There seems to be a lot of discussion about tripods and their benefits. However, I wonder if anyone has any experience using a Monopod, especially in the field (nature, trails, etc.) rather than lugging a tripod.
I'm looking at the Gitzo 1588. Would it be normal (and practical) to put the Markins M10 on the Gitzo monopod?
#1. "RE: Tripod vs. Monopod" | In response to Reply # 0walkerr Nikonian since 05th May 2002Fri 23-Apr-04 10:02 AM
Monopods are definitely useful, but they're not a substitute for a tripod. A good way to think of a monopod is that it's "low-tech VR": you can frequently shoot at shutter speeds a couple stops slower than you could use without it. I generally use mine with longer lenses when I'm chasing relatively active animals in the field. If the light levels aren't too low, a monopod can be a wonderful tool. I've also found them to be useful in confined situations where a tripod can't be used.
Here's an example what I thought was a good use of a monopod. My wife and I took a trip to Alaska, and I brought my monopod with me. During the following shooting situations, the monopod was a big help:
- Photographing animals from the Denali bus. These buses run through the park and stop when there is wildlife nearby. I was able to set up my monopod inside the confined space of the bus and shoot out both windows as wildlife appeared. There was no way of using a tripod in this situation - not enough space.
- Photographing wildlife from moving boats. I used the monopod a lot on day cruises in Prince William Sound and Kenai Fjords NP. Again, it would have been tough to set-up a tripod due to all the people milling around on deck. The monopod allowed me to get sharp photos of animals on pack ice without creating a tripping hazard for other people. In addition, I could quickly move around to different locations.
- Photographing moose family beside road. While driving to Homer, we encountered a female moose with two babies. She was about thirty feet from the road - pretty close for a moose. Moose can be dangerous, especially a protective mother, so I set up my equipment in the car, positioned myself so the car was in-between the moose and myself, and got some great photos with a 300mm lens. I needed some help with stability due to low light levels, but a tripod would have taken too much time to set-up or take down. I needed to be able to get both myself and my equipment back in the car as quickly as possible if she got agitated. Again, the monopod worked great and the moose didn't kill me.
The key thing in common with all of these scenarios is that a couple extra stops of shutter speed flexibility was all I needed. The monopod wouldn't have been adequate if I wanted to shoot a 300mm lens at 1/4 sec.
The monopod I use is an aluminum Gitzo 1564. I looked at the 1588, but didn't see a substantial advantage with the carbon fiber. The weights of the two are identical, the maximum heights are virtually the same, and they have the same number of leg segments. The only practical difference was that the 1588 supports 26.5 lbs while the 1564 supports 17.6 lbs. The latter is more than enough for my F5 and 500mm 4.0 P lens, so I decided that was sufficient. The cost savings was worthwhile. Carbon fiber is great in tripod applications, but I think the benefits become more marginal when you go from three legs to one.
If you're using long lenses with rotating tripod mounting rings, you can skip a head. Differences in positioning can be accomodated by tilting the monopod slightly and rotating the lens from horizontal to vertical. If you're using shorter lenses without tripod mounts, you can certainly use the Markins if you already have one.
I hope this helps.
#3. "RE: Tripod vs. Monopod" | In response to Reply # 2photovet Registered since 17th Jan 2004Fri 23-Apr-04 02:15 PM
I couldn't agree more with the comments above. I just would like to add a couple of extra comments on the use of monopods.
1. The use of monopods when the light is adequate (e.g. plenty of light and therefore fast SS) is OK as proved by the thousands of sport professional photographers that use monopods as their main support systems (tripods are not allowed inside stadiums, for example).
2. I use and inexpensive (less than £15 UK pounds) Cullman aluminium monopod that is sturdy, light and folds down to less than 40 cm. Instead of a ballhead you might want to use the RRS modification of the Manfroto 234 swivel head. You can find instructions to build this inexpensive "monopod head" here:
When I cannot use my Gitzo tripod system for support (and I normally prefer this) this combination has helped me to get more "keepers" than just hand-holding with a 300mm/f4 or larger focal length.
#4. "RE: Tripod vs. Monopod" | In response to Reply # 1Len Shepherd Nikonian since 09th Mar 2003Sat 24-Apr-04 05:09 AM
> A good way to think of a monopod is that it's
>"low-tech VR": you can frequently shoot at shutter speeds a
>couple stops slower than you could use without it.
This is good advice.
When photographing butterflies on the move a monopod can help a lot when a tripod gets in the way.
Low down with the monopod wedged between your legs 3-4 shutter speed can be gained - very useful for some close up work.
Photography is a bit like archery. A technically better camera, lens or arrow may not hit the target as often as it could if the photographer or archer does not practice enough.
