Reviews |Vanguard ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT review

Vanguard ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT review

Designed for hybrid shooters, there's very little not to like about this incredible full-height support.

Vanguard ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT Full Height

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Our Verdict

Looking for a tripod that meets the needs of today’s imaging pros? Then, you’ll go a long way to find something that so effortlessly fits into your workflow as the Vanguard ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT. What’s immediately striking is its absence of a centre column, similar to what you’d find on a traditional video tripod, and this is complemented by its full height, simplicity of design, levelling bowl, and the option to insert a centre column if desired, reversing its streamlined design, but a nice touch nonetheless.

The CNC machining, carbon legs, twist locks, and refined finish give this tripod a solid feel in use, and through the testing in the studio as well as out in the field, that smoothness of use was reflected, providing the support and flexibility required for both stills and video work.

There are a few small things that would further enhance the use, such as length markings on the legs and some alternative bag hook designs, but really, I need to find fault.


  • Outstanding build quality
  • Full-height support


  • Best suited to mid and large heads

What is the Vanguard ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT

Vanguard continues to push tripod design with innovations that seem outwardly simple yet make a significant impact on the user. Let’s face it: the way many of us shoot and use cameras has dramatically changed in the last decade, yet for the most part, tripod design hasn’t seen a great deal of change. The Vanguard ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT is essentially a set of legs that refines what support needs to do for today’s users, shooting both stills and video.

Thankfully, the era of the travel tripod seems to have passed, and we’re now back to usable, full-height solid supports. The ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT stands at a mighty 1.8m and offers a suitable base for any tripod head of your choice, with a standard 3/8-inch thread on the base.

What marks this tripod as different is that it arrives without a central column, though there is an option for one if you need it. It essentially arrives with a 75mm levelling base that can be released with a twist of the handles protruding beneath. This is identical to most video tripods, enabling quick levelling and making it ideal for landscape and video. It’s one of the reasons the Gitzo Systematic tripods have been so popular over the years. However, this comes at half the price.

Vanguard ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT

Then, like a photo tripod, it has standard twist-lock legs and is, of course, free of spreaders like a video tripod. Essentially, it’s a very striking hybrid tripod for enthusiasts, professional videographers and photographers.


  • Material: Carbon Fibre
  • Maximum Load Capacity: 25kg
  • Maximum Height: 1.7 metres
  • Folded Length: 760mm
  • Leg Sections: 3, with a max diameter of 30mm
  • Levelling Base: Removable, with 360° pan and ±15° vertical movement
  • Feet: Retractable Rubber and Spiked
  • Additional Features: Hook for hanging extra weight, 3/8″ thread for head attachment, bubble level, luxury padded tripod bag

Build and Handling

Vanguard continues to impress with the company’s upgraded manufacturing techniques. Their switch to CNC manufacturing markedly improved the quality of their parts and design, standing out against most other manufacturers. Although 3LT has also adopted the high-quality CNC look, Vanguard’s quality remains notable.

In this review, I focus on the ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT as legs only, though I’ve paired it with the compact VEO PV-18 and a larger Manfrotto video head that I regularly use. The legs’ build is solid and refined, with a large levelling plate offering a standard 75mm bowl. This versatility allows for swapping out the centre for a bowl, head, or central column from other manufacturers.

The bowl unit is secured with a clamp bolt and an additional lever. Atop the tripod, joining two tightening knobs, are a bubble level and an accessory port. Vanguard includes a 3/8 to 1/4 adapter in this port, which is removable for a friction arm. A noteworthy feature is the accessory port’s design, accommodating friction arm end stops.

Vanguard ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT leveling base

The leg adjusters feature a push button mechanism, simplifying angle adjustment compared to traditional designs. Attached are the three-section legs, longer than most due to the design. Each section is secured with a slimline twist lock with a rubberized grip, providing ample grip. Extending just one section brings the tripod to chest height, with additional length available.

At the base are large rubber feet, suitable for various surfaces and offering good traction. The feet can be screwed down to reveal hidden spikes, a simple but effective design. These feet are replaceable for different styles or wear replacements.


The ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT tripod, paired with the VEO PV-18 video head, is a robust setup for both videography and photography. The VEO PV-18 head is Arca-compatible, supporting up to 15kg, making it suitable for a range of cameras and lenses. The tripod itself boasts 3-section legs with a 30mm diameter, extending up to 1.8 metres and handling loads up to 25kg.

A unique feature is the removable levelling base, offering 360° rotation and ±15° vertical movement, enhancing framing flexibility. Additionally, a lightweight flat platform is included for when the levelling base isn’t required. The tripod also features noise-free, easy-to-clean twist lock leg adjustments.

For versatility in shooting, it provides three leg angles (23°, 50°, and 80°) for low-angle or macro shots. Moreover, it’s equipped with threads and bayonet fittings to attach accessories like the VEO TSA DLX or other magic arms. For varied terrains, it has retractable rubber or spiked feet, and the package includes a luxury padded tripod bag for easy transport and protection.

Vanguard ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT tilt mech


It’s no secret that I’m not a massive fan of central columns, as they often lead to a quick height fix rather than a solid support solution. So, I’m biased from the outset, as a solid mid-weight tripod should be ideal unless you need acrobatic abilities or travel light.

The ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT is pricey but cheaper than its Gitzo equivalent, targeting enthusiasts and pro-level users. This tripod suits those settled in their photography style or genre. While available as a kit with the PV-18, its real value lies in being paired with your chosen head for stills or video.

The legs release and lock smoothly, offering flexibility on varied terrains. The carbon tubes are rigid, and despite some flex at full extension, they feel solid. The speed of adjusting leg length and angle is a highlight, showcasing Vanguard’s emphasis on functional design.

Vanguard ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT dual handles

At height, the tripod provides a stable base for studio and field shooting. The levelling base adjusts quickly, and a large hook adds weight if needed. The tripod’s minimum height is easily achieved by unscrewing the bag hook.

Rubber feet offer good grip, and integrated spiked feet add stability without needing to swap feet. The weight balance depends on the head chosen. The legs feature a rubber grip for all-weather handling, and like most Vanguard tripods, it comes with a high-quality carry case.

As legs, the ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT is versatile. It’s excellent for landscapes, offering an easily levelled, tall, solid base. With a larger video head, it’s ideal for hybrid and video shooters, with the central levelling base aiding fine-tuning.

Priced for enthusiasts and professionals, it offers comprehensive support and is adaptable for various uses. An upcoming central column and a cheaper aluminium version offer more options.

Final Thoughts

The Vanguard ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT blends solid build and quality with versatility and will suit you as a photographer and videographer if you’re looking to take a step up from an occasional use tripod to something a little more permanent.

The tripod’s blend of a high-quality build, ease of use, and adaptability to various shooting conditions make it an outstanding solution for all types of image capture. The absence of a central column, coupled with the flexibility of the levelling base, enables easy levelling on all types of surfaces, and the long leg sections can make set-up and use nice and quick.

This is a tripod that is suitable for all types of work, from landscapes, studio portraits and products to video and in all uses, it will become a valuable asset to you whether you’re an enthusiast or professional.

Vanguard ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CT side profile