There are a lot of crappy camera tripods out there, made cheaply, that pass themselves off as useable. They’re not.
They are mostly lightweight piles of plastic junk that are a waste your valuable money.
My recommendation? Get a Slik PRO 330 DX. I owned and used for years the previous model until it disappeared to New Mexico with a friend, and I just bought the new updated model. It’s essentially the same tripod, so I’m excited that I can do some night photography again.
The primary reason I love this tripod is because it isn’t a plastic piece of junk. It has a solid metal head, with aluminium alloy legs, and if you take care of it, it will last for years.
The head, although not “pro”, is suitable enough that you’re never going to hate it. It’s sturdy and smooth, and will handle your SLR confindently and securely, without slipping. The quick release plate is very sturdy. It also has a vertical tilt handle in addition to the pan & tilt handle, which makes it easy to adjust.
While I don’t like the fact that this new one is lighter than my old one, which is an issue I think people mostly misunderstand, the potential downfall for that is made up for by the fact that it has quick release legs now instead of the old twisty screw knob-type. This makes the tripod much more user friendly and faster to set up and adjust.
To explain the weight issue, everyone wants light tripods because they have to carry them around. But extra weight means more stability, especially in windy conditions. Stability is the entire purpose of a tripod to begin with, so if you’re not a wussy and want images that are sharper, get a manly one. This tripod, it’s fair to say, straddles that line nicely, providing sufficient stability without being cumbersome.
The Slik tripod here isn’t the cheapest, compared to Wallmart cheap, but it’s not expensive either. At about $100, it’s a significantly better investment than any other tripod in that range.
All things being said, if you’re interested in doing photography, do yourself a favor and don’t skimp on your tripod. The Slick PRO 330DX is in my opinion the best initial investment you can make if you’re a beginner or enthusiast and you want to get serious about your art. This will start you off on a nice foundation, and still give you room to grow.