For the last few years I’ve been proud to be able to call myself a Vanguard Professional, which means I’m an ambassador for Vanguard, an awesome company which manufacture a variety of useful photography accessories (amongst other things), including a range of tripods (essential for photography, read why here) and photography bags.
Vanguard also make optics, including hunting scopes and binoculars, and my parents were so impressed by a pair of binoculars they tried out recently that they’ve invested in a pair for birdwatching. I digress.
In 2015, I was delighted to help launch Vanguard’s VEO range of tripods and bags, which at the time was something new for them – a range aimed specifically at the travelling photographer or backpacker who wants to keep their gear light and portable, whilst still offering great stability and value for money.
I reviewed the original VEO range, including the Vanguard VEO 235AB aluminium tripod and the VEO 265CB carbon fibre tripod in 2015, and found they were well-suited to my travel needs – lightweight, stable, and great value for money. A triple win, and you should definitely take a look at that post.
Since then, I’ve travelled the world with my Vanguard VEO 265CB, racking up tens of countries and thousands of photos, and they’ve not failed me yet.
In 2017, Vanguard updated their product range, and amongst other things, launched the VEO 2 range. This is a refinement of the original tripods and bags, taking on board customer feedback, and looking to set the standard for travel photography accessories, and especially tripods, going forward.
Vanguard sent me the top of the range carbon fibre model, the VEO 2 265CB, which I’ve been testing out for a few months on trips across Ohio, France, Ireland, and Scotland. In today’s post, I’m going to talk a bit about what’s new, what isn’t, and how to decide if this is the tripod for you.
First though, let’s talk a bit about my photography gear to give you some context for what I’m using my tripods for.
What Photography Gear I Use
As full time bloggers and travel photographers, we have a fair amount of camera gear, which ranges in size from the relatively lightweight mirrorless Panasonix Lumix GX8 through to the much larger full frame Canon EOS 6D, which we pair with a wide angle 17-40mm lens as well as a 70-200mm f/2.8.
That last lens is a beast when it comes to weight. The VEO tripod can definitely handle it, although as with most tripods, it is more stable when the centre column is not extended.
For the most part though, we use the tripod for our Canon EOS 6D with a 17-40mm lens, and our Panasonic GX8 mirrorless system, both of which fit perfectly on this tripod. We primarily shoot in cities and rural landscapes, and also use the tripod to get shots of the two of us together, which yields far more reliable results than asking random strangers for help!
We have a post on rest of our travel photography gear and accessories if you’re interested, and if you’re in the market for a new camera, check out my guide to picking the best travel camera here, which covers compact cameras to professional-level DSLRs.
What’s New With the Vanguard VEO 2 Range
There are eight tripods in the Vanguard VEO 2 range, and the major change between the original VEO and the new VEO 2 is that they’ve switched from a flip lock system to a twist lock system, based on customer feedback.
This means that instead of releasing a flip out catch to extend the legs, you twist to release the legs and then twist to tighten them.
Which system you prefer is entirely down to you – some prefer one way, others prefer another way. Personally, I find both systems work well, but I do like the lack of catches on the new VEO 2 range as it means that they don’t catch on my bag, and can slip in and out of the side tripod holder on my Alta Sky 49 backpack more easily. So that’s a plus in my book.
Another change, which is definitely more cosmetic, is that you can now pick different colour accents for your tripods. These are blue, red, and the original black. Not all the models have this colour option, but it does make for a nice touch.
A slightly more important change, Vanguard have switched to a more advanced type of carbon fibre. So whilst the tripods have the same load weight as their predecessor (17.6lbs in the case of he VEO 2 265CB), the tripod is actually lighter. The new carbon fibre VEO 2 265CB now weighs under 3lbs, coming in at 2.98lbs, compared to the previous 3.3lbs of the VEO 265CB.
A third of a pound might not sound like much, but when you’re carting something around on your back all day, every little bit adds up!
There are also a couple of other changes from the original model. There’s a new friction control on the ball head, which lets you control how much resistance the head has when you move it. As a photographer, I haven’t found I use this too much, but I have a feeling that video users will love this addition.
Last (but not least!), the feet on the tripod have changed away from metal spikes with rubber ends, to angled rubber feet (you can still buy spiked feet if you prefer). Again, I find this helps with packing as spiked feet can catch on bags or clothing, so this is a good upgrade for me.
What’s Stayed the Same with the VEO 2 tripods?
