I purchased a new tripod and ballhead the other day.
Legs: 190CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod
http://www.adorama.com/BG190CXPRO3.html ... &item_no=1
Head: 468MGRC2 Hydrostatic ballhead
http://www.adorama.com/BG468MGRC2.html? ... &item_no=1
I upgraded from the 785B tripod/head combo. It was sufficient early on for some tasks, but quickly it showed it's limitations.
After almost having my camera fall a few times due to it not being able to hold the weight of the body and lens, I resolved to upgrade. I figured I'd rather spend the money to get a tripod and head that could do all the tasks I wanted from it than put the same amount or more into replacing a lens or camera that breaks from insufficient support. It took time to save up and alot of analysis but I am happy with the combo I bought.
Going from a ballhead that barely holds 3 lbs to one that is rated at 22+ lbs is night and day. The hydrostatic mechanism is very smooth and easy to lock with minimal effort and holds and holds. I used to be afraid to put my camera in portrait orientation with my other tripod, now I can put my heaviest lens on my camera with a flash and can pick up the tripod and hold it at any angle I want with no fear of it budging even an inch.
Make no mistake, it's not a cheap ballhead but having something that gives peace of mind along with smooth performance, panning base, friction control and ease of use is worth the pennies you save up.
The tripod legs are the 3 section carbon fiber legs with the Quick Column system that Bogen has started to use. When the center column is extended, you can press a button to rotate it 90 degrees to rest horizontally and give a twist of a knob to lock it in place. This gives some enhanced compositional abilities and also allows the tripod to get very close to the ground without having to actually remove any component of the tripod. It's a neat mechanic, but due to it moving the center of gravity away from the center of the tripod you have to be aware that the tripod can tip if the weight is too heavy hanging out to the side. You can still move the center column and bring the head of the tripod close to the center of the tripod to help counter-balance, or hang a weight off the other end of the column. Of course, the wider of an angle you spread the legs the more stable of a platform you have.
All in all, these are still first impressions. Weather is too cold and miserable out to do much shooting in the wilderness but when it warms up I will be out there and getting a more genuine idea of what this set can do. I eagerly await that day!
Regardless however, I decided to overspend now to prevent having to spend in the future. I feel like I have left myself a large amount of room to grow with the tripod and should have a set that lasts me a loooong time.
I'll try to update with some photos and more impressions as I use the combo. If anyone has any specific questions to ask me about these products, feel free to post in the thread or shoot me a private tell.