Upload & Sell: Off
Curtis, I understand your reticence to step into the world of tripods .... it's well and truly confusing if your budget is limited.
You asked what I use, well this may come as a surprise, and then again maybe not.
I use a couple of carbon Gitzo tripods (no, not at the same time) One (a G1228) is used for a Leica Televid 82 scope, awesome piece of kit.
The other I use for my long lenses, again a Gitzo but the G1258 both have off-centre ball heads on them with QR plates. The only reason I can afford such luxury is that I work part-time for a camera shop who only sell Leica. Some times items are traded in against Leica lenses etc, and that means I can purchase them at an advantageous price point.
I noticed a trend towards discussing the hardware that people are using too. To be fair, I do think that whatever you are using is something you have to be happy with, and these days it almost certainly has to be 64 bit processing.
Personally I use apple products and have done for many years. But an older IBM ad campaign for the AS/400 system sums up my feelings on processors. Taken with 55mm Micro @f8 ISO200 1/100th
Or is it 64 butts, no bits ???