Thank you for your advice. It is very helpful.

I'm not looking for anything to be used in extreme conditions and I'm not a frequent traveler/hiker so I think Gitzo and carbon fiber tripods are not my best value choices.

I'll look more into Manfrotto aluminum tripods and different head options. I figured that I would go with a ball head because they're a little slimmer so have a portability advantage but the advantage gained in this aspect doesn't seem much. I'll look more into this.