Things have been changing in the camera support sector as competition increases. Vanguard and other well-known manufacturers have upped the game with CNC machining, added extras, and great product design that’s balanced perfectly with functionality.
The Vanguard VEO 3 263CB is the latest tripod release to impress with CNC metalwork, carbon legs and enough innovation to make it a worthwhile upgrade.
Firstly the solid 26mm legs provide a sturdy base, and although relatively light at 1.9kg, it has enough weight to make it feel extremely solid when set up.
The build quality is superb, but there are plenty of additional features that push the usability of the tripod. Like previous models, you can drop the tripod to ground level, unscrew a leg to make a monopod, replace the feet, and add a support arm to the side.
It’s all very well considered with a good balance of quality, features and price. If you’re looking for a good all-rounder, then the VEO 3 263CB is a great choice.
Excellent leg angle mechanism
Accessory arm connection
Solid high, quality support
Low angle requires unscrewing of the centre column.
What is Vanguard VEO 3 263CB?
Available in a choice of carbon or aluminium, the new VEO 3 263CB/AB is a mid-weight tripod designed for general use. The 263CB can be classed as a full-height tripod, balancing weight with strength, to ensure you get maximum support while not breaking your back carrying it to location.
Vanguard has invested heavily in CNC, so all the metalwork and design of the company’s tripods are being rapidly updated. The quality is superb, and through this test, strength and quality stood out.
This tripod shows just how closely Vanguard listens to its users. Small design elements such as the metal buttons for the leg angle releases rather than plastic, and changes in the bags and feet design have all filtered through to this latest product.
The VEO 3 range has already impressed recently, with the VEO 3T+ offering incredible flexibility. The VEO 3 263CB offers a lighter weight alternative; this is the tripod you can grab if you are headed out on a trek and need something full height; relatively lightweight but offers maximum support.
Leg sections : 3-section 26mm diameter legs
Weight : 1.9kg
load capacity : 15kg
Full height : 179 cm
Folded length : 74cm
Monopod leg : yes
Accessories port: 3/8-inch threads
Low angle : yes
Dual-axis ball head,: yes
Feet options : Rubber/spiked feet
Build and Handling
The investment by Vanguard in the manufacture of their tripods is apparent, with the high-quality CNC work giving the VEO 3 263CB an instant quality feel.
While Vanguard has dropped the grey colour that was synonymous with the brand for so many years, the more common black finish is still tough and appeared through the test to be hard-wearing.
One of the features that really stands out with the Vanguard tripods is the accuracy of the manufacture. All knobs and adjusters are perfectly fitted and smooth when rotated, there’s absolutely no roughness.
In use the VEO 3 263CB is a bit of a workhorse tripod, you set it up, put a camera on top and off you go. The Arca style ball head features a solid clamp and there’s absolutely no play or shift of the head once tightened.
Looking over the crown and head, and releasing the pano rotation again it’s all beautifully smooth and hard to fault.
The only two aspects that I would pick up on are the aluminium centre column rather than carbon, which is there through mechanical need. The twist locks while as good as any at holding the leg securely, the rubber grip just isn’t as grippy as some.
When it comes to build quality there’s not a great deal to cover – it’s built well, it’s solid and should last for years.
The Vanguard VEO 3 263CB is feature-packed for a standard full-height tripod, and the company has been very clever with its range. The naming convention of Vanguards tripods is sensible, and once you know what all those numbers mean, it brings absolute clarity to what you’re buying.
The VEO 3 is the range, 263 means that the max leg diameter is 26mm, and the 3 means it’s a three-section leg, CB means carbon fibre, all very easy.
So those are the details you can instantly gain from the name of this and any Vanguard tripod, which is a feature I like and makes picking a tripod very easy. You’ll often see a + symbol; which means that the centre column rotates to 90º to lie flat, and T highlights it’s the travel version, so packs down small.
