Photography by J.D. Magers

I need some help please

Added on by J.D. Magers.

My wife has told me that I can pick out a new tripod for my Christmas gift.  Cha-ching!  What I have currently is a Slik 9000 Aluminum tripod that my brother in law gave me when I was first starting out.  That was back in 2006.  It doesn't have a ball head on it, so when I use it I have to screw the camera onto the 1/4" screw on the head plate.  Not the best scenario I know, but it has worked until now.  But the thing is heavy, and because it is made of aluminum it gets really cold in the winter time.  So cold in fact it hurts to pick it up.  Basically I'm tired of this thing, and I want a new one.

However, I'm not sure what I should be looking for.  This article from Adorama wasn't very useful.  I know I want it to be made of carbon fiber and come with a ball head, and I know I want it cost less than $500.00.  I will be using it for landscape work, and portrait/still life work in my basement.  It needs to be fully adaptable to either situation.  Basically what I am thinking though, is the tripod needs to be stable as low as possible to the ground (like 18 inches close to the ground).  I'm wondering if more or fewer leg sections is what is needed for this type of shooting, and does the center column need to not be there?  I've read varying opinions on the usefulness of the center column.  Weight is a consideration, but it is lower on the priority list, as well as folded length.  Although if I am going to take it with me on trips, maybe those should be considerations.

Does anyone have any opinions on manufacturer?  What about the number of leg sections, and like I mentioned, center columns?  I want to hear varying opinions on this topic to not only inform me (because as you can tell, I'm kind of confused), but to inform anyone else that might be in the market.  

Could you do me a favor please, and leave a comment on this post telling me about your experiences with tripods, and what you looked for when you purchased yours?  I would really appreciate it.  Thank you so much...