Vanguard is the world's second-largest tripod manufacturer . . . and growing. Sheer value for money is why. Consider this very reasonably-priced, but heavy-duty, Alta+ 264AO tripod . . .
With its legs fully extended, the manually-adjusted center post of this Vanguard Alta+ 233AO tripod and quick release pan head combination extends from 59-5/8" to 70-1/8" tall. This puts straight-through spotting scope eyepieces as high as 6' 1” above ground level – so virtually anyone can use a straight-though scope without stooping.
The tripod itself has four-section black finish anodized aluminum legs that let it close to 25-3/8” (with pan head attached) for convenient carrying and storage. Flip levers lock the legs open at the appropriate height and unlock again with a minimum of effort. The levers provide fast set-up and takedown so you won’t miss your chance at a life bird while fumbling with your tripod. Simply flip each lever open, let gravity pull the inner leg section out, and snap the lever closed again.
The legs are tipped with rubber feet for a non-skid grip on smooth surfaces. A few turns on each rubber foot exposes a spiked tip for secure use on uneven dirt or grass. The legs are foam-wrapped (as is the pan handle) for a more comfortable grip in hot, cold, or wet weather.
The canopy of the tripod (where the legs attach) is cast from magnesium for strength and light weight. The non-geared center post height is locked by a fast-acting wing-type lever. Simply turn the lever counterclockwise to unlock, pull the quick-adjust center post up to the desired height, and turn the lever clockwise again to lock the center post in position. An elastomeric damping ring on the underside of the tripod head reduces shock to your camera or scope if the center post is allowed to drop freely when the lever lock is released.
If you use the tripod for photography, the center post can also be reversed for low-angle shots (shooting wild flowers from ground level, for example). A removable hook at the bottom of the center post lets you hang accessories from the tripod during normal use. The legs can be independently opened at the push of a button to various angles (the normal tripod leg angle of 25°, plus 50° and 80°) and locked into place. This gives you more flexibility in setting up the tripod on a hillside or uneven ground.
The supplied fluid-damped pan head has a physically long quick release plate to better support the long mounting foot that is standard with most spotting scopes. It has a standard 1/4"-20 thread camera/scope attachment bolt for fast scope setup. The attachment bolt can be moved fore and aft in the long quick release plate to better balance your scope on the tripod. The sides of the plate are metal-reinforced where the pan head lock lever engages.
The spring-loaded quick release lever on the head locks open for one-hand installation of your scope or camera and its attached quick release plate onto the tripod. The quick release lever automatically snaps shut when the scope is fully inserted into the tripod head. The quick release head has a separate small button that must be depressed before the quick release lever can be operated. This eliminates the danger of your scope detaching unexpectedly from the tripod if the quick release lever gets snagged on a tree branch or clothing.
A single large pan handle locks the fluid-damped pan head in position and adjusts the vertical and horizontal drag for smooth panning when tracking birds in flight or moving from one subject to another, as well as adjusting the friction so that the weight of an out-of-balance scope does not cause it to tilt abruptly when you release the pan handle.
The pan head holds binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras, and spotting scope/camera combinations up to 11.1 pounds in weight, so it will support virtually any spotting scope with a camera attached. The tripod and pan head combination itself weighs only 4.63 pounds. A water-shedding nylon carry case is standard equipment.
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