Summary: This is a tall, lightweight set of legs. The 486R2 adds weight and with the Sony A700 + Tamron 200-500 tele, it's top heavy. However, the carbon fiber legs are built for this and expand in four slots all the way to 90 degrees with respect to the center column. It's built for 17 lbs. but weights just over 1 lbs. I love mine and take it on day hikes. I'm planning an extended weekend and will strap it to the outside of my 5500 cc pack.
Summary: I've used this tripod for studio work, hike-in and out landscape work, urban/city work and all of these in harsh, extremely hot desert conditions. The movement and locking of the legs is smooth and solid...sand just isn't going to get into the telescoping fit of the legs. This solid foundation is mated to a MG468RC0 ball head which makes it an unbeatable combination.
Summary: I am an amateur, but serious, photographer. I spend hours on a single subject. I have some heavier lenses on a Nikon D200 and a Nikon D700, rather heavy cameras. I need a tripod. I've had a handful of "affordable" tripods. They've never been sturdy. They rock when I push the shutter release, and I've been forced to use a cable release or the self-timer even on the tripod just to get a steady image. They've been fragile and broken easily.
Pros: Adjustable, Durable, Good Value, High Quality, Light
Summary: Unlike many of the other reviewers I neither own nor have used the aluminium version of this tripod, so not sure how they compare. But it certainly is a lot lighter than other metal tripods I've used. It is also remarkably sturdy and steady once set up correctly.I primarily use it for studio work in my house or for landscape photography when I go for walks or on daytrips. I actually keep this tripod permanently in my car and just bring it inside when needed.
Pros: Easily Adjusted, Good Footing, Lightweight, Locks In Tight
Summary: I bought this to replace my other Manfrotto which was a bit too heavy. This one is much lighter but I don't feel it is any less robust for that. It has a good height without having to extend the centre column but I suppose this depends on how high you are. I haven't used it extensively yet but so far it seems a good buy.
Pros: Compact, Easily Adjusted, Lightweight, Smooth Movement