As well as binocular and other sporting optics like spotting scopes, Vanguard manufacture high-end photo and video accessories that include tripods, monopods, ball heads and camera bags. As part of new new section on Binocular Accessories, I was kindly given the opportunity by the UK distributors of Vanguard equipment to try out one of their Vehicle Window Clamps, the PH-242 Pan Head Mount.
What is immediately apparent is just how “solid” the construction of it is, which means as long as whatever you mount it to is steady, it will provide a the stablest of bases for even the heaviest binoculars, cameras or spotting scopes. On the down side is that it is a little on the heavy side (1.56lbs – 0.7kg).
Attaching your binoculars (or your scope, camera or video camera) to the mount is simple using a Binocular Tripod Adapter, which then attaches to the included QS-52 Quick release shoe. This shoe can be move backwards and forward to help with the balancing of your equipment.
Quick Release Platform
The PH-242 comes with a large platform ideal for heavy and large equipment and will be more than adequate for any binocular that I have used. According to the manufacturers the maximum loading capacity is 6.6lbs or 3kg’s and it had no problem holding a spotting scope, binoculars or my Panasonic DMC Lumix Digital Camera that I used during my tests for this review.
Not Just Windows
Whilst most people refer to this and other similar clamps as a “window clamp”, it can be used in far more places than just the window of your car. The jaws of the clamp extend to 1.6in (42 mm) meaning that it can be mounted onto many objects including fences, tree branches, deck rails and more. I only wish I had one at the last safari lodge I was working at, where it would have been ideal to use on the balcony overlooking the waterhole where plenty of Africa’s finest wildlife would congregate.
Even though it is a little on the heavy site, it is still fairly compact meaning that is a lot easier to carry around than a tripod and you could use it on walks as it can easily be clamped to branches or fence posts for example.
The “non-slip” hard rubber material on the clamp faces work well and I had no problem in feeling that my expensive camera and telephoto lens was be safe to most things I attached it to.
Two-Way Pan Head
The PH-242 comes with a two-way fluid Pan Head which means it can pan left and right a full 360° and move up and down or tilt it from +90° to about -60° which makes it ideal for binoculars, spotting scopes and video use.
You can of course also use it with your camera although it will not tilt the 90° to enable you to shoot portrait photos. If you are planning to use it mostly for photography and often shoot in portrait, I would suggest using one of Vanguard’s ball heads (PH-230, PH-250) or their three-way pan heads (PH-304, PH-222)
The movement on my sample was very smooth and locking or unlocking it to move is very simply done by twisting the pan handle.
Cost & Where to Buy
The Vanguard PH-242 Pan Head Clamp/Mount costs around $70 in the US and about £80 in the UK. This means that it sits at the mid to top of the range. Vanguard as well as other manufacturers make cheaper as well as more expensive models: