Vanguard VEO 2 235AB Tripod Review by Nicholas Parker

At Landscape Photography Magazine, the most important voice we hear is that of our readers. That's why we put out a call on our Facebook page for readers who would be interested in doing gear reviews for us.  Many of you responded with interest and two of you were chosen for this first, initial gear review. Our desire was to have our readers, normal everyday men and women, test out products and let us know, honestly, what they think of the gear. If you would like to be considered as a reviewer, be on the lookout for more posts on our Facebook page
Nicholas Parker is an award-winning landscape photographer, residing in the beautiful northwest corner of Montana, USA, living just thirty minutes from Glacier National Park, a stunning landscape with endless photography opportunities. His work can be found in magazines and newspapers around the world

Shopping for a tripod these days can be difficult, as many new brands and models have entered an already saturated market. This, in turn, can create an overwhelming situation for the consumer. Therefore, it is important to read a tripod review or two, in order to narrow down options best suited for your skillset and style of photography.

However, before you begin, you must ask yourself a few questions. Is lightweight gear a priority? Do you prefer a wide range of tripod height adjustability? Do the ergonomics and weight payload of the ball-head work with your shooting style? Answering these questions will quickly facilitate the selection process.

As a landscape photographer I work with many different heavy glass filters and filter housing support systems. Therefore, strength and durability to withstand camera weight is imperative for protecting my gear. In addition, lightweight gear is also a necessity, as I usually travel by foot to most of my photography destinations, whether I am hiking on a day-hike excursion or a week-long backpacking trip, finding ways to shed weight is vital. Therefore, I always appreciate a quality built, lightweight tripod.

What I value in a tripod: Affordability, weight, pay load capacity, ball head ergonomics, sturdiness and a wide range of height adjustability.

Initial impressions of the Vanguard VEO 2

Pros: Affordable • Lightweight • Sturdy • Ergonomically friendly ball-head • Extra low angle adapter for low ground exposures (personal favorite feature)

Cons: Advanced twist lock leg extensions • Unreliable ball-head-to-camera adaptor plate

This tripod retails for just under $170.00 US dollars, which is roughly the range where quality meets affordability. Go over this price range and you may be overpaying for something that another tripod can give you at a better price. On the flip side, spending less than the $150-170 mark and you are looking at investing in another tripod in the near future. The
VEO2 is well worth the dollars spent; the machining quality is excellent and the lightweight magnesium/aluminium alloy is much appreciated, as little durability is compromised for its lightweight components.

The east side of Glacier National Park is known for rapidly changing weather patterns and strong winds. Therefore, I knew this was the perfect place to test the VEO2’s durability and steadiness in variable conditions. This tripod performed well in gusty winds. The magnesium aluminium alloy legs have twist locks that feel more secure than latch locks. Vanguard made this switch from the previous generation of this model. However, I experienced difficulty quickly adjusting the twist locks. They don’t feel as simple and intuitive as latch locks. Additionally, the VEO2 has five separate extensions per leg, which took time setting up and taking down. Saving time setting up equipment is vital to me as I am a chaser of fleeting light. Therefore, I need quick, efficient set-up to capture light in the right moment. Ultimately, I favor latch locks over twist locks. Keep in mind thought that this is a personal preference.

Ball head
I was pleased to find that the ball-head was able to withstand my heavy filter equipment with various camera positions. I tend to shoot mostly in vertical mode while using very long exposures, sometimes up to seven minutes long. With the VEO2 I never experienced any drift or positioning issues with the camera equipment I attached to it. As expected, this tripod is rated for up-to a massive 17.6 lb payload and, not once, was I let down with performance, considering I pushed the weight limit on several occasions.

Low angle adaptor
Many of my exposures involve great depth of field, with a foreground scene as the main focus of the image. When people look at my images, I want them to feel that they are at that exact location, enjoying the scene in real time. Therefore, I need a wide spectrum of height adjustability in order to move the camera up and down, often shooting inches off the ground. The VEO2 has an adjustable range from seven to fifty-nine inches, which seems to be greater than most other competing tripods on the market. When I took the tripod out of the box, I instantly switched to the low angle adaptor and never switched back.

Ballhead-to-camera adapter plate
Camera-gear safety should be a high priority when working in the field, especially with the high costs of photography equipment. I have had situations where the ball-head support dial wasn’t tight enough and the camera slid off the ball head, only to be saved by the safety pin on the adaptor plate. With other adaptor plates I have used in the past, many have a button on the side of the plate that can be pushed-in, rendering the safety pin to be put in a position to allow ease when sliding the camera body on and off the ball-head. However, I have found with the VEO2 there is no such contraption and the body does not slide easily onto the ball-head adaptor plate. Instead, it involves an awkward process each time, getting the camera body on and off the tripod, which was disappointing. I have a lot of filter equipment riding on my camera bodies and it would mean disaster if I dropped my gear, just trying to get the body onto or off of the tripod.

Overall, I am very pleased with this tripod. I see myself using the VEO2 on longer hiking excursions and backcountry photography trips. I absolutely love the feather-weight feel, the ergonomics of the ball-head, in addition to its steadiness when facing high-wind situations. Did I mention it comes equipped with a universal tool and carrying case? Small things that add up quickly. I would recommend the VEO2 to anyone novice through to professional level looking for an affordable, lightweight, high performing tripod.

Read the other Vanguard VEO 2 235AB review by Kyle Jones

Kyle Jones Review

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