When i was tripod shopping i was also paralyzed by all the details - some easy to qualify others not so easy....
I narrowed down to CF pretty quickly - it was almost a no-brainer for me. Mountain hiking with an RB67 Pro-S adds a fair bit of weight and a sturdy non-CF tripod was out of the question. So, i started researching CF tripod manufacturers. I read a lot of praise for Gitzo, but also a common failure as others here have mentioned - leg separation from the "spider". For the price of the Gitzo - ~$500 and up - that was out of the question.
The Really Right Stuff CF tripods look utterly awe inspiring, but i'm not able to splash out $1,000 for my hobby right now. I looked at Induro/Benro, Manfrotto and others, but Feisol had the best reputation at the best price point for the things i wanted in a tripod.
Feisol CF tripods are around $200-$250 less expensive than comparable Gitzo models, have an excellent warranty and reasonably the same performance level. So, i choose the Feisol "Tournament Series" CT-3342 "traditional leg" 'pod for ~$289 and bought a used middle-of-the-road Manfrotto ballhead (496RC2) from KEH for (iirc) $80. This combination, @ less than $400, is lightweight and plenty stout to hold my Pro-S and 180mm lens in all sorts of strange positions and varying wind conditions. I didn't buy a center column and a $3 plastic flash-mount, 3-way level off $bay is lighter, easier to use and wayyyyy cheaper than any leveling plate so i was able to save some cash there. I did splurge on the long spike feet as i photograph in all sorts of weather and conditions and they work very well.
I hope this helps and doesn't add to the circle of confusion.
Last edited by fmajor; 12-29-2012 at 03:20 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: price additions