My Current Tripods and Ballheads:
Gitzo GT 3530 LS Carbon Fiber tripod: Though folks will have their favorites and preferences for tripods, this tripod is my work horse. It is a three section carbon fiber tripod with no center column. It weighs 4.7 lbs which is substantial enough to hold up in a stiff wind. There is also a center hook for securing a sand bag or other weight for more stability. I am only 5’6″ so this tripod is plenty tall enough for me, even when extending the legs on uneven terrain. I also have covered the legs with Lens Coat covers for comfort in cold weather and for protection of my shoulder when carrying the tripod. Cost: $680.00
Benro C-2691 Travel Angel tripod: I spent a lot of time researching a small lightweight, but sturdy tripod and settled on the Benron C-2691. The Benro weigh 3.8lbs which might seem like a lot, but it also comes with a nice B1 Arco Swiss ballhead. The tripod is carbon fiber and folds down to an easily packable 17.7″. It also has a nice storage carrying case with strap. I have taken this tripod on long day hikes in the Smoky Mountains. Though obviously not as sturdy as a full frame tripod this is an excellent solution for hiking, traveling or taking anywhere you might want go off the beaten path. I love this tripod. Cost: $536.00
Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead: This is the main ballhead used by most photographers. There are some lighter ballheads, but this is the best all round ballhead for most general purpose needs. As with all Really Right Stuff products it is extremely well made and will last a lifetime. Without a good tripod and ballhead, it is tough to get really sharp images. One piece of advice learned the hard way, buy the best tripod and ballhead that you can afford right out of the gate. Because if you are really serious about photography, either as an avid amateur or professional, you will eventually end up with a carbon fiber tripod and a really good ballhead. So save yourself those first few hundred dollars and put it towards a setup that will last you a life time.
Whimberly WH-200 Whimberly head: I have a Nikkor 600mm lens that weighs a little over 11 lbs. It is a monster lens and I do not know how I would control this lens without this Whimberly head. With this ballhead my camera and 600mm lens is easily balanced and is a pleasure to use whether panning or following a subject vertically or horizontally. With any large lens, this Gimbal ballhead makes using such a lens a pleasure. Cost: $595.00
Visual Echoes Panning Ground Pod: There are several ground pods on the market. I chose this one based on reading the reviews by Arthur Morris and Moose Peterson who use this tripod. As Moose suggest, go to PetSmart and get one of their dog frisbees. The panning plate fits snuggly inside the frisbee and helps keep the panning plate out of the sand. I also drilled a small hole and attached a D-ring so that I can hook the system to my backpack or belt loop. The Ground Pod pans with a little bit of stiffness, but this stiffness actually works to your advantage with a larger lens. Cost: $129.00
Really Right Stuff B 150-B Macro Focusing Rail: If you like to do macro photography, this focusing rail will help tremendously. I have found that when I am really close to an image with a macro lens and perhaps and extension tube or two, it is hard to get sharp focus while using manual focus. If I use the focusing rail, I can fine tune the focus in micro increments with a touch of the adjustment screws. The focusing rail takes a lot of frustration out of macro photography. As with any Really Right Stuff product this is extremely well made and the function and engineering is superb. Cost: $345.00