I am looking for my first tripod and just learning terminology. I hear there are such that level automatically, but I am not sure how to google them. What is this feature called with different brands? What brands would you recommend? What would be my least expensive choice? I read several posts on tripods and could not locate that specific term that means they adjust automatically. I also checked Vanguard website. Many of their 'pods have "Instant Swivel Stop-n-Lock (ISSL) System." Does it mean they level automatically, or something else?" I am a beginner with a compact camera and limited budget, but want to invest wisely to allow progress in facility and equipment. In other words, I want to buy one that is intended for a better camera than the one I have at present, but such that still can be used for a compact camera. I envision my next upgrade with a Rebel with telephoto.
You are not going to find a cheap self leveling tripod. They are a fairly new thing and would be very expensive if there are even any commercially available that aren't custom jobs. My guess about the ISSL system is that it is simply a way to quickly lock down the ability to move the joint (rather than having to tighten something down through several rotations.) The only term I have heard applied is "self leveling tripod" or "self adjusting tripod". I'm also not 100% sure that they self level so much as self steady. I just know that I've seen where someone can drop the tripod and it will adjust to the terrain (I think the demo I saw showed it being dropped on a staircase.)
The better question is why do you need a tripod to self level? It is not difficult or time consuming to level a tripod. Get a good quality tripod with easy to use legs and you can do it in a matter of seconds by just reading the bubble level and adjusting accordingly.