Vanguard VEO 3T+ 234CB travel tripod review: incredible versatility

With a rare articulating center column, this is a unique travel companion

Vanguard VEO 3T+ 234CB travel tripod folded on the ground
(Image: © James Abbott)

TechRadar Verdict

The Vanguard VEO 3T+ 234CB is a versatile travel tripod that can meet the needs of professional and enthusiast photographers alike. It’s unique for a travel tripod in that it offers an articulating center column, but this means it’s also one of the heavier options at 4.4lbs / 1.98kg, although this isn’t a problem if you need the stability this provides in a travel tripod, and you may consider it a worthwhile trade-off.


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    Incredibly versatile

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    Articulating center column

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    One leg serves as a monopod


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    Heavy for a travel tripod

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    Average maximum height

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    Long when folded

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Two-minute review

Travel tripods typically follow a fairly standardized set of features, with simplicity, size and weight at the forefront of designers’ minds. The Vanguard VEO 3T+ 234CB travel tripod bucks this trend with a feature that’s much more common in larger full-size tripods – an articulating center column. This undoubtedly makes the tripod stand out from the crowd, but it also carries a compromise or two if this is a feature you need.

Having an articulating center column is far from a negative. It’s a huge positive, because of the versatility it provides for macro photographers and anyone who often shoots subjects in awkward positions, and incorporating it into a travel tripod could be a masterstroke from Vanguard, because you’ll struggle to find another travel tripod like it.

In the past few years or so Vanguard has been innovating with its tripods, and the huge leap in functionality and build quality can't be ignored. The VEO 3T+ 234CB continues this trend, and is essentially a smaller and lighter version of the VEO 3+ 263CB. It’s still a bit of a beast for a travel tripod though – weighing in at 4.4lbs / 1.98kg it's one of the heavier travel models available. The tripod kit costs $330 / £320 / AU$500, making it a mid-range option price-wise.

Vanguard VEO 3T+ 234CB travel tripod carry bag

(Image credit: James Abbott)

The 234CB offers a maximum height of 57.5 inches / 146cm, with a minimum height of ground level thanks to the articulating center column. The maximum height is average for a travel tripod, and will be sufficient in many cases, while the folded length is slightly longer than average at 18.1 inches / 46cm. That may sound long, and combined with the weight could suggest that the 234CB is heavy to carry; but in practice neither spec is an issue, unless you’re looking for an ultra-lightweight travel tripod.

Aside from the obvious advantages of the articulating center column, a feature that’s unique to Vanguard tripods is that the 234CB comes with a VEO+ MA1 Multi-Mount Adaptor. This slides onto the end of the center column, and can accommodate a tripod head or be used to mount accessories such as video monitors, phones, tablets or lighting. It’s a simple yet clever feature that can be extremely useful, and if you need more than one you can purchase additional Multi-Mount Adaptors separately. There’s also a hook that can be screwed into the bottom of the center column, for hanging a photography bag when required to increase stability.

The build quality of the 234CB can’t be faulted, and the twisting leg locks come apart easily for cleaning, which is essential after shooting at the coast, where sand and salt water will damage tripods unless cleaned off. This is a feature that's sometimes overlooked, but it’s especially useful for landscape photographers, who typically need to clean their tripod often to maintain smooth operation and to increase the lifespan of the legs.

The four-section carbon fiber legs are sturdy, and while there’s a small amount of flex at full extension this doesn’t affect stability. Plus, one of the legs can be unscrewed for use as a monopod, which is another handy feature alongside the leg locks and articulating centre column. The kit also comes with spiked feet, which can be swapped with the rubber feet when required.

In operation, I found the 234CB to be smooth and reliable, and the articulating centre column, despite the additional weight it undoubtedly brings, is both useful and surprising for a travel tripod; it adds an extra level of versatility for photographers, thanks to the ability to position the camera practically at ground level – perfect for macro photography.

Vanguard VEO 3T+ 234CB travel tripod ball head

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Like most travel tripods, the 234CB comes with a fairly simple ball head, but the VEO BH-110S Arca Compatible Dual Axis Ball Head does have one advantage over the competition, and that’s the panning mechanisms at the top and the bottom of the head. Being able to pan the top of the head just below where the tripod plate sits is useful, as once the camera is level it can be rotated to adjust composition and remain level. Having the panning mechanism at the bottom of tripod heads is useful, but this doesn’t guarantee that the camera will remain level when rotated unless the legs are 100% level.

If the weight of the 234CB is something that doesn’t bother you, and you feel you'll benefit from all of the other features including the articulating center column, then it’s a great option worth consideration. It’s easily one of the more versatile travel tripods available except for the maximum height. It provides a user experience akin to that of a full-size tripod, and it comes with a well-made carry bag with handles and a shoulder strap, so you can either use this or attach the tripod directly to your backpack.

Should I buy the Vanguard VEO 3T+ 234CB travel tripod? 

Vanguard VEO 3T+ 234CB travel tripod at minimum height

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Buy it if...

You shoot close to the ground
The articulating center column allows shooting at pretty much ground level, which is incredibly useful if you often shoot at low level or you need a tripod that can be used in awkward locations.

You need a heavier and more stable travel tripod
Weight is often seen as a bad thing with tripods, but heavier tripods are naturally much more stable in wind than their lightweight counterparts, which is invaluable in some situations.

You often use a monopod
Thanks to the ability to unscrew one of the legs and use it as a monopod, this tripod is highly versatile if you often need to switch between the two means of support.

Don't buy it if...

You need an ultra-lightweight tripod
At 4.4lbs / 1.98kg the 234CB doesn’t feel particularly heavy when you're carrying it, but it is much heavier than the lightest travel tripods available.

You need a tall travel tripod
With a maximum height of 57.5 inches / 146cm with the center column extended, the 234CB is average height for a travel tripod, but there are taller and lighter options available.

You need a compact tripod
With a folded length of 18.1 inches / 46cm, the 234CB is slightly longer than the majority of travel tripods. It’s still ideal for air travel at this length, but it's something to consider if you would like a more compact travel tripod.

How I tested the Vanguard VEO 3T+ 234CB

The Vanguard VEO 3T+ 234CB was tested over a period of time using several different camera and lens combinations to test how the tripod stood up to standard use in travel-oriented scenarios. Cameras used included a premium compact, an APS-C mirrorless camera, and a full-frame mirrorless camera. The tripod was also carried around with other photographic kit in my f-stop backpack to evaluate performance over longer shoots such as landscapes.

With nearly 30 years of photographic experience and 15 years working as a photography journalist, I’ve been writing about tripods and other photographic accessories for many years. As a professional photographer, I frequently use a range of accessories to enhance my photography and bring my working experience of using these to reviews, gauging how effective particular accessories are from both a professional and an enthusiast point of view.

First reviewed February 2024

James Abbott

James Abbott is a professional photographer and freelance photography journalist. He contributes articles about photography, cameras and drones to a wide range of magazines and websites where he applies a wealth of experience to testing the latest photographic tech. James is also the author of ‘The Digital Darkroom: The Definitive Guide to Photo Editing’.