This comes from Graham Welland one our great members here on tripod comparisons authored by one of his good friends Chris Duncan.
What I always look for in a tripod the first 4 most important items to me in order on what I look for before buying.
1. Height, how high will it go without a center column
2 Minimum folding size, I know I stuff my tripod in my luggage when I travel so this is important
4. How much weight can it hold. I like to have a tripod that can handle 5 or more times the weight of the gear on it. So a 5 lb cam i like anywhere from 25lbs to 50 lb weight capacity
5. 3 or 4 leg extension. 3 legs would have longer legs so it folds bigger than a 4 leg extension
6 Can it take a center column
7. Does it have a hook under the plate or center column to add a weight to the tripod.
8. Does it have legs that spread to almost floor level
9. Fit and finish
10. Can it take spikes and or claws
Im sure there is more here that we can add. But these are some of the things I look for in a tripod. Cost is somewhat irrelevant given the life span on a good solid tripod since they can last years and they dont change much.
Anyway this is a great chart to compare specs all in one place. Prices may have changed since Chris authored this so do check them first. Again thanks to Graham and Chris to add this to our review section.