Vanguard Veo 3+ 263AB Review

A multi featured support for all

Vanguard Veo 3+ 263AB review
Review
Website: Vanguard World

Price when reviewed

£229

$246

Our Verdict

Vanguard has invested heavily in the next-generation VEO 3+ tripods. The quality and features not only surpass those of its predecessor but leapfrog higher-end products. Everything is refined and built from the ground up with quality CNC parts that set this tripod out against much of the competition. The big features, however, aren't the aesthetic overhaul but more the redesigned articulating centre column and handy VEO+MA1 adapter. The Vanguard Veo 3+ 263AB is a solid allrounder with some great touches that will appeal to photographers and videographers alike.

For

  • Stunning design
  • High precision build quality
  • MACC System

Against

  • Heavier than some of the competition
  • Top-end pricing for an aluminum tripod
What is the Vanguard Veo 3+ 263AB

Vanguard is a tripod manufacturer that has, for a long time, stood out. The design and aesthetics of their tripods show innovation and design flare well beyond many competitors, but it’s a tough market out there.

Vanguard Veo 3+ 263AB review

Vanguard is the second tripod manufacturer recently to have switched some of its product line to CNC manufacturer. Machining down-solid metal rather than molding for a high-quality precision and strong end product.

That additional focus on quality is instantly apparent, rotating joints are silky smooth, and everything feels robust and bolts down tight without any sign of movement.

The Veo 3+ is a good allrounder in the traditional sense. It will provide a firm, steady base for serious landscape, studio, wildlife and enthusiast photographers and has features that will appeal to videographers as well.

Specification

  • Full Height: 172.5cm
  • Height with central column down: 147cm
  • Weight: 2.45kg
  • Max Load : 15kg
  • Folded length: 76cm
  • Max Leg Diameter : 26mm
Features

The VEO 3+ 263AB is a standard tripod designed for enthusiast photographers who need a quality workhorse support.

It features three-section aluminium legs which are secured by 1/2 turn twist locks, and there’s a multi-angle centre column that goes from horizontal to vertical in seconds and can be locked at a variety of angles in between.

Fully extended, centre column and all, it provides a height of 172.5cm without the centre column it still reaches a respectable 147cm and will support a maximum load of 15kg. Packed down it measures in at 76cm and weighs in at 2.4kg.

Vanguard Veo 3+ 263AB review

The aluminium legs have a maximum diameter of 26mm.

The tripod is available in four different configurations; aluminium or carbon and with either a ball or pan head. Our aluminium review version featured the BH-160 ball head.

Compared to the previous generation of Veo tripods, the Veo 3+ is a complete reworking. Most noticeably with the CNC metalwork.

This means that features like the rotating centre column that disappeared with the redesigned Veo 2’s is now back. The new version column is known as MACC (Multi-angle central column), and it’s in another class and gives you options from 0º to 180º.

On the base of the centre column, there’s a decent-sized hook in case you want to weigh the tripod down for extra stability. The full centre column can also be removed, and an optional low angle adapter (Brought separately) can be added to take the tripod height down to almost ground level.

The three-section legs feature 1/2 turn twist locks and have three angle options: 23°, 50°, 80°.

The BH-160 is Arca-compatible, giving you plenty of mounting options.

When it comes to mounting options, Vanguard has been extremely savvy and include an accessories port, which has a metal hoop in as standard, then there’s the VEO+MA1 adaptor that I’ll cover later.

Two of the legs feature rubber grips which make carrying the support more comfortable in wet and cold conditions.

A popular feature that appears here is the one leg monopod; this twists off and on when needed. The monopod leg reaches a good height of 182.5cm.

A nice touch is the inclusion of a tripod bag; this is a proper high-quality addition which again raises the feeling of quality. Vanguard has also included a set of spiked feet in the bag for better options on a variety of terrains.

Build and Handling

The build quality of the Veo 3+ is unmistakably a step change for Vanguard. Utilising the increased design options as well as the finish offered by CNC metalwork this new tripod has a completely different look to the usual moulded design that we’ve come to expect from the majority of manufacturers.

Vanguard Veo 3+ 263AB review

The Veo 3+ looks premium and has a tactile feel, from the securing knobs to the lever that secures the redesigned multi-angle centre column.

Setting the tripod up and each of the leg twist-locks requires a small 1/2 turn to release and another 1/2 turns to lock tight, it’s a quick and small movement that makes setting up a steady base quick.

