Yes, I am fully aware that many people advise never to save on a tripod. I know Thom Hogan wrote a good piece on the subject. http://www.bythom.com/support.htm
However, I just didn't have a $1000 to spend on a tripod and I really wanted one anyway. I decided to look at the budget end of the market and see if I could find something useable for less than a 100 euros.
When I googled I mainly found people asking questions about this, not many sharing opinions so here's a first look. This is going on vacation with me for some field testing, I will update after that.
Other options in this price range are Velbon, which is nice enough. In fact I was using my dad's old tripod which dates back to the days when aluminum was a novelty and which seems to be made of parts left over from some cold war warplane. Other options include hama and cullman (seem to be identical) and various other noname brands none of which really appealed to me.
So, I went for the calumet 7300.
It can extend high enough that I hardly have to stoop to look trough the viewfinder (and I'm 2 meters tall)
For extremely low shooting you can remove the bottom bit of the central pillar.
The head is a simple but well made 3-way:
Which includes a tiny spirit level. Controls are simple but well constructed.
The tripod is able to support a d300 + sigma 150-500 without getting wobbly (unless it's windy)
Pulling up on these clamps with calumet cast into them allows you to spread the legs further. You have a choice of 3 positions.
When you get it as low as this it gets a bit bouncy. Sliding the legs in helps with that but it's not able to provide the level of support the serious birders get from their gitzo tripods
The whole tripod weighs in at about 2600 grams and comes with a 3 year warranty. I don't think it's an excellent tripod but I do think it offers very good value for money. At a price where you'd struggle to find a basic set of Manfrotto legs you get a capable, no-frills tripod. To my mind it does show that budget tripods are not all bad.