Okay, I will admit I slightly mislead you with the title, but that's because there are so many "tripod help" threads out there I needed something catchy so that the people who are sick of them actually will read this ... My situation is the following: I have some great gear, and up this year for improvement is my tripod. I'm probably one of the only folks who's shot a wedding with $10k of equipment on a $35 tripod (last Sept.). My needs in a tripod are several: (1) Light and Short (when collapsed): I travel a fair amount and want to be able to pack this in my carry-on or walk around with it on my backpack. (2) Sturdy: This should be a no-brainer, but, yeah sturdy, especially given ... (3) Needs to Work for Astrophotography: I'm in the mood for 2°-60°+ wide-field astrophotography these days, THIS IS NOT FOR A TELESCOPE. (4) Needs to Be Good, General-Purpose Yes, I have read the article that everyone links to by Thom Hogan. For (1), I'm looking at two different legs, the Gitzo GT-2531 and the GT-2541. I'm leaning towards the 2531 because of price, max. height, and stability with 3 leg segments instead of 4, but the 2541 collapses to more than 3.5" shorter. Both are carbon fiber. Anything I haven't thought of there in the difference between the two? Anything comparable in other brands that I didn't look at due to Thom's article? For (3), I'm going to be purchasing the AstroTrac TT320X which is about the cheapest good tracking system I can get that's actually portable and has periodic errors of just a few arcsec over the course of 10+ minutes. I don't expect advice from folks here to this end, it's more of a statement so that you know my situation. Because of the tracking system, I will need to purchase two heads . At least one will be a ball head, and I would like to avoid creep (that's what it's called - right? - where you position the camera and then you tighten the head and it moves slightly?). I'm looking at a few. One is the Kirk BH-3, and another is the Arca-Swiss Z1 sp. But then I need another head, and due to the way you set up a tracking mount, a 3-way panning head would probably be easier to use. On the AstroTrac site, they happen to use the Manfrotto 410, though I noted that the Manfrotto 808RC4 is $80 cheaper and can support 3 kg more. In terms of weight, I have at least my 7D body, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens, a second head, and the AstroTrac that the first head needs to support. From my math, that's 0.8+1.6+0.5+1.1 = 4kg at least. Hence, getting a head that's rated at 5kg is kinda pushing it. Note that both of the legs I listed above support 12kg. Now, as for budget ... The AstroTrac system is going to cost nearly $1k alone (£600 because they trick you and say the system is £500 but when you put in your order, you automatically order the polar alignment 'scope for £100 more which is required to use it). I was really hoping to get in at under $1600 total, but I don't think that's going to happen. The AstroTrac plus tripod legs alone already are just $50 shy of that and I need two heads in addition. That said, I really am looking to not spend a whole heck of a lot more. So ... any advice here on yet another "tripod help" thread?