Review: Vanguard Auctus Plus 323CT

  • Extended height: 70 7/8 in
  • Min.Extended Height: 57 1/8 in
  • Folded height: 28 in
  • Weight:8.05 lb
  • Maximum loading capacity: 39.7 lb
  • Number of Leg Sections: 3
  • Leg Diameter: 32 mm
  • Bubble level: Yes
  • Price: $599.99 (MSRP)

Our Thoughts:
A lot changed at the end of 2012.  I was becoming more serious about product photography and had attended two photography workshops to work on my photography skills.  I had also, thanks to some CRAZY deals on Craigslist, fallen into owning new lenses and an older pro Nikon body.     Heavier camera gear and a desire to expand farther into studio work meant I was in need of a sturdy carbon fiber tripod.  I was impressed with my Vanguard Alta Pro 264AB 100 and very much impressed with Vanguard as a company - it was refreshing to talk to an actual person when I contacted their customer service - so I decided to continue supporting them.  After learning it had received the prestigious 2011 TIPA and Red Dot awards, I decided to give the Auctus Plus 323CT a try, and I am glad I did.

Thank you Colter Larson for the photo of me in Yellowstone!

Vanguard markets the tripod as 'designed to go from a studio to an outdoor shoot in a snap,' a feature I believe it does rather well. At 6'6", I have found the tripod's extended height to be perfect, both in the studio an din the field. Even when fully extended, the tripod is incredibly stable. I have made two trips, with the tripod, to Yellowstone where it was subjected to supporting the weight of my Nikon D300s, a 400mm f2.8, and Wimberley Gimbal Head - all without flinching. I am confident in the tripods ability to support my equipment in the harshest conditions.

The Auctus Plus 323CT supporting a Nikon D300s and Sigma 120-300mm f2.8
Not only have I found the tripod to be extremely sturdy, but I have come to appreciate its extra features.  The Auctus Plus is chock full of design elements that are just super handy.  First is the feet; with its three piece design allowing it to tackle studio work, hard ground, and soft conditions like snow and sand.  The 'Extreme Support Height Positioning' wheel system allows me to quickly adjust the camera's vertical position to fine-tune composition and allow for those not 'gifted' with added height the ability to look through the lens.  This is a great feature to have when coupled with a gear head - fine-tuning your composition at its best!

The Auctus Plus 323CT at work in the studio

Is it all sunshine and unicorns?  The tripod is heavy; it is not a 'jack of all trades' type of travel tripod.  It would be cumbersome to try and carry it on a hike into the Tetons, but that isn't really what it is designed for.  While I have brought it along on airline flights, it is nearly too long for most carry-on spots and is best stored in checked luggage.  It is, after all, the largest tripod Vanguard makes and I did not purchase it for anything other than supporting big cameras and lenses.

The Auctus Plus 323CT supporting a Nikon D7000 and 400mm f2.8 on a chilly -20F morning in Yellowstone

During my last visit to Yellowstone the morning temperatures dipped as low as -27F and I ran into issues with the tripod's lower leg sections not wanting to collapse.  I know this has everything to do with the weather conditions and the temperature causing the O-rings on the lower sections become tight.  I brought this up to the good folks at Vanguard and they are looking to see if it has been a problem for anyone else.  What I found odd was the middle leg sections collapsed without issue and once I got home, back to the 'balmy' 10F of central Wyoming, the issue had been resolved.

'What are you looking at?' - Photographed while my camera gear was supported by the Auctus Plus 323CT

In all I am very pleased with the Auctus Plus 323CT.  I think Vanguard has done an exceptional job designing and executing the design of this tripod.  Although I experienced issues on my last trip to Yellowstone, the tripod never failed me and all of the other features continued to work flawlessly.  I would, without hesitation, recommend the Vanguard  Auctus Plus 323CT to anyone looking for a rock-solid tripod 'designed to go from a studio to an outdoor shoot in a snap,'  I am glad I made the investment and look forward to future Vanguard designs.


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