I recently contacted Vanguard US about testing some of the monopods they manufacture. My plan was to test one monopod on the lower end of the spectrum, and one on the higher end. Several weeks ago, I reviewed the VEO AM-264TR, which you can read here. This week I will be reviewing the VEO AM-204, which is on the lower end of the spectrum. You can see more about the AM-204 on Vanguard's website.
Like I mentioned previously, I imagine most of us do not think about monopods. When we do, we are usually in the same spot as we are when it comes to tripods, we are lost. So we dive off into the depths of the Internet to do research and just like tripods, there are many choices with many different many price points.
Vanguard is one of the many manufacturers. I have been using one of their tripods for several years and have been very happy with it. They were my first choice due to the quality products they produce. Although I have had not had a reason to contact customer service for an issue, I have read very positive reviews about it.
The VEO AM-264TR is on the higher end of the Vanguard line in regards to price and performance. I wanted to test a monopod that was on the lower end and that is where the VEO AM-204 comes in.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE AM-204
The first thing I noticed about the AM-204 monopod was weight. The AM-204 weighs in at just under one pound. The other thing that I immediately noticed was the collapsed length of 18.5”. It is several inches shorter than the AM-264TR.
The best part is that although this tripod is on the lower end of the Vanguard spectrum when it comes to monopods, it still comes with the rubber cap to cover the screw mount. Attached is the same kind of wrist strap and small snap link. If you are a photographer that needs to keep notes while you shoot, you can hook a small notebook to the snap link, and clip a pen to the strap. I doubt Vanguard had that in mind, but I recently did that at a rodeo and it worked perfectly.
Another area where Vanguard kept things inline with the rest of the monopods they sell is the leg locks. They are the same ones that they use on the AM-264TR and I really, really like these particular leg locks. They are smooth and tight and the user can keep them tight with the enclosed Allen wrench that comes with their monopods.
Now for the one negative thing I have to say about the AM-204. I failed to check the specifications before I made my request, so when it came time to test, I realized that at full extension, this monopod is too short for me when I am standing up. At an extended height of just over 55 inches, I was unable to use the monopod while standing up. I am right at 6 foot tall, and even with the battery grip, it was too low for me. So for me, this monopod is fine if I am sitting, or if I am in my preferred rodeo shooting position, down low.
AT THE ARENA
Of course I had to test this monopod at the rodeo arena. No better place than to drag it through the dirt to get a feel how it would handle.
Like a boss, everything felt great with this monopod. Since it is on the short side and I prefer to be low, the AM-204 worked out great. I have no complaints about it.
If you are like me, you might have thought about using a monopod as a walking stick. Vanguard actually advertises that the AM-204 can double for a walking stick. The aluminum construction makes the monopod pretty solid. Now you can ditch that wooden walking stick, and use this monopod, which can be collapsed and stowed away.
While the Vanguard AM-204 will not fit into everyone's wheelhouse due to the height constraints, for $39.99 on Amazon as of this writing, the price is right for those photographers who can use a monopod.