Which tripod is best for me?
CHOOSING THE BEST TRIPOD
With a range of tripods available, the choice can be overwhelming. Here, we try to help you navigate the Vanguard range with a simple guide based on the style(s) of photography you're looking to do.
LANDSCAPE, LONG LENS, TIME LAPSE OR ASTRO PHOTOGRAPHY
For styles like landscape, long lens, time lapse, or astro photography, stability is key, as the slightest movement can blur an image. However, there is always the balance between stability and carrying the tripod to your location.
For the most stable base, we recommend our tripods with a 30mm maximum leg diameter, with load capacities of up to 55 lbs. These deliver an incredibly solid base, but are heavier and chunkier to carry around.
Where there needs to be a balance with portability, then the 26mm maximum leg diameter tripods are a good compromise, though the lighter options are unlikely to be suitable for more exact work, such as astro photography.
These tripods include options that have a multi-angle central column for maximum versatility (look for "+" in the name), or traditional central columns. Many are also available as tripods only, or include a choice of Arca-compatible heads (we recommend models with the dual-axis ball head for quick levels on uneven terrain and the most solid grip).
MACRO, FOOD, OR PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY
Versatility is key for macro, food, or product photography. Whether it's in a studio or in the field, you need to be able to position the camera precisely, which may include fitting over or around obstacles. You'll also benefit from the ability to attach accessories to turn your tripod into a studio, without the need for multiple stands.
VEO 3+ and VEO 3T+ series tripods include a multi-angle central column that moves almost 360° in any direction, allowing you to perfectly position the camera for the shot. They also include the ability to attach accessories (such as lighting or a monitor) to the central column, with a thread for an accessory arm on the side of the central column canopy.
With a choice of Arca-compatible heads and sizes to choose from, and aluminum or carbon options, you can choose the setup that's right for you.
If you want to save a little money and don't need all the features, then you could also consider the original Alta Pro Series (not Arca-compatible), or the Alta Pro 2+ (Arca-compatible), but the build, ease of use and features on the VEO series are significantly upgraded.
If you have a traditional tripod and you want to do overhead shots, consider the VEO MT-12 Multi-Mount, which can fit onto any tripod.
Travel photography is driven by portability, and for Vanguard, the key criteria is that the tripod must fold down to under 20 inches. Weight is clearly important, too, but heavier travel tripods are generally more stable, as the core weight bearing components are more substantial.
The VEO 3T+ series is our most versatile and stable travel tripod, folding down to as little as 18", but packing a host of features, including a multi-angle central column, making it perfect for any style of photography.
The VEO 3T series has a traditional central column but improved leg locks that maximize stability, folding down to as little as 16". Plus, it comes in two models: The "BP" models (for Ball/Pan) are packed with features for vloggers, using a smartphone or camera. The "P" models (for Pan) are a more traditional 2-way pan solution for a camera, but the quick-release plate can be rotated 90° to make it a 3-way solution.
The VEO 3 GO Series is our most portable series, folding down to as little as 13.2" and weighing as little as 1.8 lbs., but with the 26mm-leg models extending to 65" and carrying up to 22 lbs. The ball head models include a smartphone adaptor kit, as well. There are also pan head models that can be used with a camera but include an extra-long quick-release plate with spring pin that is primarily designed for spotting scopes.
The VESTA TB Series is our no-frills, lightweight travel tripod that folds to 14.75" and weighs as little as 1.7 lbs.
As smartphone cameras become more powerful, we're developing more products that cross the divide between cameras and smartphones. These are all products that are designed to cope with a camera, but include additional smartphone capability.
VEO 3 GO travel tripods (ball head models only) are the simplest, most portable options, with a VEO PA-10 smartphone holder and a VEO BT-11 Bluetooth remote control.
VEO 3T Travel Tripods ("BP" models only) are more stable travel options with an Arca-compatible ball head that has a QS-72T quick-release plate for smartphones and cameras, and a removable pan handle.
Alternatively, VEO 2S Monopods have tri-feet for additional stability with a minimum footprint, and a choice of smartphone holders. The monopod alone includes a free smartphone kit, while the models with heads include an Arca-compatible QS-72T quick-release plate that can be used for cameras or smartphones.
Alternatively, we sell a number of accessories that are great for using with your smartphone.
TRIPODS FOR TALL PHOTOGRAPHERS
Tall tripods are great to help taller photographers avoid stooping to the camera, which can cause neck aches when used over an extended period. That said, taller tripods are also great for any photographer, as it generally minimizes the need to use the central column or the lowest leg sections, maximizing stability. The downside can be portability, though.
Full-sized tripods that extend to over 65" generally have fewer leg sections and a single central column, maximizing stability. However, they tend to be longer and heavier, which makes them harder to carry over longer distances or more rugged terrain, and you will need a more capable camera backpack for them.
Travel tripods that extend to over 65" need more leg sections and often include extra sections to maximize height. However, they are a great option where portability is key.
SPOTTING SCOPE TRIPODS
Spotting scope tripods need to provide a stable base with minimal use of the central column, with a good 2-way head to control the movement with one hand, leaving the other hand free to adjust the focus/zoom to follow a bird in flight. There should ideally also be a longer quick-release plate with a non-slip spring pin to attach your spotting scope, but look out for Arca-compatible heads, as more brands (including Vanguard) are designing their spotting scope feet to fit directly into these clamps without the need for a quick-release plate.
Our full-sized tripods include models that extend up to 56" without using the central column (taller when extending this column) with a load capacity up to 17.6 lbs., which will carry the largest spotting scope with ease.
If you're planning a birding holiday, then portability becomes a key consideration, as it can be difficult and tiring to pack a full-sized tripod. Our travel tripods are designed to offer the blend of portability and performance. VEO 3 GO puts portability first by folding down to about 13" and weighing around 2 lbs., while VEO 3T blends portability with improved stability.
All our spotting scope tripods include 2-way Arca-compatible pan heads.
ARCA-COMPATIBLE QUICK-RELEASE PLATES
Most tripod heads are now moving to Arca-compatible clamps as an unofficial industry standard. This allows you to:
- Select specialist Arca-compatible quick release plates from almost any brand
- Buy different designs of quick-release plates for different purposes and use on the same head
- Increases the likelihood of replacing a lost quick-release plate if your tripod has been discontinued
Hopefully this summary of the tripods available helps you shortlist the best model(s) for your styles, but if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us with your requirements and one of our product experts will be happy to help. If you'd prefer a call back, just include a telephone number.