On the crown is a small bubble level that helps you level up, and there’s another on the side of the ball head which is handy.

Using the tripod as straight upright support and while it is not the lightest tripod out there, that extra weight makes a big difference, especially when the wind picks up.

It provides that stable base required to ensure that you get shake-free images for long exposures.

As you go through the initial setup, it’s instantly apparent that the additional cost and attention to detail has made a big difference to the functionality. While the old tripods we’re good, in line with the rest of the market the Veo 3+ takes that quality to another level.

Using the tripods pan, you can feel how smooth it feels, and using the leg angle adjusters to reposition the legs, again you can feel that precision that only comes with the latest CNC tripods.

However good the Veo 3+ may be as a standard tripod the big feature here is that new centre column. This is a mechanism that can so often go fatally wrong.

Here once released the centre column is pulled all the way through and then pivoted and locked into place. This gives you far more options to the angle than just horizontal or vertical, which is useful. In this test, I just focused on the normal use for the centre column; vertical or horizontal.

Laid horizontal the design of the tripod is well balanced and remained stable, I felt happy to leave my camera, Sony A7 III, suspended in the air without fear that the tripod would topple over.

Performance

The Veo 3+ arrived at a particularly busy time with a variety of shoots and projects. Checking out the features and the Veo 3+ already looked promising, but as ever it’s only once you test a bit of kit out in the field that you get a good feel for how good it is.

Vanguard Veo 3+ 263AB review

From the outset the simple ease of setup was a winner, the legs extend and lock quickly, I have a habit of letting gravity drop the legs for me, and it irritates me when leg sections stick, no such problem here.

Setup and getting a level base for a bit of off-road landscaping went well, and I was please with just how responsive the tripod was. What I liked was that ultra-smooth rotation within the tripod crown, it feels like it’s running on bearings, it’s that smooth.

The 2.4kg weight is heavy compared with the majority of popular tripods today, but while it’s a bit on an effort to lug that additional weight on the back of a tripod, it’s worth it for that added stability. You don’t need to weigh down the tripod, even though there is that option, it just sits firm and ready.

I’ll admit that during the test I didn’t swap the feet to the spikes as for almost all conditions, forest, beach, studio there was just no need. The rubber feet do a great job and provide the grip I needed, on the beach I was based on rock, and again they provided plenty of grip despite the wet conditions.

In the bag, which is more like an aftermarket option than a bag provided in the box, is the VEO+MA1 adaptor. This slips and locks onto the centre column when laid horizontal and gives you another mounting option.

The VEO+MA1 is an inspired and similar to mounts that I’ve seen in the past, but never as a standard piece of kit. It simply meets the needs of today’s photographers and offers an extremely handy mounting option for monitors, lights or microphones.

Used with the Bestview R7 or Atomos Ninja V, this gave the option to use a nice large display for composition when shooting landscapes. But, where it comes into its own is when shooting video.

I used this in two different scenarios, firstly for mounting two cameras side by side, one with a 135mm and the other with a 50mm giving two composition options.

The other was to mount the Atmos Ninja V, and again it’s just a great feature and one that appeals to me for video.

From being out in the forest shooting macro to being at sea to capture some long exposure shots, the Veo 3+ adapts easily providing that all-important solid base. Equally shooting video that dual mounting system along with the additional accessories port on the side means that Veo 3+ provides you with a solid workhorse of a tripod.

Verdict

A tripod like this launched a year ago would have been a revelation, quality machining, solid base and packed with features at a reasonable price.

Vanguard Veo 3+ 263AB review

Today the Veo 3+ still stands out, there’s no doubt that it is phenomenal support, but now it has stiff competition. The 3 Legged Thing Bucky is another beautifully machined CNC tripod, but with carbon fibre legs.

The only real downside is the weight at around 2.5kg you need to be fit to carry it on a days hike, but then if you’re shooting long exposures this is the tripod you need.

Versatility is at the heart of this new model, as a good solid workhorse of a tripod there is really little to fault and it has the build quality that should ensure it lasts for years.

The MACC centre column works better than any other system that I’ve seen, it’s fast, non-faffy and just works and locks solid without wobble. If you need to shoot macro or there’s any other situation that you need the horizontal column then there really is little else out there to touch this functionality.

The VEO+MA1 adapter is one of those extras that accelerates this tripod into another league, it’s already versatile but now with the adapter it uses are further extended.

If you need a good solid tripod then there is really little to fault with the Vanguard VEO 3+, is solid, versatile and exceptionally well priced for the quality.

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