I’ve always been a fan of pistol grip heads on tripods. While somewhat bulky, they provide a great sense of control and are very easy to use. The Vanguard Alta Pro 2 263AGH is Vanguard’s latest offering into the pistol grip market, and I must say I’m quite impressed.
I received the 263AGH for review by Vanguard, and have been using it for a few weeks now. And out of any tripod I’ve tested out, this is the one that’s going to consistently stay with me. I find it to be the most secure and easy-to-use tripod I’ve tested.
Pistol grip ball head
With many tripods, the ball head is often an after-thought. But the Alta GH-100 is an exception — the pistol grip ball head can be adjusted with one hand, meaning you can use your other hand to make camera adjustments.
The ball head also allows for 360-degree panning and a 90-degree tilt, perfect for when you’re switching between shooting horizontally and vertically. The ball head comes with a friction switch — great for when you need the ability to pan during photo or video work. I find this a more versatile and quicker alternative to having the standard twist-to-lock ball head and then turning it 90 degrees, especially if you’re dealing with some tricky weather conditions.
Finally, the GH-100 comes in with a built-in bubble level so you can keep your horizons straight.
I took the Alta Pro 2 263AGH on a few different day trips. I was lucky enough to get some really nice moving clouds while doing a day trip around West Michigan, and I paired the tripod with my Olympus E-M1 Mark II, battery grip, 7-14mm f/2.8 lens and a 10-stop NiSi ND filter setup. Certainly not a light setup, especially for mirrorless cameras.
I also used the tripod in some windier conditions, and the tripod proved to be rock solid and very well-built. I was never worried about the tripod tipping or the ball head becoming loose. With colder conditions, having the pistol grip was much easier to deal with than the typical twist-to-lock ball head. And despite its aluminum frame, I did not find myself weighed down by the tripod.
Setup is super easy; the ball head comes with a standard Arca tripod plate, but any Arca-style plate will fit the bill. There are two levers that control friction with the pistol grip, allowing you to angle your camera horizontally, vertically or somewhere in-between.
Video shooters might also be able to take advantage of the pistol grip by loosening the friction and treating the grip as a sort of gimbal, allowing smooth movements for quick b-roll footage.
Appearance and specs
The Alta Pro 2 263AGH comes in a medium gray color, with black and orange-yellow accents. It has three tripod feet that can be adjusted by two lock/unlock twist locks that can be put at four different angles. With the center column extended the tripod reaches up to just over 68 inches; collapsed it can get as low as 19.5 inches.
Its legs are bulkier than Vanguard’s Veo 2 line, which helps the tripod to stay secure no matter what Mother Nature has in store. The tripod weighs 5.5 pounds and can hold up to 13.2 pounds in camera equipment.
The Alta Pro 2 263AGH is a perfect tripod for heavier-duty camera setups. With its sturdy legs and easy-to-operate pistol grip tripod head, it definitely opens up the possibilities when it comes to using tripods on-the-go. It retails for $189.99.