Who here uses a monopod?

Started Nov 28, 2012 | Discussions
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tamasine Forum Member • Posts: 85
Who here uses a monopod?

It's not something I'd thought about before - I use a tripod for macro work and long exposures.  I was chatting with a friend of mine who is a semi-professional photographer and he suggested I get a monopod as it's far more portable.

Ok, I understand the portable bit.  What I don't know is how do you keep it steady if (for example) you're in a museum and you cannot dig it in to the ground...won't it be impossible to keep it from twitching as you are taking the shot? (I have a feeling there's a simple answer and I'm being dense!)

Do you guys and gals use a monopod on a regular basis and if so, in what types of situations and how do you keep it steady?

I'm guessing you cannot use one to take a long exposure?

Thanks :))

happysnapper64 Senior Member • Posts: 5,326
Re: Who here uses a monopod?

Hi tamasine. Have not used one for long exposuresmy main use would be by the lake on a folding chair, mono down to near minimum height, camera strap tight round the left elbow, [well, tightish!] Good for short panning shots of low flying birds, or ducks etc landing on water. There again I need fast S/S but with my Sigy 120-400 it takes some of the weight off my old bones !!! I am considering getting a newer & better one & a ball head. Should make life a little easier.

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lee uk.
There are old pilots, & there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots.

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Alberto Tanikawa
Alberto Tanikawa Senior Member • Posts: 1,910
Re: Who here uses a monopod?

When you use a monopod you take burden away from your hands by stabilizing  your equipment's vertical movement. This is enough to give you better shots, but a tripod is still king for macro work. I use a monopod for other purposes too, like getting aerial shots of people dancing during a wedding. Monopods take the burden off your neck/shoulders too, as well as help a video shooter stay standing during a really LONG ceremony

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Alberto T.

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nkistrup
nkistrup Senior Member • Posts: 1,773
Re: Who here uses a monopod?

I have a Gitzo monopod w. interchangeable feet, that I use w. my Canon G12.  And I almost never use the camera with it or the tripod.

Exposure: Using the 80 mm foot, 1 sec exposures become hit or miss; 1/2 sec or less are almost guaranteed.

Most helpful:

  1. Crowded conditions.  Tripods obstruct people, while monopods have the footprint of a cane.
  2. Long hikes.  Less weight & less awkward to carry, and in a pinch become a walking stick. (WARNING: Do not put your weight on one.)
  3. Quick setup.  When you need to add exposure time, and do so very quickly.

Bottom Line: Get it for when you need longer exposures, and tripods are not practical.  1 sec  exposures are really pushing it, so for those & longer, bring the tripod.

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hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 16,232
Re: Who here uses a monopod?

I use a monopod primarily to support big honkin' heavy lenses like a 300 f/2.8 or especially a 400 f/2.8 for sports, news and fashion photography. Similarly, I can see it being used for the same reason for wildlife photography.

A monopod does not allow the ultra-long exposures of a tripod, but I have shot a speaker at a podium with a 300 f/2.8 at 1/60th sec. and got most of the shots sharp. A monopod will allow you 2-3 extra stops of speed, but nothing like a tripod. A monopod is generally lighter and more compact than a tripod.

Also, as the previous poster said, the small footprint makes it far more practical when working in crowded conditions. Many museums do not allow tripods for safety reasons. Pretty bad idea on city streets, too.

Like a tripod, a monopod is a one-time purchase. If you decide to get one, buy the very best you can afford. I use a Gitzo I bought over 20 years ago and it still works perfectly.

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tamasine OP Forum Member • Posts: 85
Re: Who here uses a monopod?

Thanks very much for all your replies.  I don't know if a monopod would suit my needs as I don't (at the moment) do any wildlife or sports photography, which I see most people use it for.

As I said on another thread I'll be going to Venice early next year.  I have a Velbon tripod that is sturdy yet pretty small for my carry-on luggage.  I was thinking that maybe a monopod would be good for Venice, especially when it gets a bit darker....I mean the portability and fact that it wouldn't take long to set up, plus it doesn't take up much room on the ground.

