theabortionatorI can't buy the best of everything just because it's better.
One school of thought when it comes to video stabilization (especially something as surprisingly finicky as tripods) is that it is not a sliding scale. Meaning that a $300 tripod does not simply function less well
, while still doing the job. It's more of a binary thing: either it works or it doesn't. If it isn't rock solid, it completely loses its value and has zero use.
The other school of thought is that tripod value is non-binary, meaning that a $500 tripod is "$200 nicer" than a $300 tripod. It's a sliding scale that you can navigate to your budget's desire while putting up with any concessions in quality given the price.
People in the latter camp are almost always inexperienced shooters, because they don't yet have a practical frame of reference grounded in personal experience.
theabortionatorsometimes I think people forget that not everyone is a pro in whatever area.
I don't think anyone is confused about this.
In other threads the people asking about tripods usually mean to make money off of doing so, and from a business perspective it is stupid to have this conversation at all because even a sliver of sensible judgement would steer a person away from acquiring a depreciating asset that would cost more to use and replace than its generated value could cover (meaning that you lose money by virtue of simply owning it). Hence any perceived "hate" you might have encountered. But that has nothing to do with you...
You're a hobbiest. You are willing to make concessions for the sake of not spending a lot of money. We get that. My point is not that you should buy a nice tripod, but that you're fundamentally underestimating the price range in which bad tripods are manufactured. $800 is considered a cheap tripod, and a $300 tripod is often just as crappy as a $50 one. I'm saying that if you plan on subjecting your tripod to the mountainous elements, then its value is binary.
If it isn't good, it's bad and not worth the scrap that it's built with.
If you're shooting telephoto (which you likely are if you're shooting anything in the mountains), simply pressing record will make your camera bounce. This is fine if you don't plan on making any movements, or changing focus, or zooming. But if you do, then the image will become a bunch of amorphous streaks anytime you are even touching the camera. On top of this, friction heads don't really work when they're cold. So you can't make a consistent pant or tilt even if you were to somehow stop the legs from vibrating every time a breeze passes through. This is what all cheap tripods do, and given that you can get better results from handholding, it's fair to say that any device this bad is essentially worthless.
$500 is not even close to the ballpark of a nice tripod, and is firmly in the "cheapest you can possibly go without flushing your money away" range. It used to be that you had to spend at least $1,000 just to get something that simply worked
without having to shoot multiple takes and picking the best one. When the Sachtler Ace was released, it pushed that hurdle down to ~$700, and now they can easily be found for $400 used, while shooting more like a $1,000+ tripod minus the cast-iron durability. Last I checked, it was literally the only tripod under $1,000 that actually worked well enough to justify not leaving it in your car. If that's still more than you want to spend, that's totally understandable. But again, if we take that one off the table, your best bet is to find some used one on ebay for $50. Resting your camera on your knee will give you about the same results as the crap that people are recommending here (and you wouldn't have to carry any extra gear).
Bottom line: I'm humbly suggesting that you be frugal rather than cheap.