Today, I propose you the test of a tripod of excellent quality and a rather original head you will see. My opinion in words and video!
Some time ago, the mark Vanguardwell known for its tripods and camera bags of excellent quality in particular, contacted me to offer me to test their tripod Alta Pro 263 AT accompanied by a rather original head: the pistol head GH100.
The GH-100 head received the EISA award for best European photo accessory this year, and is sold in kit form with this tripod. It’s nice, but for us photographers, it doesn’t mean much (let’s be honest), and Vanguard understood this when they tried to put their equipment to the test of bloggers 😉 I therefore warmly thank Vanguard France for allowing me to do this test absolutely subjective.
Indeed, when I test equipment, don’t expect something purely technical or a copy and paste of the manufacturer’s data sheet, which is not very interesting. What I want is to give you my subjective impressions on the field use of the equipment 😉
As we photographers know that pictures are often better than a long speech, I thought that a little video to summarize its main features would probably be more telling:
(go to full screen and click on 720p, it’s better 😉 )
This video is mostly informative as you may have seen it, and allows you to see how it works and the real capabilities the tripod and the head. I wanted to keep it quite short (even if it takes a lot of time to record ^^), so I didn’t talk about everything. So here’s what’s missing:
- The tripod and the head each have a spirit levelThis allows them to be positioned exactly parallel to the ground, to make sure the horizon is straight. For the head, the level is located underneath the attachment of the device, which means that it has to be removed, but it is also the solution that allows the best precision, as it is precisely at the same level as the centre of gravity of the device.
- To add more on the side stabilitythe central column is hexagonal and there’s a shock ring.
- There’s a intermediate detent to position the legs, not just the upright one and the one at ground level.
- Small defect: the head fits with difficulty in the bag provided, and as it comes out quite a lot, if it’s badly positioned it can easily go into your back. So you will probably have to put it in the photo bag, but it takes up space.
My more personal opinion
The Alta Pro 263AT Tripod
It’s a stability model. There are only 3 parts to the legs, which are thick, with very strong bindings. If you add to that the spikes in the feet in certain situations, the stone bagand the weight of the tripod itself, it is ideal for taking pictures in high windin places steepor in long poses. And on top of that, it can support very heavy equipment. It’s clearly a tripod of professional quality.
Its main disadvantage is the weight (especially if it’s associated with the head, I’ll come back to that). 2kgIt’s not a small thing, and you have to take it into account when you go away with it for half a day or a whole day: you could quickly curse it.
Anyway, as usual, it all depends on your use. As far as I’m concerned, I won’t hesitate to take it when I go to the Luberon at the end of October, it will serve me well to make landscape pictures at sunset (and therefore in low light), among the rocks and with the mistral. I’m sure I can make long sharp exposures even in difficult conditions.
On the other hand, if I’m going to Lille tonight to take some night pictures, I won’t hesitate to take my first tripod (from the creamery across the street, Manfrotto, not to mention 😉 ), which is much lighter, and will largely resist the cobblestones and the light breeze from the North. Besides, it adapts to a little wind and pebbles, I’ve already tested it.
So there you go, it’s up to you to see how much you need stabilityand to what extent the weight is important to you. Knowing that the 2 are linked, and that you will have difficulty having a very stable tripod if it is very light (by definition). Not to mention the variable material weight if you shoot with a Nikon D3S with a good big 500mm, you will clearly have to invest in terms of tripods 😉
The GH-100 pistol head
As far as I was concerned, I had been used to a patella of the type 3Dwhile this head is more like a patella… ball (although the “GPR” system makes it a little different, I’ll come back to that).
To make it as simple as possible:
- On a 3D patellathe 3 axes are adjusted independentlyso you have to loosen and tighten each time. This is slowerand it’s closer. In my opinion, it is very well suited to the photo of landscape and the macro subjects with little or no mobility (such as flowers).
- On a patella ballLike I said in the video, we move them. 3 axes at the same timewhich makes the higher accuracy to be achieved, but also changes in position faster. In my opinion, this is more suitable for moving subjects (as for animal or insect macro).
As far as I’m concerned, I tend to prefer 3D heads, but it’s very personal and linked to my use of the tripod (more for landscape or at least fixed scenes).
That said, if you need a patella… ballthis one is a perfect solution the handle of the “pistol” makes it possible to check resistance of the whole, which I think makes it possible to gain quite a lot in precision, without losing speed when you need it. It’s a really good system.
Defect of this head anyway: the weight (again). 600g more, it’s clearly starting to weigh a lot.
To summarize all this and help you in your choice if you are considering buying a tripod:
- A tripod of professional quality (clearly it will last you for years)
- A tripod extremely sturdy and stable
- A tripod that will adapt to all situations, including the close-to-the-ground macro
- A tripod very great (it’s nice to have the device at eye level when you’re 1m90 tall, I assure you 😉 )
- A head with a very intelligent system for those who need a ball joint. ball
- A panoramic plateau
- (Meets environmental standards, always a pleasure and I would like to point this out 😉 )
- The weightwhich can be really awkward after a while.
- L’congestion It goes with the previous point, but the tripod is quite large when folded (still reasonable considering the unfolded size), and the head takes a lot of space.
- The prices (given the quality it’s clearly worth it, but if you don’t need all these options the investment may be a bit high)
- The fixation of the device that does not come off easily (I’m nitpicking, but it’s a shame 😉 )
Well, I hope this test has enlightened you about this tripod and head, and if you think they fit your needs, you can buy them on Amazon :