I currently have the Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod, 498RC2 Midi Ball Head & 200PL-14 QR Plate. I was very satisfied with this setup when I had the entry level equipment but in time I started to buy heavier lenses, most probably will add the 1Dx to my gear list later, so decided to buy a better ballhead. I'm happy with the tripod, it's sturdy and does the job well, I'll continue using it.
What I want is a ballhead with a quick release plate. I loved the logic of my Manfrotto about how flexible they produce their products. I was able to use their plate with every of my equipment. Getting it off a camera and installing to another one was too easy, no extra equipment needed.
I want a reliable product, I don't want to put thousands of dollars of equipment to be hanging on an insecure ballhead.
I want precision. I got used to easily lock my camera to the 3 dimension position with a switch, so ballhead it is. So what I want is a ballhead that'll keep the point where I lock it, that's all
I guess I'll never go for lets say 600mm 800mm lenses. So max weight will not be over 4 kg I guess.
500$ is the limit for both the ballhead and the plate.
Sorry to start such thread. I checked the forum a bit, especially the FAQ thread, but many of the topics are like 7-8 years old. There must be a lot of alternates out by this time. I also continue my research but your advises will be really helpful to give me a starting point.