Review: Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263CT Tripod

When Vanguard announced the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263CT Tripod, I was really intrigued by what could be coming. Vanguard’s original Alta Pro was and still is a beast of a tripod designed for taking quite a bit of abuse and being powerful overall. But when you take the Vanguard Alta Pro 2 Tripod out of its carrying case, you see that they’ve mostly given it a completely new vision. It retains a whole lot of the strength and great features that it had, but now the Vanguard Alta Pro 2 Tripod has even more. Additionally, it addresses a lot of the concerns he first tripod had.

Gear Used

We used the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263CT tripod with the Pentax Spotmatic, Mamiya RB67 Pro S, and the Fujifilm GW690 III.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the product listing page for the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263CT.

Alta Pro 2+ 263CT is a lightweight, 26mm, 3 section Carbon Fiber Tripod with max pay load of up to 7 Kg/15.5 lbs. Featuring our unique MACC (Multi-Angle Center Column) it can be positioned at almost any angle from negative to positive thus offering ultimate freedom of creativity.

  • Rapid action – intuitive set-up in a matter of seconds
  • Unique Perspective – MACC (Multi-Angle Center Column) for limitless shooting angle
  • Never waver – firm hexagonal center column
  • Position versatility – 3 section legs with 4 position angles – 20°, 40°, 60°,80°
  • Robust – Carbon Fiber for lightweight and long-lasting performances
  • Rock Solid positioning – unique “locked” “unlocked” Twist-Lock system
  • Level headed –  bubble level control
  • High work load performance – up to 7 Kg/15.5 lbs, for multi gear options
  • Extra Stability – canopy suspension loop for counterbalance weight
  • Alta Link – 3/8 thread bonus connection for any accessory: reflector, articulated or flexible arms, and much more
  • Grip and go – non-slip, all-weather TPU grips on 2 legs
  • Firm on your feet – angled rubber feet to match any terrain (spiked feet available to be purchased separately)
  • Bag it – bonus tripod bag with shoulder strap included

Ergonomics

The Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263CT Tripod looks like this when completely collapsed. It’s smaller than previous versions and also a whole lot lighter without being a compromise to the overall quality. Typically when you store it in the camera bag, you’ll need to take off the tripod head.

So let’s get to work, you’ll start with these column extenders. They’re rubber and feel pretty nice. All you’ll need to do is twist them to unlock and lock.

When the feet of the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263CT Tripod hit the ground, they’ll be nice and flat. That’s great for a variety of terrain especially on a beach. These are also pretty grippy.

Now here’s what the tripod looks like fully extended. The Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263CT Tripod is pretty sturdy and can be made even sturdier with the addition of a counter balance for the center column. Unfortunately, I never quite figured that part out.

This entire middle area though is how you’ll be able to flip the center column on its side, which we will show you later on. Basically you’ll bring the column all the way up, release the angle lock, and then lock the column into a specific spot. Lastly, you’ll lock the angle lock.

Each leg has degrees of movement. By sliding two areas towards the top of the leg, you can make it go straight all the way out.

Here’s what that looks like in practice. This is useful in case you ever want to or need to photograph something very low down or when you need the tripod to cover more ground. The legs also snap into position at certain areas.

The Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263CT Tripod that we received also came with a very nice head. The head and the tripod interact with one another to offer a lot of control. These knobs control the ball head sensitivity/movement, the ability of the head to turn, etc.

Personally, I’ve never had to really worry about degrees being turned. I simply care a lot more about getting a good shot.

This time around, the knobs are big, ergonomic and feel really nice. In the case of the bigger knobs, some of them are not really tension based. More or less they’re on/off. Basically what it means is that when you loosen the ball head, you’re going to want to hold your camera steady or else it will fall.

The head also has the ability to obviously connect a camera. Each head comes with a plate that can connect to your camera. When you’re all set then you just tighten it. It’s typically best to use the liquid level and have it face you.

Before I move on, the attachment plate is very nice. Sometimes, it can be tough to get a hold of the D ring attached to it but you can also use a key to turn the screw and affix it to the camera. Unfortunately, the screw is a lot like the previous tripods and doesn’t have the greatest grip for some odd reason. This made using my Mamiya RB67 Pro S a bit scary at times.

One of the best features of the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263CT Tripod is that the center column finally comes up and is able to do more things.

For example, you can now turn the column on its side in order to get closer to a subject. When the tripod is in this position though, it’s likely that it’s going to tip over. So you’ll most likely want to adjust the legs accordingly or set up the counter weight system.

Build Quality

The overall build quality of the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263CT Tripod is very solid. While lots of folks like Manfrotto tripods, I’ve never been the biggest fan. I’ve always leaned more towards Benro, Vanguard, MeFOTO and Cokin. Vanguard has always been personally my favorite as I own three now. The quality over the years has drastically improved.

One of the nicest features is that there seems to be some sort of slight air pressure that keeps debris off of the tripod legs. When you collapse them, you feel some air coming from the legs and pushing off stuff like sand. That’s great for beach photography.

Ease of Use

Like pretty much every tripod I’ve ever used, the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263CT Tripod simply requires you to spend some time with it. It’s very standard when you consider what a lot of demands are these days. The center column coming out is very nice and this tripod is bound to be really great for a variety of photographers.

It’s mostly targeted to landscape photographers though, and there are obviously a whole lot of great features besides just solid build quality that will make it appealing.

Conclusions

I’m a fan of the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263CT Tripod for sure. There’s a whole lot to love about it. However, my only major concern is the quality of the screw on the camera attachment plate. I don’t feel like it’s the highest quality vs offerings from folks like Peak Design and a number of others. Vanguard has always had this problem though. While I do indeed feel the issue has improved, what could have made it even better would be the addition of some rubber to give a bit more grip and security.

The Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263CT Tripod receives five out of five stars. Want one? Check out Amazon for current prices.