Good things come in small packages

15Aug19

A first person review of Vangaurds VEO 265AB V1 & V2 tripod being used in the field.

DISCLAIMER: This review has taken over a year,  and was accomplished using an example of the item reviewed that was on loan from the store i work at,  www.southerncameras.co.nz, and completed using an example i purchased at retail prices.  I have not received any form of compensation for the writing of this review and I am not directly affiliated to Vanguard or its associated distributors and this review contains my own thoughts and experiences using the tripod.

First a little background.

Tripods, they are an item most photographers do not really think too much about, unless they are serious about subjects that hand holding is not a practical way of stabilizing the camera. Subjects like Night landscape photography or other subjects where the exposure times can be measured in seconds or minutes rather than fractions of a second.

Those who want a tripod for the majority its an important issue, and most just want a tripod and anything that will hold a camera will suffice, but others it is a pretty major piece of equipment and have high demands, such as it is for me.

I have a tripod already, but it is massive, heavy and pretty cumbersome to move and use. It has a fluid head which is great for video with a big camera on it, but when it comes to moving it around, at 3kg without a payload on it, its bulky and annoying, so many times it gets left behind.

I have some reasonably tough demands for a tripod, it has to be:

Small, compact

Easy to travel with

Have a ball head

Lightweight

and the big kicker it needs to have a big payload rating of 6kg+

Why the big payload capacity i hear you ask, well for those who know me, i have a pretty diverse range of cameras that get used, from small compact cameras to a couple of big heavy  Medium Format Film cameras and lots inbetween.

For me, the Medium format is a major requirement for me, loaded with film, batteries, and a lens, my MF cameras weigh in at around 3kg so having more than double their weight as a payload rating gives plenty of leeway and over capacity so there is not too much stress on the legs, or head of the tripod.

I have been looking for a while now, and most of what i want in a tripod would mean i would have been looking at brands such as Manfrotto and Gitzo so they would be in the NZ$1000+  price range. We recently started getting Vanguard bags and tripods in stock here at Musselburgh Pharmacy/Southern Cameras.  I have a Vanguard bag, and it is fantastic, I have recommended a couple of different Vanguard tripods to friends for their lighter DSLR’s and they have been impressed with the quality and usability of their Vanguard models.

The Review bit

One that caught my eye is the VEO 265AB, this aluminium tripod has 5 section legs, with retractable rubber feet that reveal spikes for on soft surfaces such as grass. folded up it measures just 390mm (15.4 inches) with ball head attached, yet at full extension it is 1500mm (59 inches) tall, the legs have 3 positions, for low angles,  and the ball head has a bubble level, and arca swiss type plate for easy attachment and balancing of the camera, and best of all, a light weight of 1.68kg, with a payload of 8kg, all for an RRP of $299

I was keen to see how this tripod would handle a day in the field,  and one  of the cameras to be a Medium format SLR camera.  As luck would have it, i was heading about 140Km from home here in Dunedin, to a little country airfield called Mandeville, which is a little west of the town of Gore here in Southern NZ. The airfield is home to the Croydon aviation company and their world class DeHavilland restoration facility. They hold a small fly in every year, and this year it was the final stop for the great Tiger Moth rally of NZ so the airfield had a number of visiting airplanes, plus traction engines and its always a nice relaxed day with a little flying involved as well.
I borrowed our demo example for the weekend, and took it, with my Olympus OM-D E-M1, and my Pentax 645 Medium format  SLR with me to give the VEO 265 AB a workout and see if it would really hold a big camera like the 645 and be stable.

Transporting the VEO 265 is easy as,  when folded for travel, it is so small and light, it easily fit the pocket on my Vanguard bag that is designed for tripods,  so much so, i actually forgot i was carrying it for a little bit when I arrived on the airfield and left the car parking area. It was only when one of my companions on the trip asked if the tripod was for show or was i going to actually use it.

Setting up is a breeze, the Mk 1 version i tested at the time had click locks on the legs to set heights, which were solid without being a pain to use, and the legs extend out really easily. On the example i purchased early in 2018, the tripod has been upgraded, and now uses a twist lock arrangement for extending the legs which makes adjusting the legs a lot easier in my use.  With the folding center column extended, the tripod is a shade over 1500mm tall which when the 645 was on it made it a little over 1600mm tall. Personally I am 6ft tall so i didnt have to bend down too far to look into the viewfinder.

VEO2265AB2The Legs are multi position, and open out to be nearly flat, this combined with an included short center section give the VEO 2 265 the ability to be nearly ground level as per the image

With the Tripod set up,  the arca style quick release  top plate makes it super easy to mount to a camera and slide the plate into position for balance. The included head is not large, and neither is the plate, it is a small square plate, that measures 1.5×1.5 inches, which on a smaller System like the Micro 4/3 Olympus is a perfect size, but with a larger camera like the Pentax 645, is just a little small and makes balancing a larger camera a little tougher though it is achievable.

One of the good things with this head, is that the arca style plate and grip is a pretty common 1.5″ width,  and with many other tripods out on the market using this plate design, finding a longer plate is pretty easy.

Small details like the little lug on the head that provides a backstop for the plate, so you can slide it front to back to achieve balance and not worry that the plate is going to slide off the head,  there is also a spirit level on the head for getting the head level, but there is no level on the legs, sometimes that would a great thing as you can level the legs, and its easily seen still if there is a camera on the head.

In use with a camera mounted, the ball head is very easily controlled, with TB50H

large locking & Friction tabs so if an adjustment is needed while you are looking

through the viewfinder, its a piece of cake to turn the lock knob, make the adjustment and re-lock in place.

I had the 645 on the tripod for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours, and when i wanted to move places i just simply folded the legs in, picked it up and carried it on my shoulder with everything locked in place the camera didn’t move at all, put the tripod down, reset the legs if needed, take photo, repeat.

Consequently after my own purchase it has been used with great success, even with exposures exceeding 2 minutes and been superb and the handling even at night & in the cold has exceeded my expectations.

Overall, its been a wise decision personally, and i highly recommend it.

CONCLUSION:

The ease of use, great payload capacity and compactness of the tripod make it a great choice for travelers and those who want a light, compact tripod that will handle a DSLR with a largish telephoto lens attached, the  cons are not really cons as they are easily overcome.

 

Pros:

Lightweight,

Great Payload rating of 8kg

Easy to transport due to the compact folded size

Super low at widest leg settings yet 1.5m tall at full extension.

The ball head is a joy to use with big friction locks an tabs,

Great value ($299.95NZ)

Cons:

The plate could be a little longer to take advantage of the payload when using  a                       larger body,  no spirit level on the legs

 

4.5 out of 5  SD cards out of 5

4.5scale



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