Andy Westlake tests out a tripod with an ingenious multi-angle centre column

Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 264AT


Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 264AT at a glance


Most tripods currently follow a ‘travel’ pattern, with legs that reverse fold around the head for a more compact size. The Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 264AT, however, is based on a rather different concept. Its legs fold conventionally, but it has a multi-angle centre column that can be tilted off-vertical then rotated freely relative to the legs, allowing the camera to be pointed in almost any direction. This extra flexibility can be really useful in the field, particularly for macro work. All of the centre- column movements are adjusted using large controls with textured rubberised grips.

Vanguard has included lots of other neat features, too. The 4-section aluminium legs have clever twist locks that are restricted to just 35° rotation between loose and tight, which means they’re extremely easy to operate. All three locks on each leg can be undone together in a single movement, making the tripod quick to set up.

Rather than the usual two or three leg angles, Vanguard offers four, of 20°, 40°, 60° and 80°, changed via easy-to-grip sliding locks. Chunky, curved rubber feet provide good ground contact at all leg angles. The lowest position enables practically ground-level shooting when used in concert with the tilting centre column, and crucially you don’t have to disassemble anything, which again means it’s quicker to set up than tripods with split or short centre columns.

A matte grey gunmetal finish and yellow markings provide a utilitarian, almost military aesthetic; there’s no chance of this tripod attracting undue attention, or reflecting a colour cast back into your images. The build quality offers few causes for complaint, the only small disappointment being that the centre column height adjustment screw isn’t captive. The tripod also gets a bit wobbly at its full height, as this requires fully extending the rather long centre column, and I was happier restricting it to 140cm. With the column down, you’ll only get 120cm.


Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 264AT – key features

Vanguard Alta Pro2+ 264AT accessory connector

Accessory connector

The 3/8in Alta Link screw socket allows the attachment of a range of accessories such as video lights or reflectors.

Spirit level

A small bubble level on the ‘spider’ assists with getting the camera level, and includes a suspension loop for hanging a weight to gain extra stability.

Grips

Rubberised grips on two of the legs make the tripod more comfortable to carry, especially in cold weather

Reversible screw

The mounting screw can be reversed to accept heads with either 1/4in or 3/8in sockets.


Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 264AT – our verdict

If you like the sound of a tripod that can hold your camera at angles most others can’t, then the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 264AT is certainly worth a look. It’s well thought-out, quick to use and easily sturdy enough to hold an enthusiast DSLR. It does face strong competition from the Manfrotto 190 Go, which is a bit smaller and lighter, but has a less flexible centre column that can only be set to vertical or horizontal. Even so, it’s a good choice for nature and macro photography.

SCORE: 4.5 out of 5


Matched heads

Vanguard Alta PH-32 head

The tripod comes as a leg-set only, so you’ll also need to buy a head. Vanguard makes two in a matching gunmetal finish, the compact 3-way Alta PH-32 that costs around £75, and the £70 Alta BH-100 ball head.