Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT - £125/$150
A big step up from the smaller Vanguard Alta+ 203AP, the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT is a full-sized tripod and, despite only weighing an extra 600g, has a much greater 7kg maximum load rating.
It's also packed with advanced features. A similar push-button mechanism enables easy selection of three leg angles, and the legs themselves are a lot chunkier and more heavy-duty.
Like the Benro FlexPod A297EX, Benro FlexPod C297EX and the Giottos MTL9361B, a simple yet easily operated pivot system gives you the option to swing the centre column through 180 degrees in the vertical plane, in small increments, as well as rotating 360 degrees horizontally.
A sprung weight hook in the bottom of the centre column retracts when you don't need to use it, and a bubble level on the platform aids set up on uneven ground. Tools are provided for fitting and removing tripod heads, as well as for making adjustments to the clamps and fasteners.
The leg sections are a little on the stiff side, and don't extend merely by the power of gravity like they do on most Manfrotto tripods. However, their action is clean and smooth, without any jerkiness or annoying sticking points.
Sturdiness is equal to the best-performing tripods on test, but the asking price is higher than the similarly proficient Benro A297EX and Giottos MTL9361B, so it's not quite such good value for money.