Vanguard Alta Pro 284 CT Carbon Fiber Tripod
The tripod is one of the most important photographic accessory for a nature photographer. Sometimes you need to deal with difficult angles. Winner of the prestigious 2009 TIPA awards, the Vanguard Alta Pro 284CT is a sturdy and highly maneuverable tripod featuring a carbon fiber body and retractable legs that are in four segments making them ideally suitable for shooting tight shots at very acute angles.
Operation and control
Turning the legs and locking them in position is quite simple really. In real life situations all one needs is to make a quick 1/4th turn and they simple click in position. It saves a lot of hassles as the photographer can have it setup fast and get started. For additional grip while shooting at outdoors, where the conditions are rarely to your satisfaction, you can spin the feet and a spike pops out from the base making the legs get that extra bit of firm grip. The legs can be set at varying angles such as 25, 50 and all the way to 80 degrees. This is a cool feature to have especially on the higher end where it allows the camera to almost sit down on top of the subject. This is handy when you are shooting dew drops on the grass or composing a shot of a flowerbed or even trying something very interesting with your set of macro lenses. The die-caste canopy and head is made of premium quality magnesium and is very well built.
The innovative Multi-Angle Central Column system
The tripod features Vanguard’s innovative Multi-Angle Central Column system (MACC) which allows the photographer to reach underneath the central column, pull a knob and the central column immediately becomes unlatched and ready to be moved around 180 degrees vertically. By locking the central column, overlooking a product, a photographer can easily use it to shoot images for food items, ready to serve cooked items and other products which are ideally suited for overhead shots. The central column can be locked at any angles when it is going down which means it is possible to have it hanging straight down at 180 degrees. Combined with the fact that the legs can go down to an angle of 80 degrees, one can really shoot a very tight overhead shot without having to place the camera on the ground.
- Extended height(mm):1600
- Folded height(mm):535
- Maximum loading capacity(kg):8
- Titled Loading Capacity(kg):7
- Extended height(inch):63
- Folded height(inch):21
- Maximum loading capacity(lbs):18
- Titled Loading Capacity(lbs):15.4
- Number of Leg Sections:4
- Leg Diameter(mm):28
- Head Specs: 1 Bubble level(pcs)
Some cheeky features
Offsetting the balance of the camera weight when it is mounted on the head and extended at right angle can be a challenge. This is especially true when you are shooting landscapes and have nothing around you but stones. So what Vanguard has done with the Altapro 284 CT tripod is provide a metal hook at the back of the central column. This allows you to hang a small bag containing say sand or rocks to prevent the tripod from getting offset when extended. This is actually a nice feature to have which allows the photographer to have more control over his equipment and ensure that he gets a steady shot. This works together with the advanced camera shock absorber and vibration control built into tripod. When shooting macro, every nanometer of movement can impact the final result. It thus pays to have as much shock absorber and vibration control as possible. The 6X carbon fiber can withstand a maximum weight of 8 Kg, which should be enough considering the fact the heaviest pieces of equipments including a bulky DSLR and a telephoto lens should be within that allowable range. The tilted loading limit is also respectable at 7 Kg. Overall weight is not that much and at 1.8 Kgs it feels nothing when carried in the provided bag. At $349 it is also a great bargain.
In Real Life Use
Mostly, I am using it for my Canon EOS 5D Mark III along with Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS, EF 70-200f/4L IS and the EF16-35 f/2.8L and had no issues with stability or performance. I also used it for macro photography using EF 100 mm f/2.8L IS without any issue. Built-in spike that comes out by rotating the rubber feet is useful in order to add a bit more stability while shooting on carpet or dirt. If I had to list any con’s, I would say the legs being a little resistant to coming out and the bag is little bit short for a attached ball head.
Before buying, I considered Gitzo GT2541EX over Vanguard. Definitely solid & sturdier than Vanguard Alta Pro 284CT. However they come at a cost. Besides cost, if you are using it more for regular photography & less for Macro, it’s off center central column is little bit odd too. If you use your tripod mostly for difficult angle shot or macro you should seriously consider Gitzo GT2541EX. Remember, a good tripod will serve you more than a decade. Overall, I’m very happy with this tripod, and I’m hoping this will be the last tripod I need for quite some time. For regular use & budget conscious folks Vanguard Alta Pro 284CT it is real bargain. This is an all-rounder…