Last Updated on 04/15/2022 by Mark Beckenbach
Ever found yourself by a railing or a ledge, taking a photograph using a tripod, and wishing you had some way of sticking the camera a little farther out? Then the new Vanguard VEO 3+ 263CT may be the tripod you’re looking for. With its innovative multi-angle central column and an adapter that allows you to add accessories or an extra camera even, this tripod has more than one trick up its sleeve. Does it tick all the boxes you’re looking for in a $349.99 tripod?
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Too Long; Didn’t Read
Macro photographers will be more than pleased with the extended reach of this tripod’s Multi-Angle Central Column (MACC). But its counterweight hook easily allowed my sling bag to slide off the column as I was moving it. I’d be super careful when using this tripod with the central column extended beyond its halfway mark because of this. It doesn’t feel heavy while carrying it around, but the included tripod bag absolutely needs a shoulder pad to prevent it from sliding off your shoulder. It’s a good tripod let down by its core feature because of an important flaw.
Pros and Cons
- Super useful, multi-angle central column that gives your camera extra reach
- Comes with an adapter that allows you to add a second camera or other accessories to the column
- One leg can be paired with the central column to turn into a capable makeshift monopod.
- Spiked feet come with this tripod (in addition to the standard rubber ones) for those days when you want to dig into the ground for a bit more stability.
- Easily adjustable leg angles thanks to a pull/push knob on the legs
- Head and column tightening knobs are designed to be more easily used than conventional round ones.
- Carbon fiber keeps the weight down to just 3.71 lbs (without the ballhead).
- You can almost double the height of the monopod from about 35 inches when compact to 68 inches when fully extended.
- There’s no included ballhead, not even a basic one (but the website does clearly state that).
- Tripod bag doesn’t have a shoulder pad. The belt slips off your shoulders as you walk, or the hooks at either end of the belt painfully cut into your shoulders.
- Not compact (about 54 inches tall) when folded down
I used the Vanguard Veo 3T+ 263CT carbon-fiber tripod kit with:
- Nikon Z6II
- Nikon Z 24-120mm f4 S
- Sony A7 III
- Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lens
- Sirui G-10KX ballhead
- ThinkTank Urban Access 10 sling bag
Taken from the Vanguard Veo 3T+ 263CT product page
|Height w/ Central Column Down||54.1″|
|Item Weight||3.71 lbs.|
|Leg Diameter (mm)||26 mm|
|Leg Lock Type||Twist|
|Monopod Folded Height||35.8″|
|Monopod Full Extended Height||68″|
|Monopod Leg Option?||YES|
At a little over 4 and a half feet when folded down, it’s not the most compact of tripods. So if you’re looking to use this as a travel tripod, you’d be disappointed in this respect. It is light at 3.71lbs (ballhead weight not included), but the included tripod bag has a huge flaw which I’ll describe in detail later.
The carbon fiber construction helps keep the weight down a lot. It’s strange to describe how it feels because the legs seem hollow but are still sturdy. But they are not hollow in a bad kind of way; it’s just that to me, the tripod looked heavier than it felt when I first took it out of the packaging. There are three sections in each leg (this might be what the 3 in 263CT signifies; Hillary got a 4 section tripod in her 264CB model). When you’ve unscrewed the leg sections and fully extended the central column, it’s over 64 inches tall. You might find yourself twisting the locks more than you’d usually do on other tripods.
As with most quality tripods nowadays, one leg on the Vanguard VEO 3+ 263CT can be unscrewed from the main tripod and screwed onto the central column to turn it into a monopod. Depending on what ballhead you use, I’d say it can easily take anything up to a 300mm f2.8 lens attached to a pro DSLR.
Check out these super cool knobs. There is no fumbling around with the leg angle locks when you want to change the angles anymore. Pull on these knobs, and the locks slowly come away from the leg to allow you to change the angle. This is helpful for when you wear gloves in the cold and want to collapse the tripod to a lower height, but your gloved fingers can’t easily open the angle locks. This is not something I’ve seen on other brands of tripods so far; a very cool addition Vanguard.
Now the Multi-Angle Central Column is just that – multi angle. But it isn’t fluid angle, meaning that it can’t be locked into any angle. While trying to shoot macro photos, I observed that the central column couldn’t be locked into any angle I wanted, as the lock wouldn’t always tighten. Not really a deal-breaker if you have a ballhead, but still something you need to consider.
A Cool Safety Add-on
There is a screw-on hook accessory that works with the central column perfectly. When using the central column while perching the camera over railings and balconies, I would be careful not to extend it too far. This hook is vital if you intend to stretch the camera out really far over the edge. It helps you add something to weigh down the tripod for stability on the closer edge of the column. Without this counterweight measure, I wouldn’t ever precariously dangle my camera over the edge of a rooftop or balcony railing. It’s not just the possibility of my gear falling over; it could kill someone below if it fell in this manner. You would have to unscrew this hook each time you want to take the central column out or place it back in its central place.