#5. "RE: Tripod vs. Monopod" | In response to Reply # 4Nikon_Freak Basic MemberSun 25-Apr-04 01:16 PM
Len is definitely right on as are the others. I have and use both a Monopod and a Tripod.
I use the Monopod when using longer lenses and I want to reduce the vibration factor, also it just helps to support the weight of the whole system. I have a Bogen aluminum monopod and the Bogen monopod head. (Can't remember the exact models look in my profile for those.) I think I have about $50 in them brand new and I like it very well.
#10. "RE: Tripod vs. Monopod" | In response to Reply # 5nkcllewis Charter MemberWed 10-Nov-04 01:09 AM
Erik, I've been shooting butteflies for years and have yet to use a monopod. John Shaw in his book, "Closeups in Nature" explains how to use a butterfly rig. A butterfly rig is nothing more than a flash or two on a flash bracket allowing one to literally handhold and chase down butterflys for closeup shooting. The idea behind the flash bracket is that one can shoot a butterfly at a flash sync of 1/250 or faster now with the D70 at, f/11 and get perfectly sharp and exposed images that look like they were taken in natural sunlight. Without a flash, it is sometimes hard to get that "pop" in the wing colors. Anyways, just another option in this case.
Still, I am thankful to Rick for that recommendation earlier regarding the Gitzo 1564 vs the 1588. I'm going to get a monopod for those handheld shots where a flash or tripod are impractical.
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#6. "RE: Tripod vs. Monopod" | In response to Reply # 0
My most used lens is the Nikon 80-400 VR. Its vibration reduction feature enables me to take hand-held shots at surprisingly low shutter speeds. For those other circumstances, or for when I want to ensure maximum sharpness without resorting to a tripod, I use a Gitzo 1564L monopod.
The VR function with the camera/lens combo on a tripod actually introduces blurriness to an image compared to using the lens without a tripod. I find the monopod enables me to continue to use VR and gain additional steadiness.
Something I've discovered with my monopod is that it makes a great "handle" for the camera/lens. I often hold onto it with one hand. It adds a bit of heft and steadiness even when the leg is not planted on the ground.
The other day, I had waded out into Tampa Bay in pursuit of some egrets and herons. I had the camera mounted for a vertical shot and suddenly wanted a horizontal shot. I rested the monopod leg on my left arm (elbow extended) and shot my horizontal shot. I noted that this also led to greater steadiness when when handholding the camera alone.
My monopod is becoming my trusty companion. The other day, I used it along with a 300mm AFS F4 lens and teleconverter on my F5. The shots were wonderfully sharp. Actually, I have to admit that the sharpness was beyond my expectations.
Although I often use the monopod with the lens/camera mounted directly on it, I find this a bit limiting when I want to shoot something overhead. For instance, I was fairly near an osprey nest recently and wanted to get the adult birds as they approached the nest. I had to lean back to far with the monopod. I went to my car and got a tripod head that I find works marvelously with the monopod, the Bogen/Manfrotto 3265 grip action head. It has quick release and its angle can ge changed merely by gripping the "trigger" on the head. This head gives me a little more "flexibility" (literally) when using the monopod.
I agree otherwise with everything the others have written here.
After all of that, I still must add that for ultimate sharpness at slow shutter speeds and with long lenses (or both), nothing beats a sturdy tripod.
PS: My monopod is the aluminum version. Transportability is not a problem. I regard it as one of my best purchases.
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#7. "RE: Tripod vs. Monopod" | In response to Reply # 6LatakiaSmkr Registered since 24th Aug 2004Fri 10-Sep-04 03:59 AM
There's the old length-speed rule for safe hand holding; when using a tripod you have no limit as long as the whole thing remains steady; but what would be the shutter speed limit for monopods?
The VR comparisson can't help me much as I don't have any experience with those lenses... How much f-stops bellow hand holding limit we are talking about? Surely technique affects all, but basically, are there any rule of thumb for monopods?
#8. "RE: Tripod vs. Monopod" | In response to Reply # 0
Both have their uses, however I have found that sometimes the weight of a tripod, has made me decide to leave it indoors.
It does depend on the equipment, you will be using and what you intend to photograph, but consider this, you can move much quickly with a monopod, than with a tripod.
Also, a monopod can double up as a support
I can recommend Manfrotto monopod's from personal use.
Monopod's can keep wild dog's at bay!
Barry : An Eastbourne Nikonian
#9. "RE: Tripod vs. Monopod" | In response to Reply # 0
I started using a monopod this fall. They are an excellant aid for the shots you think you should be able to get handheld, but never are really that good. The ones you think you need a tripod for, you still do.
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