I know that buying the best is the way to go, but I'm not sure that spending $300 on something I might use makes sense...

mbernard Senior Member • Posts: 1,080
Re: Who here uses a monopod?

I'm using monopods (an old Gitzo Safari and Gitzo GM5561T Mountaineer) a lot for macro photography. Tripods are useful early in the morning when insects are very slow and perching low on plants. During daytime insects frequently move and then a monopod is more useful - it allows me to change positions quickly. However, monopods have some limitations. Depending on the lens in use and your physical predispositions, you cannot use times longer than 1/10 to 1/50 sec.

NancyP Veteran Member • Posts: 5,321
Re: Who here uses a monopod?

Monopod used for macro (only up to 1:1 so far), for hard-to reach spots, for sitting and waiting for birds to come and go from a nest or feeding spot. A monopod is much lighter than any tripod. I use tripods as well, but may not feel like dragging it around on a birding hike.

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keith1101 Regular Member • Posts: 100
Re: Who here uses a monopod?

Cullmann magnesit550 exelent monopod , use mine with manfroto 496RC2 ball head ,great combo.

regards

Billstek
Billstek Contributing Member • Posts: 613
Re: Who here uses a monopod?
1

You may want to try a "string tripod" (or "string monopod", especially if you are using a lens with stabilization. I find that the results are similar to, or even superior to, my monopod. Plus, it it's a super light and fast solution. I use a Sigma 150 OS for macro. It's cheap enough to try the string monopod-- mine's a 6' dog leash.

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STPitt Regular Member • Posts: 256
Re: Who here uses a monopod?

I use a monopod and have for quite a while but I also have a tripod.  If you do decide on a monopod, as with a tripod, go for a quality product.  They’re pricey but worth it.  When I bring my monopod, I carry quite a few Velcro ‘cinch’ straps so I can tie it to a solid object.  It works in a pinch when you don’t have the tripod with you.  Usually with some imagination you can find a solid object to tie it to, fence post, railing, tree, bumper, etc.  I also find they work well when fully extended, tip solidly on the ground, the monopod shaft against your chest and belly to steady the camera while you shoot, nice when panning.  A monopod works great within its limits but I agree, a tripod is king for macro or those long exposures.

Steve-Seattle

Paphios Regular Member • Posts: 395
Re: Who here uses a monopod?

I use a monopod in situations where I want added stability, but a tripod is impractical or not allowed.  Technically I recommend using your legs as 2/3 of a tripod with a monopod.

When I am shooting stationary subjects, I use shutter delay.  Otherwise a cable release  can be used to avoid vibration

For long exposures use a tripod, of course.

Carey Brown
Carey Brown Senior Member • Posts: 1,242
Monopod for video

I just replaced my old monopod with a carbon one. Amongst other things I use it for video shooting as it allows me to pan. Because of this use, I found ball heads to be impractical and went with this head:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=orderHistory&A=details&Q=&sku=554096&is=REG

I also have a shoulder brace that I bought for it many years ago; made of plastic but very strong. The brace folds flat against the monopod when not in use.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/554100-REG/Manfrotto_361_361_Shoulder_Brace_for.html

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Chuck Schilling Regular Member • Posts: 248
They are excellent for video

I shoot video of a lot of bands in smaller venues where there may not be room for my full tripod setup or where I may not be permitted to bring it inside.  It's simply not possible nor practical to shoot hours of video handheld, particularly if you're having to use longish lenses (I usually shoot with a 70-200mm f2.8).  Monopods make it possible to do so (though of course will never be as convenient or stable as a decent or better tripod.  And, with a monopod, you can stack devices under your camera (I have a couple DIY brackets I use to mount a Zoom H4N and MixPre-D under the camera, and a mike spreader I use to attach twin mikes atop the hot shoe mount).  That would simply be impossible to manage handheld, and I've yet to see any of the shoulder mount rigs that would let me reasonably comfortably shoot video continuously for more than, say, thirty minutes.

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ata3001
ata3001 Contributing Member • Posts: 607
Re: They are excellent for video

I have a Gitzo & a Monfrotto monopod. Neither one is rarely used.

