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Weedy Sep 13, 2011 5:14 PM

VANGUARD Tripods????
HAs anyone had any experience with Vanguard tripods?? I was looking at this one Vanguard Alta 283CP ( the link to the the website is: ). There is dang many of them and the cost is from way low to thru the roof. I want a decent one, but I do not need to morgage the house for it! I am always over buying and for once I am trying to get something for what I need, not over doing it.
Is one better than the next (fluid pan head over ball heads), I under stand the leg construction vrs weight etc.... But I am NOT a profeshional (can't spell either.... hahaha), just want to get one that will work for larger lens etc.
Lastly, I am going to be buying a lens that has the tripod mount on it. Will I need any special kind of mount that goes on it to the tripod head??
As always, Thank You for ya'lls help and look forward to your expert responses!!


mtngal Sep 13, 2011 6:36 PM

I highly recommend going to a camera store that carries a few tripods and spending some time with them. As a rule of thumb, you can get cheap tripods, you can get light-weight tripods and you can get sturdy tripods. But you can only get 2 out of 3, so choose which area you can compromise (weight, stability, cost).

There's a number of things to consider when buying a tripod - one that's often overlooked is focal length. The longer the lens, the more it's susceptible to shake so while you might be able to get away with a less sturdy tripod for a short lens, you might not be able to do the same thing with a long lens. So a long lens needs a sturdier tripod. Since you are talking about buying a lens with a tripod mount, I suspect you might need a sturdier tripod than what the weight capacity is.

Heads are a personal thing - I personally don't like pan/tilt heads, I find them fussy to get the way I want, and usually need to adjust the same control a couple of times as I adjust the other directions. A good ball head is much faster for me and easier to adjust (notice I put in the word "good" - a cheap ball head will be even more frustrating and won't last very long). Other people hate even good ball heads. My ballhead only has one drop, I rather wish it had two (but I figured that since I was getting an L-Bracket for the camera, I could get away with just the one. It still would be nice to have a second one though).

I notice that the tripod you linked to has twist leg locks. That's what I prefer but there are others who prefer flip leg locks. I tried a Manfrotto with flip locks and kept pinching my thumb, wouldn't have realized that if I hadn't tried it in the store. Also, the once I took an old Velbon video tripod out to shoot wildflowers I kept catching plants in the flip leg locks.

On the other hand, I'm not familiar with the Vanguard and don't know if the leg sections are free. When I was looking I checked out one with twist locks I found myself almost dropping one section as it came free of the tripod - I'm enough of a klutz that I could see me doing the same thing hiking and dropping one off some cliff. My Gitzo has twist leg locks but the sections don't come free of the tripod itself.

Going back to your tripod mount lens - if you get a head with its own quick release system you might have to screw the plate onto whatever you are using - the lens or the camera. If you buy a head that has a more generic type system, you can buy plates for both the camera and the lens, then you can mount whichever without trying to unscrew the plate every time you switch your set-up. But that's added expense.

There are a number of other things that might or might not be important/useful to your tripod needs (like can you reverse or remove the center column, useful if you shoot things low to the ground).

Weedy Sep 14, 2011 6:52 AM

Thanks for your reply, it was very informative and lots of key info. One very big problem that I have, ther is NO camera stores with in 150-175 miles from where I live. So, the down fall is seeking opinions via the internet, I guess I could see if there are any camera clubs locally and ask them as well (never thought about that..).
I have a very big fear of the twist lock legs, for reasons you described etc. The sunpac tripod that I have has a "pan/tilt" head which I like, but is built on the extreme cheap side and is very heavy!
Shooting low to the ground is not something I think I will be doing, so the center column being removed is not important to me as much as the "Head" questions! You mentioned that your ball head only has "One Drop", what do you mean, I am not following you on this part? As I stated in my first post, Thank you for your responce, I was hoping to get his nailed down soon, but I think it will take some more looking into! I hope you have a great day and look forward to your responce.


mtngal Sep 14, 2011 3:17 PM

I discovered that the few pictures I took of my tripod head doesn't show the drop. But this one comes the closest to being what I want to explain.

As you'll notice, the ball has to be somewhat encased in an outer covering for stability sake. They usually provide one or two slots that the camera can drop into, so that you can shoot vertically or with the camera pointed down more. In the picture the slot is on the opposite side from the camera - if you look closely at the housing along the top, you can see the opening for the one drop on the other side of the ball. The problem with that is that you have to be able to rotate the whole head to make sure the drop is properly located for your shot. As you can see, this ballhead has a separate panning control so you can do it without having to relocated the tripod itself.

Another thing you can see in this photo is the advantage of getting an L-bracket for your camera, and why only having one drop is more of an occasional annoyance rather than a significant issue. I can quickly change to shooting vertical without touching the tripod set-up, just by changing the side the camera is mounted on.

Does this make sense? If you are happy with the way your pan/tilt head works, perhaps you'll want to stick with one, rather than switch to a ball head. As I indicated, which one you choose depends more on personal choice than one being inherently better (pan/tilt is much better for video I think, though having a ball head with separate panning controls does a lot to compensate for the other's advantage).

shoturtle Sep 14, 2011 3:39 PM

As a tripod goes, the vanguard ones are very good. But CF tripods are pretty pricey still. I do prefer a ball head vs a pan head that is on the vanguard. I would go with just getting CF legs, and buying a good ball head for it. It also makes it more compact.

I would look at weather you prefer a twist lock or a tab lock for the legs. I personally like the tab locks. I have at times forgotten to tighten up the twist locks enough and the tripod sag. But everyone has their own preference.

interested_observer Sep 16, 2011 11:39 AM


Just a couple of items that may help. Carbon Fiber as a material, is more stiff than aluminum. By the virtue of being stiffer, it transmits or conducts vibrations better than aluminum. The best material is wood in terms of dampening or reducing vibrations. However, weight is a major consideration.

The other item is, what are you going to use the tripod for? This may sound like a stupid question, but it boils down to two uses, and the type of head does affect all of this. Single shots and / or multiple shots. What I mean by this is how are you intending to level the tripod. Let me explain.
  • Single shots - you set it up, level everything - take the shot, and then you are done.
  • Multiple shots - you set it up, level everything (and its dependent on how you level) - take the shot, and then expecting to pan to the next adjoining shot for something like a panoramic, you are either panning up or down hill - i.e., you were level for the first shot but not necessarily level for subsequent shots.
If you level the tripod then everything will be level - tripod base, head, top of the head and camera. Leveling the tripod - by adjusting all the legs individually can be tedious. Folks just usually get it close and then level at the head for the shot. This is fine if its just a single shot. However, if they plan then the next shot is usually not level.

The solution is to have a panning capability on top of the head, rather than at the base of the head. Sounds simple, except that most all the head have their panning capability at the base. There are only a few that have the panning ability above the ball head. There are also panning units that slide in between the ballhead and camera.

hope that helps...


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