Vanguard alta pro 263agh review

Build quality

All aspects of the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT tripod legs are well engineered from quality materials, including the robust clip locks for each of the three main leg sections.

The tension of the clip locks is adjustable, although we'd prefer allen key screws to the cross-head screws that are fitted, which are more prone to being rounded off during adjustments.

There's no such problem with the tripod centre column's platform, which features three allen screws for locking the head in place securely.

All clamps and locking screws operate easily and smoothly, enabling swift and precise adjustments. Operating the Vanguard GH-100 pistol grip head is more long-winded, though.

Performance

We're fans of Vanguard tripods, and the Alta Pro 263AT legs lived up to our expectations. It's a sturdy piece of kit that offers excellent stability, even when the bottom leg sections are called into play and the centre column is fully extended.

The centre column's pivot facility is very well implemented and enables a complete 180 degree arc of rotation. It's similar to the Benro A297EX and BH2-M ball head and the Giottos MTL9361B and MH1311652 ball head in this respect, and offers more versatility than the Manfrotto 055XPROB, which has a more limited choice of only vertical or horizontal use.

The only slight niggle is that there's a spring-loaded safety pin that needs to be pushed in to enable pivot mode, which is a bit fiddly. Manfrotto's arrangement of having a push-button on the bottom of the centre column is more elegant, but at least the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT features a useful weight hook in its place.

We were somewhat less impressed by the Vanguard Alta Pro GH-100 pistol grip head that's supplied in the 263AGH kit. It feels less substantial than the tripod, despite having a 6kg maximum load capacity. We had to tighten the adjustable friction screw as tight as possible to avoid heavy cameras slipping in portrait orientation shooting.

Also, while the grip enables a full range of movement, this demands removal and replacement of the quick-release plate at any of four alternative orientations. The plate is square so it can be fitted at 3, 6, 9 or 12 o'clock positions in the head. It doesn't take long to re-orientate the camera, but it makes operation a bit fiddly.

On the plus side, the GH-100 pistol grip head features a separate panning lock complete with a scale on the base marked in five degree increments. There's also a bubble level, although it's mounted beneath the quick-release plate, so you have to remove the camera in order to use it.

Verdict

The Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT legs are a quality item that offers very good stability, limitless versatility and an impressive standard of build quality. We weren't so inspired by the GH-100 pistol grip head, which is a bit fiddly in use and lacks firmness when locked.

We liked

As a set of legs, the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT offers a full range of advanced features with speedy ease of use and high-quality construction.

We disliked

The Vanguard Alta Pro GH-100 pistol grip head feels a bit gimmicky and is quite fiddly in use.

Final verdict

Looking at the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AGH as a whole kit, we'd be more tempted to buy the legs on their own and fit a regular Vanguard SBH-100 ball and socket head, which has a 10kg load rating, adjustable friction damper and separate panning control.