Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB Tripod Review

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB Tripod Review

My tripod and monopod are some of the most useful tools in my photographic gear case. To find the best tripod for the job, I look at a variety of factors which I will discuss below.

For this this review, I will look at the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB in detail so you can decide if its up to the task!

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB Tripod At a Glance

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Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB Tripod Review


Weight: 5.38 lbs
Collapsed Height: 28.1″
Extended Height: 68.1″
Maximum Load: 15.4 lbs
Head Type: Ball Head
Materials: Aluminium & ABS Plastic
Price: Click here to find latest price


Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB Tripod

When it came to the weight of the Alta Pro 263AB with the ball and socket head, it comes in just over 5 pounds. This puts it in the middle of road in my book, between a heavy duty tripod and a ultra portable compact or travel tripod. If in a case or on a sling or backpack, 5 pounds isn’t really all that much weight.

When I decide I’m carrying a tripod with me, I simply plan for the extra bulk and weight added to my gear. Five pounds is light enough that I can pretty much handle it with one hand if the need arises. While I wouldn’t take this tripod on a long hike anytime soon, it fitted perfectly into my home studio.


Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB Tripod legs and locks

As for the durability of this tripod, I found it was incredibly sturdy due to its aluminum legs/column, magnesium canopy, anti shock ring, quality rubber and ABS plastic used for lever locks and feet. The legs and column were also thick enough to withstand some outdoor abuse without denting, like being dropped onto some rocks due to my not paying attention.

Thankfully, my camera rig was not attached yet. While slightly abused on my clumsy landscape shoot, nothing was dented or broken, barely even scuffed. Even the plastic lever locks handled the constant abuse that I put this tripod through. Typically I opt for twist locks as they are less prone to breaking, but these are incredibly strong!

Substantially robust construction also means I can transport it without undo worry over anything breaking off while bouncing around or vibrating in a Jeep, ATV, or boat. 

Maximum height

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB Tripod central columns

When it came to the heigh of the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB, it is just a hair under six feet, including extending the center column. Without the center column extended, I still found it comfortable to work with. Extended height is only part of the story, though.

This tripod allows quite a bit of versatility in how it gets set up. The center column doesn’t only go up and down, it also has vertical movement. Pull out the column to access the swivel stop and lock system for horizontal movement.

Combined with the multiple angles for independently positioning the legs, this horizontal column feature makes this an ideal tripod for outdoor macrophotography. Also very handy for studio product shots.

When using a gimbal head or a panoramic mount, I prefer to leave the center column in a lower position. The height of the Alta Pro gave me a comfortable working level for these situations. Spending a couple of hours slightly hunched over is actually more bothersome to me than crawling over jagged rocks or dodging over protective wombats.


Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB Tripod ball head

Stability is a major consideration when deciding to use a tripod. This tripod has several features which I found enhanced the stability while in the real world.

Being able to independently adjust the leg angles meant I didn’t have to find a mostly level surface on which to place my rig. Uneven terrain is all over the outdoors, and I’m not only talking about trails and the wilderness.

There are plenty of out of level surfaces in urban settings, as well. A street or sidewalk on a hill comes to mind, but also stairs, bridges, low walls, even certain building features we could take advantage of when setting the tripod for maximum stability.

When using the center column in horizontal configuration, one will need to exercise caution not to place a heavy load too far outside the center of gravity for the entire combination of camera, lens, and tripod. That would create a risk of tipping over.

With the multiple angles available for the center column though, I found ways around even that concern. Especially for close up macro views, I angled the column with the head downwards, taking advantage of the multiple leg angles available. This created a lower, more central center of gravity for the rig, easing tipping worries.

Maximum load capacity

As for the maximum load capacity, it is about 15 pounds. That would be a pretty hefty rig for some photographers. Even my longest lenses on my professional caliber bodies weigh in under that. That would be with the tripod set up in a standard, straightforward configuration.

With the center column used horizontally, I would lower that figure some. It’s not because of any lack of strength, but only because of the tilting/tipping potential I spoke of earlier.

Fifteen pounds doesn’t sound like much, just to say the words, but that would be a lot of camera gear for many of us. In fact, to approach that weight limit for my testing, I had to use my video accessories, the lights, microphone, and auxiliary monitor all together on a bracket.

Other photographers might have heavier bodies and lenses. Super fast ultra telephotos can be quite hefty, as are some medium format outfits.

Tripod head

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB Tripod head

I tested with this tripod is the Vanguard SBH-100 ball and socket head. A medium duty head, it handled everything I used in this test with no problems. The movement of the ball and socket is smooth and it locks securely in place with a slight twist of the knurled knob.

A separate knob controls the panning function, so I could either use the ball and socket for all movements, or lock the camera into a position and pan with the separate control. The panning function has calibrated markings. A well designed quick release system rounds out the appealing features of this most capable photographic tool.

Final Thoughts

For general photography, indoors or out, this is a very nice tripod. For macro or close up photography, I thought the extreme adjustability of the legs and center column make the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB tripod an ideal candidate.