I have a Manfrotto 3021B Pro tripod with a 3130 head. Not the lightest setup for sure. I want to get a better head for it, one that will rotate in any direction (tilt is a big deal). Mine just does up-down and left-right. No tilt what-so-ever.
Can I buy any head I want for my tripod and just swap them out? I want to buy CustomSLR.com's M Plate Pro and have a tight combination. Sorry, but I am really tripod dumb. I have used my current version for a very long time. Maybe 10 years?
You can put any head on it. There are three small screws on the round plate under your head. Loosen them and unscrew the head counter clockwise. The tripod has a 3/8 stud that is a standard mount for almost all heads, and certainly the ones you'd be interested in. You do not need the lock screws for most heads.
At that point, its a choice of heads, and there are many good ones, many crappy ones, and a few excellent ones. My Benro heads fall into the crappy category and don't get used, my Kirk head is excellent.
As others say, its just a matter of how much you are willing to spend, the excellent ones are quite expensive.
You must also decide on the QR plate style you want. Most will recommend the Arca Swiss Style QR plates, which means most Manfrotto heads are out.
I've used Manfrotto, Benro (yuk), and Kirk. Manfrotto is good and their top heads are near excellent, while Kirk, RRS, Markins, etc are all excellent.