Amateur Photographer verdict

Vanguard’s interchangeable levelling base and head platform system makes this tripod useful for both photographers and videographers. It’s tall and sturdy, but is rather long when folded down.
  • Quick release head system
  • Tall maximum height
  • Sturdy construction
  • Not easy to adjust the height
  • Long folded length

Vanguard’s latest Alta Pro 3VRL range of tripods aims to bridge the gap between photo and video by using interchangeable head platforms. Vanguard describes this as a ‘quick release system for tripod heads.’ The Vanguard Alta Pro 3VRL 303CV 18 is a large, 3-section carbon-fibre tripod kit that comes with the VEO PV-18 pan-and-tilt fluid head included, so you have all you need to start shooting video. 

Vanguard Alta Pro 3VRL 303CV18 at a glance:

  • £499.99
  • 180cm max height
  • 86.5cm folded length
  • 3.26kg weight (with head and level base)
  • 15kg max load: (legs 25kg, head 15kg)
  • Includes a shoulder carrying case

For video, the tripod employs a removable levelling base, named the Alta Pro 3VRL LVL, onto which the head is mounted. It fits in a bowl on the top of the tripod, with a handle underneath to reposition and set everything level. This approach is typical of a traditional video tripod.

When you want to change cameras and shoot photos, you can swap out the levelling base and replace it with the included 3VRL Platform 30. This is a simple flat base onto which you can put a more suitable photo head.

You could always just use a quick-release plate system to swap cameras. But sometimes, you want to use a specific tripod head for a particular task, such as a ball head, a set of macro rails, or a nodal point panning head. With the Platform 30, you can switch heads in a few seconds.

The 3VRL system lets you swap quickly between photo and video heads. Credit: Richard Sibley

There is also a weight saving, with the 3VRL Platform 30 weighing 80g, versus 420g for the Alta Pro 3VRL LVL levelling base. However, any levelling then needs to be done either using a ball head, or by awkwardly adjusting the legs if shooting video.

Vanguard Alta Pro 3VRL 303CV18 with the PV-18 head and levelling base. Credit: Richard Sibley

Vanguard Alta Pro 3VRL 303CV18 key features

  • Angles: A button press releases the leg angle catch. There are three settings: 23°, 50° and 80°.
  • Grip: To save frozen hands in the cold, there is a textured rubber grip on one of the legs
  • Head: The included VEO PV-18head is a fairly standard video head with dual adjustable handles, friction control, and panning.
  • Leg Strap: A simple velcro strap around one of the legs enables users to strap the legs to prevent them from flailing when being transported
  • Accessory Socket: A 3/8″ and 1/4″ socket allows users to add an arm to hold additional accessories such as monitors or mics.
There’s an accessory socket for mounting such things as monitors or microphones. Credit: Richard Sibley

Speaking of the legs, the ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CV 18 is an extremely tall carbon fibre tripod. With the legs fully extended, and the 3VRL LVL base and VEO PV-18 head both fitted, the height is approximately 180cm. So even extremely tall photographers can shoot using a viewfinder.

Although this height makes up for the lack of a centre column, having one can still be more comfortable if you need to make minor height adjustments. With this design, you’d need to adjust each leg. 

The tripod in use at its full height. Credit: Richard Sibley

I found the twist-lock legs solid, with large rubber ball feet stable on hard surfaces. On softer ground, the rubber feet can be twisted to reveal spikes. 

Vanguard’s Alta Pro 3VRL range

The ALTA PRO 3VRL range includes two tripod leg-sets, the 303AT (£299) and 303CT (£399), which are aluminium and carbon fibre versions respectively. Then the 303AV 18 (£399) and 303CV 18 (£499) variations denote kits that come with the VEO PV-18 video head—as we have reviewed here. 

Vanguard Alta Pro 3VRL 303CV18 folded with carry case. Credit: Richard Sibley

Vanguard Alta Pro 3VRL 303CV18: Our Verdict

The Vanguard ALTA PRO 3VRL 303CV 18 is a solid tripod for creators. It has enough weight behind it to keep filming smooth and steady, but it is light enough to make it a good everyday support. It also has some excellent features, complemented by the high-quality construction we have come to expect from Vanguard. 

Amateur Photographer Testbench Gold

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