I know there are MANY tripod threads, but...

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... I don't know enough about them to know what applies to what I want to do. I can and will learn enough to make a smart buy, I just need some help jump-starting my research.

My priority, for the time being, is price. I'm on a STRICT budget, so I want the most tripod I can get for the fewest dollars. I don't think I'll use it too often, and when I do, it will be for static shots (no need for making quick adjustments to the tripod).

I, of course, want to stretch my dollar as far as it will go and get a great value.

I have a D7000, at the moment, I only have the 18-105mm kit lens, so weight is minimal, but I have access to some heavier glass (my parents have an 70 or 80-400mm I use from time to time that is fairly hefty, but it also has a lens-mount bracket to mount to the tripod).

Thanks in advance!
 
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You should be able to find something fairly reasonable if you're not using anything like super teles. Just add up your max weight, add ~30% for safe measure, then go to the really right stuff website. A bit pricey but you won't find better quality.
 
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Price is the primary concern? Assuming you want something that you won't be immediately frustrated by, go to eBay and find an old Gitzo aluminum 400 series (410, 411, etc) and buy it. They're heavy, but you can use it as an axle stand in a pinch! I bought one for a hundred bucks 15 years ago with leg pads and still use it today. You can find much lighter pods, but none sturdier and more economical at the same time.
 

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"Cheap" and "Good Quality" never seems to co-exist in this hobby of ours. If I were in your shoes, I'd just buy a regular, $60 panhead tripod from Best Buy or something. I've had experience buying a cheap ball-head tripod from eBay and though it worked for the most part, I was always scared that the ballhead would fail me one day and drop my camera. Not to mention, once you lock it in position, it sort of creeps down with the weight of the camera. Not too reliable if you ask me. So I bought a used Manfrotto with a metal ball-head from Craigslist for more money and have been happy with it since.

Try as much as you can to save up for a really good one. It's the sort of thing that you only buy once and never upgrade.
 
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Buy quality once. It is always cheaper in the long run.
Shop used.
Don't be afraid of wood.
Tiltall, made in New Jersey.
 
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I read that Bythom article years ago and bought a nice $800 setup. Don't forget about the plates and L brackets that are needed in the arca system. That adds up as well.

Found out that I really don't use a tripod much at all.

After two years and a half dozen times used I sold it and invested in a used Manfrotto 055/488 RC2.

Build quality is pretty good. It's clearly outclassed across the board(ball-head may slip a tad with something heavy, not lightweight, not as smooth, etc.) but for the casual user it's not a bad combo.
 
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I'm with John. I've got three Manfrotto tripods. My 3021BPro is the sturdiest, and it will support my gripped D700 and 300 2.8. That's about the heaviest lens I plan on using, so it suits my purposes just fine. I spent about $125 on it, used. I spent about $300 on an Arca Swiss B1 monoball head, also used. I feel that the head is the weak link in a setup, so I didn't compromise. I've never had any problems with any of my tripods, and have never given any serious thought to upgrading to the Gitzo line.
 
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....find an old Gitzo aluminum 400 series (410, 411, etc) and buy it. They're heavy, but you can use it as an axle stand in a pinch! I bought one for a hundred bucks 15 years ago with leg pads and still use it today. You can find much lighter pods, but none sturdier and more economical at the same time.

Exactly my thoughts! I've never had a Gitzo wear out, and a 20 year old "beater" that works well will be the best investment you ever make. And if it doesn't work properly, you should be able to buy the parts to make it work as new.
 
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The head is the critical part.
If you buy a ball head, you will want a 3-way head.
If you buy a 3-way head, you will want a ball head.
Two heads are better than one.
 
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As Mark mentioned his Manfrotto 3021 Pro tripod, I will also mention
this would be a very good choice for what you are describing. Not very
expensive if you can locate a used one. And fairly sturdy...
 
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I read that Bythom article years ago and bought a nice $800 setup. Don't forget about the plates and L brackets that are needed in the arca system. That adds up as well.

Found out that I really don't use a tripod much at all.

After two years and a half dozen times used I sold it and invested in a used Manfrotto 055/488 RC2.

Build quality is pretty good. It's clearly outclassed across the board(ball-head may slip a tad with something heavy, not lightweight, not as smooth, etc.) but for the casual user it's not a bad combo.

I've used a similar Manfrotto combo with everything up to a nd including D300 with 300mm f/2.8, and as light as a D50 with Sigma 70-300mm. There is a bit of slippage when the loads get unbalanced, but one quickly learns how to estimate and adjust to get the view and focal point you want. At a price 1/6th that of the "recommended brands" this is a much better value, in my view. Unless you are a birder, it is all you need for now.....and fits your criteria of being economical.
 
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I'll add that whatever you get make sure it is tall enough without raising the column. A raised column kills you even on a Gitzo. The shorter the tripod the smaller the base spread of the legs is. I had a nice Velbon (for the $$) but had to extend the column 10' or more to make it high enough for me. I believe if you sneezed you could blow it over! Somewhere between 52 and 56 inches without the column up works for most people. GH
 
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Thanks for all the tips guys. I decided to go with the "Buy one that will do for now and save up for a good one" route.

I picked up a new Giottos at my local Camera shop (total impulse buy, it was $69, nice light aluminum, with a twist-to-lock/release handle for the head). I'm sure its going to give me a headache here and there, but so far, its great with my lightweight D7K/18-105mm setup.

And those who see my other thread, NO, my tripod did not drop my camera! LOL

I did that all on my own.
 
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my $0.02:

save up a little and buy a quality tripod.

my Manfrotto 055 and #222 head are still kicking 16 years after i bought them.
 

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