Product Review – Vanguard | Alta Pro 283CT

For about 3 years now I’ve put off getting myself a good tripod. When I first started out with photography I had a tripod that was made for a P&S camera (point & shoot).

So it really wasn’t all that sturdy when I decided to throw a 1.4lb DSLR on top of it
…needless to say, in all the years I had it, I never had any serious accidents with it.

A few near-lens-death experiences but none have ever actually landed flat before my lightning reflexes have been able to catch them.

I used to spend easily 10 minutes insuring it was tightly dug into the environment before I commenced any shooting. It was a real pain to be honest! I also used to use my camera bag or some other form of weights in front pr beside the tripod legs to ensure they wouldn’t move under long exposure conditions.

Not a worry anymore though!

Recently, I got my hands on the Alta Pro 283CT tripod by Vanguard.

I’d already consider it to be the most professional tripod I’ve ever used.

Partly because of all the gimmicky things you can do with it that I wasn’t able to dream of doing with my Argos tripod, partly because I dont have much to compare it to at the moment.

First, let’s talk about the tripods partner in crime, the SBH-100 ball head.
(Sold separately)

It’s made of magnesium alloy, making it tough but lightweight
(who really wants the added weight to their camera bag!?)

It features two locking knobs on either side of it for fine tuning, then a third to lock the special Vanguard quickshoe adapter in place.

The larger knob on the right of the ball head, controls the ball mechanism only.

Using this in conjunction with the two spirit levels on the upper part of the ball head enables you to level off your photos (Which as you can see, mine are not)

The smaller knob on the left controls the swivel action of the whole ball head, which is capable of swiveling a full 360 degrees (Really handy for heavier lenses!!)

My 70-200 works amazingly with it. In the past, there was no way in hell I would have been able to use any of my larger lenses for shooting landscapes.

Those days are behind me now PRAISE THE LORD!!! 😉

Moving down the tripod, we get to the center column lock
or the MACC  (Multiple Angle Central Column System)

It is, in this case exactly what it says on the tin, a column that allows the photographer to shoot at alot of different angles (Ranging from 0 to a full 180 degrees)

It operates using a very neatly placed safety lock or ISSL (Instant Swivel Stop-n-Lock System)

You can also see the safety stop button for the central column in this photo,…..
This ensures the tripods upper column doesn’t come free.

Notice the orange ring below the SBH-100 ball head?……..
This gives added protection and acts as a shock absorber for vibrations.

The tripod legs are fully adjustable from two points using a twist to lock/unlock function. I could find only one real downside to this function and thats by twisting it too far the wrong way the tripod loosened off its legs and could fall.

(Which to be fair, is my fault for not paying attention to proper instruction)

I felt like the legs would have worked better had there have been locks/clamps on each point instead of the twisting feature which I never knew if I was twisting the right way (even though it’s indicated on the tripod)

They still came in particularly handy when shooting low to the ground though, which I would have previously not been able to do with my old tripod…

Another feature I found pretty handy was the ergonomic release button that each tripod leg had that you could press that would allow you to adjust each one individually.

Combining this feature with the stability of the rubber / spiked tripod feet makes it one of the best tripods for shooting in various different footing environments like rocks/gravel/sand (Not to mention great for studio-based photographers)

As you can see, mine has already been in afew different environments 😉

A feature that all tripods should have and this does is the ability to hang your camera-bag off the center column for added stability. It keeps the base of my bag off the dirty ground and adds stability to the tripod while shooting.

This is a feature that most people take for granted, but as someone who’s had a tripod for years that constantly shifted/moved during long exposures, I really appreciate the extra stability.

I think my all out favourite thing about this tripod, is the Carbon Fiber legs. It looks and feels great. For long time now (many years infact) I’ve spent walking in and out of Dublin camera shops drooling over tripods made of such high quality.

The Alta Pro 283CT won the 2009 TIPA Awards for best accessory & I can really see why.
It comes packaged with a stone and tripod bag, neither of which I used for this review.

Here are the specifications for the geeks among you 😉

Extended Height : 170cm;66 7/8 inches
Folded Height : 64cm; 25 1/4 inches
Number of Sections: 3
Weight: 1.7kg; 3.8lbs
Max.Loading : 8kg; 18lbs

I hope you enjoyed this review.
If you have, show some love by using the ‘Like” and ‘Share’ buttons.

Ciao for now,



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