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| p.1 #2 · Best tripod sub $500 and head sub $300 |
It is easy to spend more than your stated limits. I tried a Feisol tripod but sent it back. I am very happy with my Induro CT 213 tripod and it costs less than your tripod limit. I bought a Acratech GV2 head, which is a little more than your stated limit, but it is a very good ball head that doubles as a gimbal head (arguably not the best gimbal, but OK).
This is a relatively light combo that will support your camera/lens combo and won't break the bank. I may get the heaviest duty RRS tripod and head someday, but for now, this really meets my needs.
I have become a big fan of the Induro tripods. I did buy one of their ball heads, but that it wasn't very smooth, at least my copy wasn't, and it too went back. I also really like the Acratech ball head and its unique open design. It has a smaller knob to fine tune the friction in addition to the knob that locks it down. You can set the fredom of movement where you like it and then lock it up tight with the bigger knob.
My next tripod will be the Induro 314 with some kind of gimbal head like the Jobu Jr. Deluxe. Different tripods and heads for different jobs, but not bigger and heavier than they have to be. Big enough, and solid enough to get the job done, but no bigger.