I got the Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod for christmas and I am having fun with all the features.
Why start on this part? because it has a Q90 horizontal column feature. This allows the tripod to reach extremely low positions, reaching ground level easily for unusual perspectives and stunning macro shots. There is a button at the bottom of the column that allows you to transition between horizontal and vertical use. The only complaint about this is that you can only use it completely vertical or completely horizontal, there is no in-between. But overall this is very powerful. It also has a built-in bubble spirit level that helps make camera alignment quick and easy.
The legs are great. There are four leg-angle settings: 25,46,66, and 88 degrees. At 88 degrees you can almost flatten out the tripod on the floor. This lets you get really low and still have the stability of a tripod with your shots. Two of the legs have foam insulation around them for cold weather. These grips are nice for normal use as well. There are three segments, each with a quick release that allows for quick height adjustments.
Along with the tripod, I also got the Manfrotto 496RC2 Ball Head. This head comes with a camera quick release. It also features a lock that stops all movement of the head. If you leave it loose, there is another dial that adds friction to the ball. This allows you to freely adjust the camera angle but also let go of the camera and it will stay in place. The rotation on the head is built so that you can position the camera at any angle. It’s a sturdy part and is a great asset to any photographer.
You can see more about the 055XPROB Tripod here:
Also see more about the 496RC2 Ball Head here: