Reviews |Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 Tripod review

Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 Tripod review

Vanguard's Sturdy and Versatile Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 Tripod is ideally placed for hybrid shooters.

Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 Tripod

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Our Verdict

The Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 is almost the tripod I’ve been waiting for. It is essentially support without a centre column, and a fixed levelling base means that it appeals to me as a hybrid shooter.

From the ground up, this tripod packs in the features anyone who shoots both stills and video could want, and while the shipped head is designed for video, it can be popped off and exchanged for a standard ball head, Vanguard or other.

The rest of the tripod follows Vanguard’s recent switch to high-quality CNC parts combined with carbon fibre leg sections to create aesthetic and durable support. While its mid-weight construction and fixed levelling base will frustrate travel-focused photographers who are looking for something similar in a smaller form, for those like me who are looking for a full-sized tripod of this type, it’s perfect.

The tripod’s compatibility with Arca Swiss heads and its full-height design add to its versatility, making it a worthy investment for professionals and enthusiasts seeking quality and functionality. Despite being on the higher end of the mid-range price spectrum, the Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 delivers value and function that should make it a firm choice.


  • Precision CNC Machining.
  • Versatile Leveling Base.
  • Arca Swiss Compatibility.


  • Heavier Build.
  • Higher Price Range.

What is the Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18?

The Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 is a tripod that has a clear focus for its intended market, with features such as a full-height design and a solid build that could only be destined for use by hybrid shooters. What instantly makes this tripod different is the fact that it doesn’t have a central column, and it does feature a fixed levelling base.

As part of a kit, the legs are combined with the VEO PV-18 video head, designed for Arca Swiss systems compatibility, so with one base plate, you can quickly switch from tripod to gimbal and back without having to replace plates.

The tripod’s full-height design breaks away from the past trend of compact, not quite high enough travel tripods and, when combined with the carbon fibre leg sections, creates a balance between durability, stability and weight.

Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 Tripod


  • Central Column: None, replaced by a fixed levelling base
  • Weight: 2920g (6.4lbs)
  • Folded Length: 855mm (33 2/3 inches)
  • Maximum Height: 1800mm (70 9/10 inches) without a central column
  • Minimum Height: 290mm (11 2/3 inches)
  • Maximum Load Capacity: 15kg (33lbs) with 25kg (55lbs) for legs and 15kg (33lbs) for the head
  • Leg Diameter: 30mm (1 1/5 inches)
  • Leg Angles: 3 settings (23°, 50°, and 80°)
  • Tripod Head: VEO PV-18 Video Head
  • Arca Swiss Compatible: Yes

Build and Handling

As soon as you start to handle the Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 Tripod, the quality of the build is instantly apparent. Firstly, the full-height stature can be quickly reached with the reactive twist locks that enable you to unlock and lock the leg sections easily.

Being full height would ordinarily result in quite a weighty unit; however, Vanguard has been able to maintain a lightweight profile, balancing the design of the 30mm carbon fibre legs and precision CNC metalwork. In an ideal world, I would have liked a slightly larger 32mm leg diameter, but the 2mm smaller sections provide the rigidity and help to shave a few grams off the weight.

In use, the button leg angle adjusters and twist grip leg locks are finely tuned, enabling smooth adjustments to height and the ability to lock the leg length securely. The rubberised finish on the leg locks aids grip, making setup on a variety of terrains straightforward.

Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 Tripod

Once the base level is found, the tripod’s head then features the fixed levelling base for fine-tuning, a feature that’s really essential for video, especially when it comes to panning. All of these mechanisms benefit from high-quality CNC machining.

An interesting feature is the dual handles that offer accurate control and are reminiscent of the rigs you find in TV studios. Here, their utility feels a little excessive for hybrid field shooting. However, their presence as spare handles is a great addition.


The Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 Tripod highlights Vanguard’s innovative design and evolution of tripod functionality. At the Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 Tripod core is the CNC machined and carbon fibre leg section construction that comes together to offer durability and stability, ideal for those shooting both video and stills. The tripod’s standout feature is its fixed levelling base, capable of 360° rotation and ±15° vertical adjustments; this enables precise composition, panning and framing in videography.

Anyone who uses camera cages, gimbals and other accessories will be pleased to see that the Alta Pro 3VL 303CV is equipped with the Arca-compatible VEO PV-18 video head. The dual long telescopic handles attached to the head provide excellent control over camera movements, and if two are too many, then you can always remove one and keep it as a spare. Another feature of the head is the damping control and scale on the VEO PV-18 that offers slow and repeatable camera positioning.

When it comes to height, the tripod reaches a maximum of 1.8 meters with its three-section, 30mm diameter legs. Height is adjusted with the twist lock leg sections, and along with this are multiple leg angles of 23°, 50°, and 80°, making it perfect for low-angle or macro photography at 290mm (approximately 11 2/3 inches). The tripod also features two 3/8″ threads with 1/4″ adaptors and bayonet fittings, ideal for attaching magic arms or other accessories.

Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 Tripod

At the base of the leg, section are retractable rubber pads that reveal the spiked feet beneath, which further gives you options for steady and adaptable support. For ease of transport and storage, the tripod comes with a padded tripod bag.


The Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 Tripod is, from the outset, an outstanding tripod with a fine focus on video, but it is equally suited to any hybrid shooter who wants very decent quality support.

The CNC machining and carbon fibre leg construction enable its effortless setup, making adjustments both smooth and precise. The tripod’s ability to reach full height quickly and its reactive twist locks enable rapid deployment in various shooting conditions, from rocks to muddy tracks. This speed is crucial if you need to adapt to changing scenarios.

The tripod’s fixed levelling base is capable of 360° rotation and ±15° vertical adjustments, and this all helps you to find an accurate level quickly and feature that quickly becomes valuable when shooting video. With the level absolute level, you can be sure of precise panning and framing, which is essential for videographers. Again, the leg locks, with their rubberised finish, offer a decent grip and make adjustment easy in all weather conditions.

Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 Tripod

The telescopic handles on the video head and the damping control system all work well and again aid precise camera movement and repeatable positioning, which is handy when shooting multiple takes. The option to remove one handle for a more streamlined photographic setup is handy.

For both stills and video, the versatility offered by multiple leg angles and the switching between rubber and spiked feet all add to the tripod’s adaptability, making it suitable for various terrains and shooting styles, from macro photography to video production.

Final Thoughts

The Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 Tripod is a superb choice for both videographers and hybrid shooters. Its precision in the CNC construction combined with the carbon fibre legs and design not only enables ease of use but also ensures stability and accuracy in all sorts of shooting environments.

The tripod’s adaptability for video and still photography, especially with features like the fixed levelling base for enabling smooth panning and the interchangeable feet so you can find a firm surface grip on any terrain, make this tripod extremely versatile.

While it may not be categorised as essential for every photographer, its blend of quality, versatility, and functionality makes it a sound investment for anyone who shoots video and stills with their camera.

Vanguard Alta Pro 3VL 303CV 18 Tripod