[quote=Dehowie,reply=5]Save yourself money in the long term by buying the best in the first place..
Very good advice;
Matteo; I was in just about the same situation a few years back; wanted a great tripod, didn't want to "go broke" buying it. Here's what I did; I got on eBay, and I looked and looked and I looked; there are bargains to be had on eBay, but they don't "fall into your lap"........you have to work at it; mainly by just doggedly watching what ever it is you want, every day til you find it. I wanted a Gitzo; would LOVE to have a CF model, but couldn't afford it, so I watched all aluminum Gitzo's; finally found what I wanted............thing was 20 yrs old, but it spent those 20 yrs sitting in a closet ! The seller had very high quality photos of it; it looked like new. I made my bid, and got my tripod; it's not the heaviest model they made, but just below it; three section legs ( which I definitely advise, much steadier ) When it arrived, if the seller had said the thing was brand new and never used, I wouldn't have known otherwise ! It is absolutely MINT ! Most gorgeous silvery-grey ( hate to call it paint, it's so beautiful ) Gitzo makes superlative products; as Dehowie says, there is none better.
I forget exactly what I gave for it, but is was about 1/4 the cost of a new one like it. The thing is like having your camera on a rock !
Now I needed a top drawer ball head; there are a lot of them out there, but as far as I'm concerned, there is always a No. 1; My son had bought a new Arca-Swiss B-1 BH
a few years before, and after working with it, I had to have one; it was even harder to find than the Gitzo; did a whole lot of looking, bid on a bunch, ( boy am I glad I missed all of those ! )
I finally found EXACTLY what I was looking for; a seller in the UK had the thing, said it was "like new", in the box, and it looked PERFECT ! But at the time, I had never bought anything from an overseas seller, and I didn't want to risk sending someone a bunch of bucks, and not get my item; so I emailed the seller.......asked if he would ship it C.O.D. ?
He said he would be happy to........we exchanged a few emails........long story short.......the man turned out to be one of the absolute finest people I have ever met in my life ! I won the bid on the B-1 for 180 "pounds" (if you know anything about English money; to say it was a bargain would be a huge "understatement"; it was NEW
! I don't think Tony ever took 6 photos with it; looked like it had never been opened. BTW........at the time, the B-1 sold at B&H in NYC for $498, and were on back-order most of the time; I had seen several of them sell used for more than new price !
Why is this head "so good" ? Several reasons; first, it's very light, but it has a "will support" weight of 40 pounds !
The locking mechanism is sooooooo velvety smooth, you barely touch it, and my huge Nikon F-5 film body, with a 80-200 / f 2.8 Nikkor zoom attached is SOLID as a rock; ( heavy camera, and a fairly long, fairly heavy lens.
Something else few people ever even think about; say you have about $ 3,500 worth of body & lens sitting on that big ball, and you don't lock it quite tight enough; with most ball heads, here's what CAN
happen..........the whole works can fall sideways into the "cut-out", and can bang very hard into the tripod, ( which is very hard on expensive cameras & lenses ); but the B-1 has an "aspheric" ball...........the ball is just a few thousandths out of spherical, from top to bottom; so if it isn't quite tight, it only "falls" a few degrees, tightens up, ( due to the "slight out of roundness" of the ball, and the camera stops, WAY before it hits bottom ! It doesn't happen often, should never happen if you are very careful, but it only needs to happen 1 time, to really "spoil your whole day" !'
I am not trying to "boast" about my equipment here, I am merely trying to make a point; high-end, top flight equipment CAN
be had, on "the cheap"...........if you are willing to study the market, and really work at searching out the bargains. It CAN
be done; it isn't always easy, but it can be done;
When I got my Gitzo, it was so pretty and new looking, I wanted a good carry bag for it; in this case.......forget Gitzo; they cost a MINT, and say GITZO in huge letters; ( I don't want to advertise to thieves that I have a valuable tripod they can steal ); back to eBay........got a very nice bag from a fellow who imports them from China, it's very well made, well padded, fits perfect, ( and only cost me about $ 25, brand new ! ) I bought my D 300s new, but saved about $ 400 on it by getting it from a small camera dealer in Canada, so it has a Canadian warranty; ( which is OK
with me ) Here's a funny story; I bought this fantastic new chest-mount pack for my D 300s ( from Amazon, which I love ); the thing is made so that you can mount a small ball head on top of it, and it's almost as good as being on a tripod; anyway, I decided to buy me a small, inexpensive ball head to put on it; The head LOOKS fine; ( but I'm "accustomed" to using my Arca B-1.......hey, once you use one, you'll be spoiled too ! Anyway, I put the head on, played around with it for an hour or so, took it back off............and stuck it out in my garage ! Now I have my B-1 on my chest pack when I want to shoot where tripods can't be used. At the end of the day, if all you want to do is save money, I can tell you the best way I know of..........forget all about photography, and take up tiddly-winks ! Because photography has never been, isn't now, and never will be "cheap" ! ( But as we all know, its FUN ! )
P.S. I almost forgot.......you mentioned having an interest in doing panoramas...........forget pan-tilt heads; either a ball head ( or a gimble type head a ) is the only way to go; the B-1 was actually MADE for "pano" work.
Stupidity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result; Albert Einstein