Have you been looking for a tripod? One that will help video family gatherings, hold your camera during children’s performances so you don’t have to, and help you take just the right picture? Me too. After tons of research, the legs and head I decided on was the Vanguard SBH-100 and Alta Pro 263AT.
The Head: Vanguard SBH-100
An important part of any tripod is the head; the part that connects the camera to the legs. There are many options to consider when deciding on a tripod head. If you are going to mount a video camera and take mostly videos or landscape photography, you may want a pan head. For general photography, a ball head is a great choice. Most of how I use my camera is to shoot videos (check out my laser engraving videos on YouTube) and take general photography so for me, a ball head was just what I needed. The particular ball head I chose is the Vanguard SBH-100.
The SBH-100 is a medium duty head that supports about 10 pounds of camera equipment. The heaviest combination of camera equipment I have is a little bit over 2.5 pounds (a Canon T3i with a Canon USM 70-300mm zoom lens). This head will support just about any upgrade I will want to make to my lens, body, or whatever.
Here are some features of the SBH-100 that influenced my decision (check out the end of the post for pictures):
- two bubble levels
- Quick release plate (two of them)
- 360 scale for rotation
In addition to those features, the ball of the SBH-100 can rotate 90 degrees to easily go from landscape to portrait setup. This is a common feature with most ball heads but it is very important. Make sure any ball head you consider purchasing has it.
The knob that locks the ball into position is a little bigger than a $1 coin which makes it comfortable to use and easy on the fingers when you need to really lock down your setup.
A few things I would have liked to see different:
- Larger button for the quick-release
- Some way to align the ball back to a home position (added on the BBH-100 ball head which are about 50% more expensive than the SBH-100)
Overall, I have been very happy with the Vanguard SBH-100 and look forward to using it for many years to come.
The Legs: Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT
Without legs, a tripod really isn’t a tripod. There are cheap tripods and very, very expensive tripods. They come in plastic, aluminum, and carbon fiber. The specific uses for your tripod will dictate what you buy. For me, I wanted legs that adjusted in such a way that I could have the camera close to the ground and a center column that did more than go up and down. I chose the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT.
The Alta Pro 263AT set of legs are made of aluminum and have 3 section with lever locks for quick height adjustment. At the bottom, there are round rubber feet (similar to a flattened sphere) that can convert to spikes with a quick twist. The legs can spread out independently with stops at 25, 50, and 80 degrees. That means you can set this tripod up close to a wall, on stairs, on uneven ground, very low to the ground, using just a tiny bit of floor space, etc. The column of the Alta Pro 263AT adjusts to multiple angles, which is my favorite feature.
For taking pictures low to the ground or at weird angles, a multi-angle center column is a great. There are other tripods that have a similar setup but the Alta Pro 263AT won the 2009 TAPA Best Accessory award. Not being big into photography, that did not mean much to me initially. The bottom line is that someone other than Vanguard thought the Alta Pro 263AT legs were really cool, interesting, and worthy of recognition. That got my attention.
The Alta Pro 263AT will support about 15 pounds which makes it a good choice to use with the SBH-100. It has a little extra capacity for a larger head and heavier equipment if (or when…) I decide to upgrade.
Overall, the combination of the Vanguard SBH-100 and Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT makes for a really great tripod. When I was in the market for a tripod, it was cheaper to buy the two separately rather than in a kit (rebates are great). It worked out well since the SBH-100, when bought by itself, comes with two quick-release plates; when bought as a kit, you only get one. Not a big deal but less money for more stuff is usually my choice if possible.
I hope this review has informed you about the benefits of the Vanguard SBH-100 ball head and Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT legs. If you have any experience with these or other Vanguard products, please let me know in the comments. If there is another tripod I should have purchased, leave me a comment and let me know why. Have a great day
For more information on the SBH-100 or Alta Pro 263AT, check out the Vanguard site:
(Some of the links on this page are affiliate links where I earn a small commission if you decide to purchase through those links. It doesn’t cost you anything extra. Thanks)