Happy Birthday to Me – A New Tripod

(And Merry Christmas too.)

A little over a week ago, I watched a video that Mike Moats had made a few months back about a new tripod from Vanguard – the VEO 3+ 263AB. Vanguard is using this new model to replace the Alta Pro 263AB. (They have other similar updates / replacements from one series to the other as well.)

I had been thinking that the Alta Pro would be the next tripod for me, but Mike convinced me that this newer edition was a whole lot better than the old one. I had been saving up my Amazon bucks to make a purchase, but the VEO 3+ is so new that it isn’t available there yet.

Fortunately, I found a website that offered a coupon for 20% off purchases made directly from Vanguard. (I won’t post that coupon here because it might not be valid anymore. You can do a quick search of your own to see if one is still available.) After applying the coupon, my total cost was exactly $200. (Shipping is free for purchases over $75.) This was about 2/3 of the cost of the Alta Pro after adding the ball head I’d been looking at. The VEO includes a nice ball head with your purchase – nothing extra needed.

Last week (with permission) I ordered the VEO.

It arrived today. It only took 5 days total, including the weekend.

Unboxing the VEO 3+

I don’t do videos, so I’ll take you through the unboxing, setting up, and first use of the tripod with a series of snapshots. Immediately below, you can see the cardboard box that the tripod arrived in.

Vanguard tripod in shipping box
Tripod shipping box

At first, based on the fact that the taped seam was bulging, I thought they hadn’t even used a box that fit the inner box. The actual problem was that the inner box had become dented, forcing the seam to nearly burst. No tripods were harmed during shipping, but they could have done a better job of taping the outer box.

In the picture below, you can’t even really see the dent on the inner box anymore.

VEO 3+ tripod box
VEO 3+ in its box

Sometimes I keep shipping boxes for reuse, but these boxes are too long and thin for anything I might ship in the future. Out they went for recycling.

Inside the mostly-white box was the tripod inside its carrying case. The case itself has good straps, a velcro closer, and a double zipper that slides very nicely.

Vanguard tripod case
Vanguard tripod case

Inside the case were all the goodies. Some of them were in the zippered inner pocket. (Some pieces, like the user manuals and allen wrenches went back into that pocket for storage.) Everything was tightly wrapped.

Vanguard VEO 3+ case and wrapped pieces
Tripod and accessories wrapped for shipping

With all the wrappings removed, here is what I got.

VEO 3+ 263AB pieces
VEO tripod bits and pieces

The tripod and head come assembled as shown. The papers at the bottom are a warranty “card”, the ball head user manual, and the tripod user manual. Above these are two allen wrenches for tightening the legs later on, three pointy bits that I can use on the leg ends as needed for stability on soft ground, the plate for attaching my camera to the head, a dohickey that screws into the bottom of the center pole to which I can add ballast, and an additional attachment that’s too hard to explain here.

When I unfolded the legs and stood the tripod up, it looked like this.

Vanguard VEO 3+ 263AB upright
Vanguard VEO 3+ 263AB tripod upright

It would have been nice to take a shot of it with my camera attached – and I even considered taking such a pic from my phone – but I decided to show off just the tripod by itself.

With all of those silver knobs and levers, I can make this tripod twist and turn every which way – even loose! I won’t go into all the details, but I will mention a few things it can do.

The legs are fully collapsed above. There are 3 sections that I can extend. (That’s the “3” in the 263 model number.) Fully extended and with the center pole fully raised, I believe it’s taller than me. I’m just under 6 feet tall.

Since the head (the part the camera rests on) is the ball type, I can angle it in virtually any direction. Combining that with being able to bring the center pole up and out, so I can angle it in any direction as well, means I can really take any reasonable shot you can imagine.

Apparently there are some locations that don’t allow you to bring a tripod in because it makes things too crowded. I’ve never been to such a place and maybe never will be, but if the situation occurs, I can likely still use this tripod by turning it into a monopod.

A monopod has just one leg. I can take the center pole out of the VEO, unscrew one of the legs, attach the two pieces to each other, and I’ve got my very own monopod! Cool, yesno?

First Shots with the VEO 3+ Tripod

Just to prove to myself and to you that this tripod is helpful, even necessary, to take some shots, I took it outside today (before the rain and/or snow comes) to get these pictures.

Dead star flowers
Dead star flowers

“Meh,” you say? Perhaps, but the point is I couldn’t have taken this shot from this angle without a tripod and still gotten such a nicely-focused image.

This same goes for the pic below – a much niftier photo.

Milkweed seed on moss in rock
Milkweed seed on moss in a hole in the rock

In case you’re wondering, I did not plant that seed there. The wind blew it there on its own.

Now…what should I spend all those Amazon bucks on?