I think if I had to choose either a ball head or a pan head with the camera tripod I was buying, I would choose the pan head. Granted, I may not need this much control for all my photography. But for those cases when I do, I would be very happy with this choice. Fortunately, making this choice rarely comes into play as there are many tripods on the market that come with both.
I prefer a tripod with strong legs, like a sturdy aluminum or carbon fiber, and a twist lock at the leg joints that doesn’t slip. A retractable spike at the ends of the legs is nice to have, but these are more expensive. A less expensive alternative is to buy a tripod with detachable rubber feet and buy attachment spikes for it. This way, when your photography takes you to the slippery slopes you can just switch to spikes with a handy tool that is usually included.
I also like to have an easy to view bubble level for the horizontal and vertical axes on the tripod. This helps to frame the photo properly and reduces setup time.
Until next time, Happy Shuttering!