest effort is the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB 100 Tripod
*BH-100 Ball Head - 360° panning, friction control, 2 bubble levels, and quick release Arca-type system
*Unique Perspective - MACC (Multi-Angle Center Column) for limitless shooting angles and Never waver - firm hexagonal center column
*3 section legs with 4 position angles - 20°, 40°, 60°, 80° and Rock solid positioning - unique “locked” to “unlocked” twist-lock system
*canopy suspension loop for counterbalance weight and Alta Link - 3/8 thread bonus connection for any accessory: reflector, articulated or flexible arms, etc.
*26mm, 3 section aluminum legs. Folded height: 29". Extended height: 68.2", Weight: 5 pounds. Max. load capacity: 15.4 pounds
At $229.99 this is a bargain-priced tripod (yes I know - many of you think that’s expensive but in today’s world where $1200+ tripods abound - not really) that delivers good value for the money. Note that it is aluminum. That means it is heavier than most of the carbon-fibre tripods in this class and presumably the aluminum structure is what keeps the price down. (Good carbon fiber is expensive.)
This tripod uses simple and intuitive “twist and lock” positioning at any angle of 15° steps. The quarter-turn twist locks seem very well made and while this can be a failure point in some tripods, I don’t think that will be the case here. And inn case you're wondering, the moving center column feature is not a gimmick. It allows this tripod to be used for macro, product, low-angle work as well as traditional tripod work. I do have some concerns that the tripod could very easily be overloaded when this feature is employed so for that reason my recommendation to buy it will come with one big caveat. Do not believe the 15.4 pound carrying capacity. My general rule of thumb is to halve that figure (from any tripod maker) and you’ll be in the ballpark. Here I am going to say cut that figure by 60% if you plan to use the center column for off axis work.
Mirrorless shooters should be fine with this setup. If I were using a DSLR I might be tempted to go up one step in the Vanguard product line to stay affordable, yet a tad more sturdy.
As with all the Vanguard products I have tested, this one offers superb build quality and great design. It has some nice features that round out its usefulness and these are the fitted bubble level and dedicated suspension loop to ensure perfect position and additional stability by hanging counterweight or bags; non-slip, all-weather TPU grips on 2 legs; angled rubber feet (You can buy the ALTA SF spiked feet if you need them), and a tripod carrying bag bag. The ALTA BH-100 bullhead isn’t going to compete with something from Really Right Stuff or Indoro, but at this price point it too offers nice features like durable aircraft aluminum housing, easy-to-grip large lever lock, ergonomic friction control, precision lock, independent panning lock, two bubble levels for precise 90° angle in just one second & accurate 360° panoramic photography or videography adjustments, and universal Arca-type quick release system.
You can never have too many tripods. For those of you starting out and looking at your first tripod (or maybe a backup tripod) and who use lighter-weight gear (mirrorless, Micro-Four-Thirds, etc.) this is a very solid choice. I especially like the features you get for this price and think you could easily spend more for less. Remember my HIGHLY RECOMMENDED conclusion comes with the caveat that this tripod shouldn’t be counted on to bear much more than six or seven pounds when you extend the center column off axis.
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