The confusion of tripod shopping

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sbw123 Regular Member • Posts: 145
The confusion of tripod shopping

There seems to be thousands of different tripods, some come with ball heads, some don't, some have center columns, some don't. Some of the center columns can be extended/rotated horizontal to the ground, some can't.  Some legs can be spread so that the camera is nearly one the ground, some can't.

Then there's the ball heads. Some ball heads are small, some are big.  Some rotate to portrait mode, some don't.  Some have a lot of knobs, some have one.  Some have arca swiss plates (sp?) some don't.

How is one to make head or tales out of any of this when tripod shopping?  it seems like if you know the desirable height and weight that is supported, the rest is a crap shoot.

What's the point of the arca swiss plate v. a non-area swiss plate?

Why buy a tripod with or without a ball head?  If tripod model "A" can be purchased with or without a ball head, is the ball head that comes with model "A" typically "lower end" than purchasing separately?

Having purchased what I thought was a "nice" name brand tripod in the past where the ball head and leg locks slip and, what should be looked for to ensure that the ball head will remain firmly in place when tightened down?

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