Hey all, I currently have an el-cheapo, not-really-a-camera-tripod that was given to me some years ago. Although I don't shoot off the tripod all that much, I do it just enough that I'm thinking it's time for me to upgrade to the real deal. I'm trying to follow Thom Hogan's maxim about buying right the first time so it's only expensive versus horridly expensive overall. The times I've used a tripod, it's generally been for wide-angle stuff. I don't have any interest in birding, so the biggest lens I can conceive ever owning would be on the scale of the Nikkor 80-400 - or let's say the 70-200 f/2.8, with perhaps a teleconverter, to be safe. I don't currently have either, and my next lens purchase will likely be the 24-70 f/2.8 (so the long lens purchase is a ways off). So here are my (probably uninformed) questions: - If I'm not going to do a lot of backcountry travelling, what would be the downside of saving a couple hundred bucks and buying, say, Gitzo's aluminum alloy legs versus carbon fiber? - Is the ballhead-to-legs connection standardized, or do brand X legs have to go only with brand Y ballheads? - Other than the legs and some brand of ballhead (well, and camera plates of course), are there other required pieces to this puzzle? I will admit to being intrigued by the Acratech ballheads. Thanks for any help/instruction you can provide!