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amateurphotographer Regular Member • Posts: 410
Re: MONO FOR SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

tamasine wrote:

It's not something I'd thought about before - I use a tripod for macro work and long exposures. I was chatting with a friend of mine who is a semi-professional photographer and he suggested I get a monopod as it's far more portable.  TRIPOD IS DEFINITELY BETTER THAN MONOPOD FOR LONG EXPOSURES AS MONOPODS REQUIRES YOU TO HAND HOLD IT AND THEREFORE SUBJECT TO MOVEMENT.  MONOPODS CAN BE USED FOR MACRO WORK IF THE SHUTTER SPEED IS FAST TO STOP BLUR, IT IS HANDIER AND QUICKER TO SET UP THAN A TRIPOD SO IF CHASING AN INSECT IS MORE VERSATILE.

Ok, I understand the portable bit. What I don't know is how do you keep it steady if (for example) you're in a museum and you cannot dig it in to the ground...won't it be impossible to keep it from twitching as you are taking the shot? (I have a feeling there's a simple answer and I'm being dense!)  KEEP IT STEADY WITH ONE HAND ON THE MONOPOD WHILE THE OTHER HAND ON THE CAMERA BODY. YES THE MONO MAY ROCK BUT IS GENERALLY STEADIER THAN IF JUST HAND HOLDING THE CAMERA

Do you guys and gals use a monopod on a regular basis and if so, in what types of situations and how do you keep it steady?   SPORT PHOTOGRAPHY WHERE YOU ARE CARRYING A LARGE LENS , I.E. 300 F2.8 PLUS.  TAKES THE WEIGHT OFF YOUR SHOULDERS!  ALLOWS YOU TO WALK AROUND WITH THE CAMERA AND LENS ATTACHED TO BE CARRIED ON YOUR SHOULDER WHILE HOLDING THE MONO.  ALSO ALLOWS RAISING AND LOWER THE LENS QUICKLY AS DEALING WITH ONE POLE INSTEAD OF THREE.  IMPORT WHEN THE TERRAIN IS UP AND DOWN, E.G. GOLF COURSE.  ALSO MONO ARE LIGHTER THAN TRIPOD, WHICH IS IMPORTANT WHEN WORKING ALL DAY WITH A HEAVY LENS.   CAN BE USED FOR WILDLIFE WHEN ON THE MOVE, OR EVEN FROM THE BACK OF A JEEP ON SAFARI.

i ALSO USED THE MONO RECENT FOR A CONCERT SHOOT, STUCK MY CAMERA ON SELF TIMER AND UP INTO THE AIR WITH A FISH EYE LENS.  TRIPOD WOULD BE HEAVIER TO DO THIS.

I'm guessing you cannot use one to take a long exposure?   NO INTENDED FOR THAT PURPOSE.

Thanks :))

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shagnat Junior Member • Posts: 33
Re: Who here uses a monopod?

I use one. Very handy IMHO. I believe you would find several uses for it if you had one. Just my 2 cents!

irvweiner Contributing Member • Posts: 705
Re: Who here uses a monopod?

I have used a tripod for decades, several years ago I added a monopod (Manfrotto 680) to my kit, my Markins ballhead was a pleasure to use on both. I started to favor the monopod but found the need for it to 'stand by itself'. In the Manfrotto catalog I found the screw in tripod leg assembly. This accessory permits the monopod to be self supporting--with much caution!  Seriously, I  use this setup with my Sigma 150-500 for wildlife and panos. It is a pleasure to relieve your arms for a few moments, I do keep one hand on it cautiously but since the weight load is completely supported by 'pod' the burden is moved from my arms. Knowing that I can let go when I want is a big plus. For those hiking this is a very big plus--no need to search for a 'safe' spot to lean or lay down the camera-lens-pod. For birders with a carbon fiber monopod, this setup allows you to lift everything up and track a BIF--I can do this withthe  680 only because my arms are not and stronger!!!

good luck  irv weiner

ps: the 'tripod legs' screw into the body when not needed thus are always with you.

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