Landscapes : Don’t Forget the Tripod

When it comes to capturing landscape or long exposure photographs there tends be a focus on what camera or lens combo is being used and there is one essential piece of equipment that can be generally overlooked, the trusty tripod. Photographers invest most of their budgets on cameras and lenses but overlook the advantages of a reliable and versatile tripod.

Over the last few months I have been playing with the ultra light and super portable Vanguard Alta Pro Carbon Fibre tripod. The Alta Pro is stunning, there is literally nothing to it made of 6X Carbon fiber it weighs in at just (3.97 lb) (1.8 kg).

Remarkably light it is also equally remarkably strong with a maximum load capability of 18 lb (8.0 kg). The tripod extends to 63″ (160.0cm), and folds down to only 21.12″ (53.65cm). This versatile tripod is really easy to carry on any long exposure outings especially as mine generally require a fair bit of hiking. I am using the Alta Pro with the brilliant SBH-100 ball head.

One to thing to note is a credit to Vanguard, the Alta Pro comes with a bag that is big enough to accommodate the the tripod with the head attached.

Speed

It is probably odd to think of a tripod as being fast but it is brilliant just how quickly you can change the position of the camera from being at full tripod height to be ing just centimetres from the ground.

The legs are extended and locked into place with a single twist. Vanguard have literally designed a tripod that has every angle quickly covered. The Alta Pro would be perfect companion for macro photography work where you want to get down really low but retain reliable support and steadiness.

Versatility

It is almost magical how you can get the Alta Pro to fold up into any position and any angle so easily. It is even able to cope with extending the centre pole out to its longest point from the tripod while still feeling rock solid. You can click on any of the images (X-Pro1) to view full screen.

A bubble level on the platform aids set up on uneven ground and the amazing SBH-100 can be easily fine adjusted without moving the tripod.

Spikes

This is a tripod for all conditions. In the decaying jetty photos I really wanted to get as low as possible without risking the X-Pro1.

tripod in water

The Alta tripod comes with spikes in the feet that can be extended when needed. This is a really handy for soft ground or with seaweed covered rocks. Being able to get so low meant I was able to capture this Long Exposure photo using my X-Pro1 camera. It was the first time I have managed to get this level to the horizontal of the jetty.

Negatives

For me the Alta Pro system is utterly brilliant. It is ideal for the traveling photographer who wants to take landscapes or close up macro shots. If I really had to dig deep for a negative it would be how the base plate screws to the camera. I know it comes with a little tool for tightening and attaching the base plate but I’d just like to be able to use it without a tool.

As you can read this is very, very small negative to what is a phenomenal system and after all a small coin will tighten and loosen the plate easily enough.

Conclusion

The Alta Pro speaks “quality”, it feels like a tripod that will take some serious abuse out along rivers or on coastlines and will last for years. I have had mine everywhere from the Giant’s Causeway, Shimna River, Bushmills, in the sea at Portbalintrae and actually in Lough Neagh and it still looks like brand new.

For me though the big advantage is being able to travel light. The Alta Pro is a rock solid, ultra versatile tripod that is a dream to carry. The Vanguard Alta Pro has deservedly won numerous design awards as it feels like Vanguard have thought of every photographic situation and included it in the design of this tripod.

The Alta Pro is the full package of reliability, flexibility and strength. As you can see from the photos (above) even when the physics doesn’t make sense the Alta Pro is still standing strong. I am sure the aluminium version is just as good but if you can stretch to the Carbon Fibre version it really is a worth the extra.

Check out the Vanguard website for more information.



Comments

  1. Nice review David! On the market looking for a new tripod, since my old one is on its last legs (pun intended.) I find all the plates I try a bit of a pain on the X-Pro1, mainly because of Fuji’s silly design that blocks the battery/memory card bay whenever a plate is attached.

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David

David is a documentary and landscape photographer covering everything from dramatic long exposure landscape photography through to live music. David is a former Official Fujifilm X Photographer.

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