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Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS Carbon Fibre Tripod Review

Vanguard has a comprehensive range of both aluminium and carbon fibre tripods, which boast award winning features, such as the TIPA Best Tripod Award which the VEO 3GO series attracted. When the folks at Vanguard kindly agreed to loan us the all-new Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS Tall Carbon Fibre Tripod with Ball Head kit for landscape photography, we relished the chance to see how it performs.

Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS Carbon Fibre Tripod Review

The new model is the largest and sturdiest Veo 3+ series Vanguard tripod, which has been updated with thicker 30mm carbon fibre legs for extra stability and a higher 25kg load capacity. This lends itself to landscape photography, macro, architecture, interiors and really any subject which benefits from a highly stable platform.

Introduction to Vanguard

Vanguard was founded in 1986 with a premise to create high quality, innovative and feature-rich products for photographers. This has driven a comprehensive product range, which spans not only tripods, but also camera backpacks, binos and tripod accessories, such as support arms, tripod heads and more.

With over 30 years of experience, a 3rd generation Veo 3+ tripod system and 10 year warranty extension program, this is a brand who deliver on their promises.

Capturing close-ups with the Vanguard MACC column

What’s included in the Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS Tripod Kit?

The new Vanguard VEO 3+ tripod design incorporates the innovative Multi-Angle Central Column (MACC), which contributes to the all-in-one tripod system for photographers and content creators who work out in the field. The following items all included in the VEO 3+ 303CBS Tripod Kit:

  1. Updated VEO 3+ carbon fibre tripod legs with 30mm diameter leg and 25kg load capacity
  2. Multi-Angle Central Column (MACC)
  3. VEO+MA1 for conversion to multi-mount
  4. VEO BH-250S Arca Compatible Dual Axis Ball Head
  5. Tripod bag
  6. Spiked feet / rubber feet

This is perhaps the most advanced kit ever from Vanguard and promises greater versatility from an even more stable platform.

Shooting with a horizontal angle for landscapes

Key Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS Tripod specifications

All-important tripod specs give us an idea of what a platform is capable of and certain specifications such as load capacity and maximum height are essential when choosing one for specific types of photography. Key VEO 3+ 303CBS specs are as follows:

  • 25kg load capacity
  • Maximum height without column 151cm
  • Maximum height with column extended 177cm
  • 79cm folded down length
  • Accessory arm thread
  • 2.6kg weight

These provide an insight into capabilities, but how does the system work in the field when you’re capturing photos and video?

Hunting for waterfalls with the easy to operate Vanguard carbon legs

Is the Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS good for landscape photography?

With it’s upgraded 30mm carbon leg section, high payload and versatile height adjustment the Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS tripod is a strong choice for landscape photography. There are several features which provide instant benefits and make this model especially easy to work with for landscape photographers, which are highlighted below.

Easy to operate locks and levers

How easy is the VEO 3+ to use?

The VEO 3+ system was fast to set-up and adjust for different terrain, particularly with the clever top leg angle selector locks, which are large enough to click in and out effortlessly, even when wearing gloves. The tripod was set-up in a stream, on muddy ground and for seascapes, and was surprisingly quick to work with across all of these situations.

All of the buttons and levers are well placed and designed in different sizes and shapes, which helps when memorising their various functions. I found that muscle memory kicked in quickly, allowing me to make adjustments without needing to look at any of the controls, which is incredibly useful when working quickly as available light changes. The large red sliding lock for the MACC was robust and always felt securely locked in place, which was similar to the other controls.

When the Multi-Angle Central Column was in horizontal mode, the rotating ball head lever was extremely intuitive to use and provided quick adjustment of camera positioning. This contributes to overall ease-of-use and the speed at which this system can be adjusted for each shot. There’s even a handy scale on the column which helps achieve an identical set-up when repeating a series of shots. The included VEO+ MA1 adaptor lets you add another camera, phone or accessory onto the column when used in horizontal mode, although I did not test this feature.

Tripod mounted to camera backpack

When capturing video I did mount a video monitor to the accessory thread, which continued the theme of being quick and easy to use. If you’re a content creator who works with additional tools this is a versatile tripod, which you can attach LED lights, monitor/recorders and more onto.

Even when extended the tripod was flawlessly stable in regular vertical mode, although it’s worth noting that strong wind will amplify any shake when shooting with a fully extended centre column. The heaviest lens I shot with was the Sony FE 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Telephoto Zoom Lens, which weighs a fairly hefty 1359g. The tripod didn’t flinch and I would have been comfortable using a heavier camera and lens combination in vertical mode.

Once a shoot was finished it was easy to hike between locations when the legs were strapped onto the Alta Sky 68 Backpack and you can discover more about this cavernous camera bag in our Vanguard Alta Sky 68 Backpack review.

Beautifully crafted CNC machined parts

What’s the VEO 3+ 303CBS tripod build quality like?

Vanguard uses CNC machine manufacturing processes for all metal parts, which delivers maximum stability, robustness and lower weight. This means that every metal part has been machined from a larger metal part and the quality really does shine through. Everything felt solid, all of the elements were captive so they stay in place and the twist locks were smooth to adjust with a simple half-turn.

As with all Vanguard tripods, the carbon weave is attractive and the legs felt properly rigid, which is exactly what you need to capture sharp results when shooting at slow shutter speeds. The included tripod bag also felt premium quality and would look perfectly at home when attending an architectural shoot or studio session.

Included heavyweight ball head

Vanguard VEO BH-250S Ball Head performance

The Vanguard VEO BH-250S Ball Head is compatible with Arca Swiss plates and worked perfectly with my camera L bracket, sliding smoothly on, whilst offering the same 25kg payload as the tripod legs. The head features two 360° panning knobs and is machined from aircraft-grade aluminium, with a friction knob to cater for longer lenses.

In use the head worked perfectly as intended, with silky smooth panning and it had no problem supporting all of the lenses I tried out, from a beefy Sigma 14-24mm ultra wide angle lens to the Sony super telephoto zoom mentioned earlier. The head complements the thicker carbon legs for an assured system, which inspires confidence and does it’s job with ease.

As a full-sized tripod this is an excellent option for photographers who need a reliable, stable platform to shoot at various heights and angles. Similarly, creators who shoot with video accessories will find this to be a great choice, with the added flexibility to mount an additional camera, phone and other essentials for their content.

Video set-up with accessory mounts and microphone

One tripod does not fit every occasion and if you travel or hike for extended periods the VEO 3GO 204CB or similar lightweight travel tripods would complement this full-sized model, although you sacrifice features vs the weight saving. For the rest of the time when you’re not travelling, this versatile Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS Tall Carbon Fibre Tripod with Ball Head could be just what you need.

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By Nick Dautlich on 19/04/2023

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