It’s not super heavy, so you might want to use your camera bag as a counterweight for long exposures on a windy day. I shot many long exposure images on a slightly breezy evening without any observable shake.
One evening, I used this out in the desert, knowing that the legs could be unscrewed to clean them. The sand did come off the rubber quickly. Two of the three legs unscrewed fine, but I ran into a snag with one of them. Now I’m not sure what came apart when I unscrewed this, but it took me 10 minutes to put the leg back together. Without these pieces, the leg would just slide out when screwed back, so it’s definitely vital to the tripod. I don’t think I can unscrew this leg again without the issue repeating, so I have to reach out to Vanguard about this.
The Bag Definitely Needs a Shoulder Pad
The tripod bag is robust, and while the kit doesn’t come with a ballhead, the bag’s length allows you to store your Vanguard VEO 3+ 263CT inside with the ballhead still attached to it. What should have really been added to the bag’s shoulder strap was a shoulder pad. Without this, the bag with the tripod inside often slid off my shoulders when I was walking around. On many occasions, the imbalance in the weight caused the strap to slide down while still on the shoulder. The hook at both ends of the strap would uncomfortably cut into my shoulder. A shoulder pad would address both of these issues.
The attention to detail in things like the inch markings on the central column is commendable. There’s also an accessory port provided on the Vanguard VEO 3+ 263CT.
Beware of the Removable Hook
It’s a much-needed feature when you extend out the central column, for adding weight and balancing your tripod steadily, but it’s not without its flaws. While trying to extend my camera over the edge of my balcony railing, I found that I had to rotate the central column to go over the edge. While doing this, I discovered that the sling bag which I attached to the hook needed to be swung over one of the tripod legs. As I was moving the bag for this, the hook decided to flip itself the other way around. My bag nearly slid off the hook completely.
This is something I wasn’t expecting. Had it fallen off the hook, the weight of my camera on the other end would have very easily caused the tripod to tip over. This is something that needs serious looking at by the design team. If for whatever reason, the hook turns around and causes the bag to slip off, it could be curtains for whatever camera and lens are attached when the column is extended. The hook is squarish in nature; it needs more of an inward curl to prevent bags from sliding off. That little tail just isn’t enough to prevent your counterweight from sliding off.
I don’t think you’d face this issue while doing macro photography. The tripod legs were able to spread out quite a bit and I could get quite low.
Ease of Use
The lock and lever system used to tighten or loosen the central column’s movement and angle takes some getting used to. You need to move the orange lock to the right with your thumb, which isn’t easy when the lock is engaged. It takes a bit of practice to understand how much pressure needs to be applied to unlock this. Once this is done, the lever can be moved open to adjust the column.
Mounting the VEO+MA1 adapter, which allows you to add a second camera or other photo/video accessories was easy. Just remember that it can only be slid onto the column in one direction as indicated on the adapter.
This is a nice add-on that can allow you to take photos with one camera and maybe a timelapse on the other, without the need for an additional tripod for the second camera.
Where most tripods have round knobs to tighten and loosen parts, Vanguard has opted to go with S-shaped ones instead. They stand out at first, mostly because of the metallic silver, but you get used to them.
- The Multi-Angle Central Column is a very useful feature.
- Vanguard’s super handy VEO+MA1 adaptor is included.
- You can convert one of the legs into a very long monopod when attached to the central column.
- A very tight lock keeps this column steady when used for photography.
- The removable hook for the central column could use a redesign. It allows any counterweight attached to it to slide off: dangerous if you rely on this for rooftop photography
- Without a shoulder pad, the tripod bag is uncomfortable and even slides off.
The Vanguard VEO 3+ 263CT is a decent tripod for photographers who aren’t looking to carry one around for extended periods of time. While the Multi-Angle Central Column is undoubtedly the star of the show, it needs to be carefully used with a counterweight on most occasions. And my biggest issue with this tripod is the removable hook that is meant for this purpose. It can lead to the counterweight sliding off which in turn can be disastrous for your camera gear.
The central column’s multi-angle feature would be great for macro photography when shooting low objects. It works beautifully when it’s horizontal to the ground and you want to use an extra camera with the handy VEO+MA1 adapter. I would definitely use this as a regular tripod for landscapes and cityscapes. I just don’t think I can trust the removable hook for stretching the camera out with the central column extended past the halfway mark on one side. It’s a very capable product, but it’s not without its flaws. It loses a couple of stars for this in my rating.
I’m giving the Vanguard VEO 3+ 263CT tripod kit three out of five stars. Want one? Check them out on Amazon.