Hello fellow artro photography adventurers, I've recently been having some minor issues with my faithful three legged companion (AKA my tripod), we've been on many adventures together.... I've dropped it off a cliff (by accident) it's saved me from falling in the mud when crossing bogs many times over and it's served me faithfully for almost 10 years now without any issues. recently though it's started to get a bit creaky, the locking mechanisms on the legs are stiff and difficult to close and it's gotten a bit wobbly and not as rock solid as it used to be which is making my starscapes suffer due to sharpness issues so it looks like I'm in the market for a new tripod, a simple enough task I though to myself. Wow how wrong I was there, I can't believe how many new companies there are making tripods now and there are so many mixed reviews about performance... I'm so lost and confused and I'm not sure where to look for what I need so I thought the best thing to do would be to go straight to the source and ask everyone what your using, do you like it and does it suit your needs?
I personally need something very solid but still light enough to hike into the mountains and climb up cliffs with, it needs to have dirt resistant joints as I drag my gear through the swamps and I frequently get sticky mud on everything as I use the tripod as leverage to cross streams and bogs so me and my camera gear don't fall over in the drink, I also go the the beach a lot so fine sand and salt is also an issue as well as corrosion so metal is a bad idea. On top of that I would love to be able to remove the center cross brace and center pole so the tripod can go down very low to the ground, a hook on the center pole so a sand weight or my camera bag could be hooked to add extra stability would also be great. I've looked at a few options that have all these qualities but I'm not certain about their stability so this is where your real world advice comes in, please let me know what your using or have used in the past that you liked, do you prefer carbon fiber, aluminum or something else, what other features should I be looking into?
I'm really looking for advice on top of the line tripods, I'm not made of money though so it has to be under $500Au if at all possible. I'm really liking a company called Vanguard but I'm concerned about the twist lock legs on their models... I feel they are a dirt sucking disaster just waiting to happen so any advice, thoughts or feelings on the twist lock design would be most appreciated as I've always used the clip lock type tripods and never had any issues with those but I've heard horror stories about the twist ones.