I have considered/postponed/procrastinated the purchase of a tripod for about two years now (posted a thread here over a year ago), and I think I am nearing the end (luckily it hasn't been two years of endless, constant research).
The brand I decided on is Gitzo.
One can only have two out of three things in a tripod, ditching the third; light, stable, cheap. So I dropped the latter.
After looking at the tripodchart at Gitzo's, I am down to three to five (having eliminated non-CFs (CF = Carbon Fibre), those with more than 20 cm. as minimum height, four-sectioned ones, and ones where maximum height didn't seem to be high enough, and ones without centrecoloumn):
Mountaineer first: There is only a nine cm. difference between the 1531's maximum height of 155 cm, and the 3531's of 164 cm. But the weight-difference is of almost one kilogram. Granted; the 3531 can take 10 kilograms more load (18 vs 8), but maximum load is not a problem for me (maximum would be a very/unnecessarily large head, 400D w/BG-E3 and 100 mm f/2.8 macro. Combined weight: Low. Lower than 8 kilograms... right?).
Do those nine centimetres make a lot of difference? I measured my eyeheight, and it seems to be at around 163-163 centimetres, but when out and about I'll be wearing boots and stuff, and I still have plans of growing a bit, so...
Maybe I should just go for the 2531; 161 centimetres (3 less than 3531) and 1,37 kilograms (270 grams more than 1531).
Then the other two: The leveling seems very nice; being able to fine-tune the levelling without fiddling with the legs (which, admittedly, is supposed to be so much less of a hassle with the G-lock.).
The Explorer is commended for being very flexible and fast to set up (pretty big plus), but people complain that, due to being very flexible in how you set the legs steplessly, it is difficult to get it to a standard setting, which one could need very often (don't know about me tho..).
One very cool thing about it is this:
found here though.
OK, but what does he take pictures of? Birds? Citylife? Landscapes? Nasal hair?
Well, a lot of different stuff. Not really a big fan of landscapes, but that might be because I haven't really had the option of doing pans (yes, you can do them handheld, but right now for example, I'm spending a year in the north of Norway. That's above the polar circle. Yep; haven't seen the sun for a couple of weeks. Pretty important light for landscapes, or so I've heard )
I shoot macro, so a tripod is going to be good.
Some long-shutter of water in motion is probably going to be on my list.
But no long lenses (like I said; longest focal-length 100 mm, at least now. And bird-photography isn't something that interests me a lot. At least not for the moment).
So; which one why?