Cons: a little light to hold a full-size spotting scope steady in all but the calmest conditions (ideal for a small 50mm travel scope or even a 65mm standard scope though).
Price: RRP GB£249.99 (c. €290 at time of writing)
Rating: Highly Recommended
Launched in 2017 the VEO2 range is an evolution of the critically acclaimed VEO travel tripods and bags from Vanguard. Taking on board customer feedback Vanguard set out to create a new range of tripods tailored to the needs of travel photographers. With the VEO2 265CB the company ticks many of the right boxes not just for travelling photographers, but for travelling birders and wildlife enthusiasts too. This lightweight, compact, stable platform is perfect for travel-scopes, and in a pinch will work with larger scopes too.
View the VEO2 265CB on the vanguard website.
Vanguard VEO2 265CB Full Review
I reviewed the excellent little VEO 235AP tripod and VEO37 bag from Vanguard back in 2016 not long after the company launched this innovative new range of travel accessories designed for photographers on the move. While it was created for photographers, the VEO also had a lot to recommend it as an extremely portable support for the mobile birder and wildlife watcher too.
Now Vanguard has updated it’s VEO range, with a complete redesign of its travel tripods. Enter the VEO2. Available in a range of sizes and configurations with aluminium leg sections, and two sizes with super-lightweight carbon fibre leg sections, the range is a radical evolution based we’re told, on customer feedback
What’s new with the VEO2?
The most fundamental and obvious difference between the VEO and the VEO2 tripods is the way you secure the legs. The VEO had lever-locks for each leg section, whereas the VEO2 uses fast-action twist-lock. Which you prefer is down to personal preference, I guess, although the twist-lock rings of the VEO2 have the advantage of not getting caught up/tangled in your other gear while in transit (because, let’s face it, who on earth ever transports a tripod in the included carry bag?).
They’re also lighter than their equivalent predecessor, but sturdier, and boast a heavier load capacity.
One feature that’s missing from the VEO2 is the retractable spiked feet that the original VEO included — although spiked feet are available to buy as an optional accessory for the VEO2 if it’s something you feel you might need.
When you take the VEO2 out of the box, the first thing you notice is how small an light it is. It feels like it weighs nothing at all — and is so dainty it almost feels like you could slip it in your pocket (you can’t… but it kind of feels as if you could).
With a folded length of just 415mm, and weighing in at just 1.35kg including the bundled BH-50 ball head, this really is a tripod you can take anywhere. Despite these diminutive proportions the 265CB sports 26mm diameter carbon fibre legs, so it’s sturdy as well as light, and with its five leg sections extended reaches a very useful maximum working height of 1,500mm before you extend the central column (which gives you more working height at the expense of a little stability).
Another impressive statistic is that this lightweight marvel has a documented load capacity of 8kg — which on paper at least is more than enough to carry any spotting scope/digiscoping combo you care to throw at it — but more about that later.
While aesthetics are always going to play second fiddle to functionality with birding and wildlife gear, there’s no denying the VEO2 looks great too. With its sleek, contemporary design this is a tripod that looks great, but also looks like it means business, despite its small size.
Using the VEO2
As it’s a travel tripod I mostly used the VEO2 with my small, 50mm travel scope. I found I could happily pack both tripod and scope into a carry-on bag with all the other essentials for a short trip. However, just to see how it fared I also paired the VEO2 265CB with my full-size top-tier spotting scope.
While I wouldn’t recommend it as the primary viewing platform for a full-size scope, it worked better than I expected, and could be a viable option in situations where you want to minimise weight, but need your best optics to hand. One caveat — if you choose to mount a full-size scope on the VEO2, even on a calm day, remember that higher magnifications also magnifies any movement of your optical setup. Resist the temptation to extend the centre column, it introduces too much vibration with a heavy scope attached, making viewing cumbersome.
In use, the VEO2 is quick and easy to deploy. The unique swing out design of the central column allows the folded tripod to be incredibly compact, but swings out and drops effortlessly into place when you want to use it. Most of the time I left the central column in its usable position for speed and convenience, but when space is at a premium it’s great to have the option of folding the central column and protruding head out of the way.
The twist-lock leg sections extend smoothly and easily, and the tripod feels remarkably sturdy at its full height of 1,500mm. Even when you extend the central column it remains very stable, especially with the small travel scope attached. Even at 6’4″ I found I could get my angled scopes to a comfortable viewing height without excessive stooping.
With the central column down the VEO2 is as extremely stable, even with a full-sized scope attached. Raising the central column with a heavier load on board does affect stability — and with a larger scope you will notice more vibration and movement due to wind — but that’s inevitable, especially in a travel tripod. Choosing the right support is always a compromise between sturdiness and weight. The lighter something is, the easier it moves, and that applies as much to tripods as it does anything else, but for a lightweight, mobile support solution I thought the VEO2 65CB performed extremely well.
The BH-50 ball head is a marvel. I was worried that it might not work so well for wildlife observation, being geared more to photographers, but I found it superb. There’s a large lever that locks the whole head rigid — perfect for transport or when you want to lock the scope on a stationary subject. You can adjust the ball-head friction to suit the load you mount on it, providing just the right amount of resistance to hold things steady while allowing you to follow your subject. There’s also a panning feature that makes scanning and following subjects on a horizontal plane a breeze. It’s fantastic for sea-watching or scanning broad expanses of open water or estuarine mud flats.
The VEO2 265CB is a very capable all-around carbon-fibre travel tripod that’s ideal for carrying with you to locations where a larger, more robust tripod simply wouldn’t be viable. It’s an extremely functional and convenient bit of kit that’s the perfect match for a small 50mm travel scope, but, as you might expect, struggles to hold larger scopes steady enough for consistent viewing at higher magnifications.
If you’re someone who travels a lot with your gear, or who regularly hike substantial distances to remote sites to watch wildlife, then the VEO2 265CB could be just what you’re looking for.
From the Vanguard UK website
|EXTENDED WARRANTY||8 Years|
|LOAD CAPACITY (KG)||8|
|FOLDED LENGTH (MM)||415|
|EXTENDED HEIGHT (IN)||59|
|EXTENDED HEIGHT (MM)||1500|
|LEG LOCK||Twist Lock|
|HEAD SPECS||VEO BH-50|
|HEAD BASE ATTACHMENT||3/8 and 1/4|
|BUBBLE LEVEL ON HEAD||1|
|INDEPENDENT PAN LOCK||Yes|
|INDEPENDENT TILT LOCK||Yes|
|CARRYING BAG INCLUDED||Yes|
I’d like to thank Vanguard UK for submitting the VEO2 265CB for review on Ireland’s Wildlife.
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