I had an opportunity to spend the last few weeks with Vanguard’s VEO 2 235AB tripod. I took the tripod with me on some local hikes, a photography trip to Zion National Park and a business trip to Boston. The first thing I noticed was that Vanguard included a lot of features and flexibility with this product. The tripod itself has five leg sections held by twist locks that work smoothly, with just a quarter turn. They lock reliably and I didn’t experience any slipping, even though I tend to be sloppy about locking my tripod legs.
One leg includes a rubber sleeve for carrying, which could be handy in cold weather. The included ball head is Arca-Swiss compatible and includes a camera plate, but it worked fine with my existing L-brackets. The ball head includes controls for locking, tension and pan – the ball itself worked surprisingly smoothly for a tripod in this price range. A bubble level is provided as well, but is generally obscured by my camera. The tripod also includes a carrying case and strap, which is another nice touch.
This is clearly a travel tripod, weighing in at about three pounds. The leg sections are thin and, even with the center column extended, the tripod only reaches 57 inches in height. The center column sits inside a rotating collar that allows it to be reversed, reducing the overall folded length of the tripod to about 16 inches, small enough for a day pack or airline carry-on. For my use, I value stability and being able to get low, over maximum height. The first thing I did was remove the center column and replace it with the included 'low angle adapter'. The ball head has a locking pin that can prevent your camera from slipping off if not fully secured, but it interfered with my L-plates. Fortunately, it was easily removed. These are two examples where Vanguard-anticipated-users would all have individual needs and Vanguard provided both the parts and the instructions that helped me to customize the product to my preferences.
Even though it is small and light, I was able to mount my full-frame SLR, with a heavy tilt-shift lens. The ball head held them in place well enough to make adjustments. In Zion, I did some focus stacking, which required multiple images of the same scene. Again, I had no difficulty keeping the camera still for these images, but careful use definitely helps with a heavy camera. I didn’t extend the legs all the way and I used a remote shutter release to reduce vibrations. In Boston I used the tripod with a mirrorless camera to take photos of the skyline in the evening. Even though the camera was lighter, I did start to see some image shake with longer exposures due to the wind in the area. I was able to eliminate the problem by collapsing a couple of leg sections and increasing my ISO a little to shorten the exposure time.
Overall, I was impressed with this tripod for travel use. It does not provide the height or stability of a full-size product, but I wouldn’t expect it to. Its convenience is a definite plus, making me more likely to bring a tripod when traveling for work. It isn’t a replacement for shooting in windy conditions or when solid footing isn’t available – like a trip into the Narrows in Zion. I especially appreciated that Vanguard gave me the flexibility to set up the product in a way that best suited my needs.