Other than the above, much has stayed the same. The build quality is excellent, and I am sure the new VEO 2 tripod that Vanguard sent me will last for years to come.
Size wise, the tripods extend to the same height above the ground, which is 150cm / 59 inches for the 265CB model. If you are looking for a higher travel tripod, take a look at the new VEO 2 264CB. This has four leg sections instead of five on the 265CB, and extends to 155cm / 61 inches (although is slightly larger when folded up as a result).
When folded down the 265CB is 41.4cm / 16.3 inches, which is ever so slightly longer than the original 265CB (39cm / 15.4 inches).
The tripods still come with a choice of pan or ball heads, which makes them excellent value for money as you get everything in the same package, and don’t need to worry about investing in a tripod head as well. And that head is Arca compatible, which means you can quickly put your camera on the tripod and take it off with the supplied plate attachment, or any number of third party designs including the excellent Peak Design carry system that we use.
Speaking of price, the VEO 2 265CB has a launch price of $249.99. At launch, the original VEO 265 CB was $349, which makes this a good value price for an excellent product. Compare this to other travel focused Carbon Fibre tripods from competing brands such as MeFOTO and Manfrotto, which range in the $270 – $350 range, and Vanguard really is offering excellent value for money.
Of course, not everyone wants to spend that much on a tripod. The entry level VEO 2 204AB sits at $109, meaning Vanguard really does offer something for every price point. Plus you can use the exclusive Finding the Universe discount code for 20% off everything in the Vanguard US store – just use code FindingTheUniverse (FindingTheUniverseUK in the Vanguard UK store) at checkout.
And the bags?
Along with the new tripods, Vanguard has updated their range of VEO bags, which are small bags designed to complement the tripods. They have clips and compartments where you can put the tripods, as well as room for a small DSLR or mirrorless system.
Personally, I usually carry too much gear to really use these bags, and I’m deeply enamoured with my Vanguard Alta Sky 49 backpack, which I use for the majority of our travel photography needs.
That said, for day use where I’m out shooting with just one camera body and lens, the VEO bags are definitely handy. They’re well made, have a waterproof cover and are excellently priced.
So if you’re looking for a new bag and don’t need to carry huge amounts of gear, these are a great option. Plus, they don’t look ostentatiously like a camera bag, which is always a plus when travelling.
Do You Need to Upgrade from a VEO 2?
If you already own a Vanguard VEO tripod, you might be wondering if you need to upgrade. To be perfectly honest, in my opinion the answer is no. This is an evolutionary upgrade rather than a revolutionary product, and I think the original VEO will do you very well for many years to come.
If you are thinking of switching from an aluminium version to a carbon fibre, then I’d definitely recommend the VEO 2 line over the original. They are slightly lighter, have some new features and are an investment that will pay off for many years of happy travel photography.
If you don’t own a tripod at all, or are looking for a travel specific model, then I definitely recommend taking a look at the VEO 2 line. With prices starting as low as $119.99 for the entry level VEO 2 204AB, there’s something to suit pretty much every price point.
Plus, as a bonus, you get one of my photos, and (even a photo of me!) on the box. And if that’s not enough to persuade you to buy a VEO 2 tripod over anything else, I’m not sure what is!
Final Thoughts on the Vanguard VEO 2 265CB Tripod
Once again, Vanguard has launched a really excellent tripod system for the travelling photographer who values stability but wants to save weight. They’ve taken on board customer feedback, specifically around the leg locking mechanism, and released a product that will keep you happy for many years to come.
The only downside to these tripods is that they are not as high as something like the Alta Pro 2 range, such as the Alta Pro 2 264CT which extends to 64.5inches / 164cm. Those models are also a little bit more sturdy, but they weigh more, cost more, and require the purchase of a seperate head, which further adds to the cost.
For the majority of travelers looking for a travel tripod, I’d say the VEO 2 line is an excellent choice.
One last thing before I leave you. The Vanguard folks made a really cool video of Jess and I out and about in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We thought it came out really well, and figured you might like to take a look. It’s embedded below, or you can see it here if the embed doesn’t work on your device.
So you know: As mentioned throughout the post, I’m an ambassador for Vanguard, and they provided me with my tripod and bag for this kit as part of the VEO 2 launch campaign. I love their gear and am thrilled to be able to work with a company I love, but as always, all opinions remain our own and we of course adhere to our code of ethics for any work we accept.