much as we would like to take our tripods everywhere,
not always possible. Stands at stadiums, game fields or
courts, rinks, race tracks and theaters, are off limits
-or should be, to avoid accidents of people tripping, fights
about it, legal disputes, liability claims and/or making
a lifetime enemy. It
is just not worth it.
image sharpness, the best next thing after vises is sandbags,
then tripods, then monopods, and at the very low end of the
scale, handholding. Sandbags, now substituted by beanbags,
need a good flat area to rest, like the hood of a car. So
unless in a safari that is seldom convenient for most purposes.
Since we've done tripods,
let's do monopods.
with Markins Q3 ball head and with swivel head
tripods, monopods come in several flavors. In general you
want the sturdiest possible monopod with the smallest number
of sections and the shortest length when collapsed. Trade-offs
have to be made, but if a monopod flexes when you lean on
it, it wont help much for sharp images; and if it bends when
you fall on top of it on a trail, your first impulse will
be to throw it down the closest cliff.
Although I have one that feels like plumbing steel pipe,
and CF (carbon fiber) are the typical materials in the market;
however, after I tried the heftiest of the
don't want to use anything else.
tripods, there are also good savings in weight when
it comes to good CF monopods. For those in the high load
capacity class, they are really very light weight for the
aluminum gives you lower prices (so far); however, carbon
safety of better vibration dampening. In aluminum,
save in price you usually spend in frustration for
sturdiness if you don't choose one with a high load capacity;
what you gain in vibration dampening with the carbon
you pay in cost, but the usual premium benefit is added
strength and sturdiness. And a monopod you can lean on.
you are an infrequent monopod user and don't to spend much,
get a robust Manfrotto aluminum one, like the 681B or the
680B. No way
to go wrong on that. They are one of the preferred
choices of working sports photographers.
Number of leg sections. The ideal would be the
least possible number, however a compromise has to be
for a reasonable
collapsed size without loosing rigidity. If too long it becomes
cumbersome to carry it around and it will stay home.
most frequently found monopods amongst advanced amateur
professional Nikonians can be compared in the table below:
As of June 2012 at major online retailers
USA and the PhotoProShop
may ask: why the prices are so different between carbon
And more important: is a CF monopod worth it? The short
yes, otherwise they wouldn't be selling as much as they
do. Is there a status reason behind
in the sense that owners take pride in owning one, but
when asked about the main motivator, quality and durability
the factors most often mentioned. Owners of CF monopods,
also own CF tripods, so they are obviously familiar
the materials characteristics. Plus, if you are very
are no other choices for this quality level.
compare the above monopods load capacities to those of
/ 55lbs is the load capacity of the new
and also of the Series 5 tripods, recommended
for the maximum load of
a pro body with
400mm f/2.8 AF-S or the 600mm f/4 AF-S Nikkor and tele converter.
And the monopod does it on a single leg. The
Gitzo GM5541 CF monopod
is now used daily by pro sports photographers with the
setups. This is the one I use now.
/ 39.6lbs is the load capacity of the new
carbon fiber monopod and for the now very popular Series
3 CF tripods; recommended for up to a pro body and lenses
as the 200-40mm f/4G ED
IF AF-S VR and the 500mm f/4 with tele converter. Again,
same load capacity than the corresponding tripods, on a
there lighter and smaller monopods? Sure. But, why get
anything below those load capacities when they give the
best sense of sturdiness and reliability, are so
light and collapse to a comfortable size? Unless of course
you have committed yourself to using very light bodies
(including your own )
with small lenses.
there cheaper alternatives? Yes. However, one usually gets what one
What to look for
height. Like with tripods, the
ideal height is at least that which will allow
you to bring your camera’s
viewfinder to eye level. A few extra inches always help.
is getting more and more important if you travel with
your monopod and you plan on packing it in your suitcase
or carrying it in a backpack.
With anything above a P&S camera, make sure the monopod’s
load capacity is at least two and a half times the weight
of your heaviest gear. To be safe, the same applies to
any head to be used. The ideal is three times.
leg tip. To be able to switch between
rubber leg tips (when over tile or carpet) and spikes
(when in the field) is a real plus; you are then ready
to take on any type of surface or terrain. Or you can
just have heavy duty rubber caps for your spikes.
What monopod head is next.