Vanguard Alta Pro 263AGH - £195/$260
The Vanguard Alta Pro 263AGH kit is based on the excellent Velbon 263AT's legs but also includes Vanguard's GH-100 'pistol grip' head. The tripod includes all mod cons, such as three-way multi-angle legs and a pivoting centre column that rotates 180 degrees. There's a simple push-button release for switching between leg angles, and the pivot facility works extremely well.
Maximum height is a useful 175cm and, with its three-section legs, the Vanguard folds down to 73cm for carriage. There's a bubble level on the tripod collar and one on the pistol grip head, though it's placed beneath the quick-release plate, so you have to remove the camera to view it.
The pistol grip feels insubstantial compared with the tripod, despite having a 6kg load capacity. We had to tighten the adjustable friction screw as far as possible to avoid heavy cameras slipping when shooting in portrait orientation.
And while the grip offers a full range of movement, this entails removal and replacement of the quick-release plate at any of four alternative orientations, making operation rather fiddly.