The 263CB has a packed down length of 73.8cm, extending to 146.5cm standard height and 179.5cm max-height, that’s with the centre column fully extended. Each leg section is held in place with fast action twist locks.
At the base of the leg, rubber feet are fitted as standard; with a bit of effort, these can be removed and replaced with metal spikes; these are included in the box.
One feature common with almost all tripods these days is the monopod leg, on the 263CB reaches 185.7cm in height with the leg, centre column both combined. With the centre column removed (by unscrewing the bag hook and sliding it out), the low angle adapter can be inserted to drop the tripod to ground level.
Topping the tripod is an Arca compatible ball head with a 15kg max payload. Just below the head and embedded into the crown is a 3/8-inch thread for the support arm, which these days is an essential feature.
The tripod as a complete kit comes in at 1.9kg, which is light enough to take with you on most hikes and gives it a good weight for stable long exposure landscape shots. As with all Vanguard tripods, a padded tripod bag is included in the box.
The Vanguard VEO 3 263CB is designed to be a workhorse of a tripod; its aesthetic simplicity is a testament to the complexity of the actual design, elements such as the support arm thread, push-button leg angle adjusters and smoothness of the ball head are all functional but operate at the high end of tripods in this price bracket.
The 26mm leg diameter is a touch less than I would generally use for long exposure landscapes, preferring a thicker leg section for greater rigidity. Here, the quality of the carbon structure of the legs, leg joint and crown all come together to create a good solid structure.
That quality is evident across the build of the 263CB with small touches such as the bayonet style holes that stop support arms from rotating when attached.
As a go-to tripod for everyday use, the 263CB is the tripod to choose. It’s lightweight enough to fit comfortably on a backpack whilst still having the weight, strength and stability to provide you with the support you need for long exposures.
The leg angle adjusters, knobs, and mechanism are all excellent with that smooth CNC finish. It feels like a step up from so many other tripods in this price range.
However, some design decisions break away from some of the features I have liked about the Vanguard Tripods. The main one at this level is the colour. Vanguard has fallen into line, going for standard tripod black rather than the old Vanguard grey. It probably makes commercial sense, but still.
The other design feature that bugs me is that the centre column is aluminium and not carbon. While I know that this has been done due to the material strengths and the centre column clamping style, I still feel that I want the centre column to be carbon if I’m buying a carbon tripod.
In use, there’s no doubt about the function with the three legs sections of all legs extending and securing quickly. A bubble level on the crown enables you to level the tripod and with the camera fitted with an L-Bracket, it’s all quick to fit.
The large metal leg angle adjuster buttons are a huge improvement over previous versions and work well. I much prefer a mechanism to release the leg angle compared with the more common push-pull that you see on most tripods.
Adjusting using the large ball head is precise due to the quality of machining. While there is no friction control the adjustment of the head using the large knob on the side is easy to control.
One of the aspects that I really like with the head is the dual panoramic rotation. You have the usual pano base that rotates the entire ball head, but then you also have panoramic rotation under the base plate. If you shoot macro then this feature alone makes this tripod well worth consideration.
The final feature that is really worth a mention is the support arm port. Many manufacturers have started to include these, but few have included stop so that the support arms don’t rotate or loosen under the weight of the accessory that they’re holding. This small feature is ideal for anyone who needs a tripod that is equally at home for use with stills and video content.
If you’re looking for a good workhorse of a tripod as an enthusiast, then the VEO 3 263CB is an ideal choice and a good all-rounder. If you’re a professional, this tripod will see you through most situations and provide you with the support you need. If you fall into the new hybrid of part photographer and videographer, the addition of the accessories port enables the easy attachment of a monitor or other device.
Ultimately the only real situation that the VEO 3 263CB might not live up to everything you need is if you need a heavyweight tripod for long exposure landscapes or a tripod with a 90º tilt centre column for macro work, which it doesn’t have. The VEO 3T+ 264CB, however, does, and you can check out the full review of that model here.
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