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If you’re constantly on the go like me, carrying a tripod is always an exercise in endurance and determination. As primarily a wilderness and adventure shooter, I’m constantly working from a backpack where space and weight come at a premium. Lately, I’ve been looking for ways to carry less weight but certainly not at the cost of sacrificing the quality of my gear, and not spending a small fortune in the process.
When it came time to downsize my tripod, my research pointed me to this – the Vanguard VEO 235AB Aluminum Travel Tripod with TBH-50 Ball Head. It looked great on paper, small, light, and more than capable of supporting my mirrorless (Sony A7R) camera setup. Being a long-time user of more robust tripods, I was skeptical when the Vanguard arrived due to its conspicuously small size.
Right out of the box the tripod was delightfully attractive. The look of the entire contraption was clean and professional. The color is a nice matte black with blaze orange accents. Simply put, the tripod has great visual appeal if that is important to you. Also included was a fairly nice storage and travel bag, which was of surprisingly good quality as well.
The Vanguard is capable of supporting just over 13 pounds (13.3 or 6kg). All the flip locks clamp smoothly, and lock firmly into place to secure the leg sections.
The ball head included with the tripod looks small but locks in place extremely securely. The base plate incorporates a safety pin so that even if the clamp loosens the camera will not slide off the tripod laterally.
The overall height with the center column extended is nearly 57 inches (145 cm), which works great for the majority of scenes with minimal stooping over, even at my 6’4” height. Also, the ball head features a bullseye-style bubble level for aid with levelling the camera.
The folks at Vanguard have even included an additional “low angle” angle adapter which allows you to achieve very low perspective shots close to the ground. It should also be noted that the included ball head can be replaced with another of your own choosing if you see fit.
The tripod folds down small enough to fit into carry-on luggage and the weight makes it feel extremely portable. Even without practice the set up time for the Vanguard VEO 235AB is lightning fast. The center column swings up into position and is variable in height. This is an interesting design concept which helps make the entire package very compact while maintaining ease of set up.
The legs of the tripod itself are able to be positioned at independent angles depending on the situation by depressing the lock buttons for each leg.
When locked, the legs feel extremely sturdy. One of the three legs is equipped with a rubber wrap to aid gripping during wet or exceedingly cold conditions. To top it off, the rubber feet of the tripod retract to reveal traction spikes should you really find yourself shooting in difficult terrain.
So far I haven’t found any situation where the tripod would not suffice for a multitude of uses. Outdoor photographers will love its compact size for hiking, and photographers on the go will dig its stashability.
The 235AB appears to be a fantastic little workhorse that strikes a keen balance between strength, style, and portability. I’m excited to put it to work out in the field and judging by the first impressions it shouldn’t disappoint.
At under $150 USD the Vanguard VEO 235AB is one of the better bargains to be had in the lightweight tripod market. Users of smaller DSLRs or mirrorless camera systems should strongly consider the Vanguard VEO 235AB as an option when searching for a sturdy option for a versatile, lightweight travel tripod.