Giottos MTL9361B + MH1311-652 head - £160 (about $250)
Quality components and clever design combine in the aluminium Giottos MTL9361B tripod. Its maximum load rating is a hefty 8kg, so we teamed it up with the heavy-duty Giottos MH 1311-652 ball-and-socket head, which actually has an even higher load rating of 10kg.
The three-section legs have comfort padding on the top sections and feature dependable clip-locks. Build quality is excellent, with great stability even at the class-leading maximum height of 190cm, with
the centre column fully extended.
There's a bubble level on the tripod collar for easy levelling, and two spirit levels in the ball-and-socket head, which has friction adjustment and separate panning lock.
The Giottos spoils you for choice in terms of low-level shooting. As well as quick access to three leg angles, you can invert or pivot the centre column, the latter operating through a complete 180-degree range.
And if you dislike the thought of using your camera upside-down, just remove the centre column completely and use the stubby low-angle adaptor instead, although this does require detaching the platform from the centre column and refitting it to the adaptor, using the supplied allen key.