Found a really good monopod and head combo

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Brianetta, Jun 8, 2012.

  1. Brianetta

    Brianetta Mu-43 Veteran

    438
    Sep 5, 2010
    North East England
    Brian Ronald
    I've been wanting to get a decent monopod for some time. I have a couple of floor-standing tripods (as opposed to tiny little desktop ones); one very old and very heavy, with no quick release, and one very light and inexpensive, and fairly wobbly.

    In the spirit of µ4/3, I wanted to get a very lightweight monopod without sacrificing quality - preferably without breaking the bank.

    Helen already had a monopod, which we bought for her Casio compact camera. Having had a good play with it, I decided that I'd like one just like it, but with some sort of head.

    Helen's monopod is a Manfrotto MMC3-01, which is a lightweight, strong, black monopod. I decided to opt for an utterly unknown quantity, and went for the Manfrotto MMC3-02, which is... grey. These monopods only cost about £20 on the high street, which is less than some unknown-branded, heavy, weak rubbish. At 290g, it's more than acceptably light. it achieves this in part by having an oval cross section, meaning it can flex in one direction. It's a compromise I can live with.

    It took me a little longer to find a decent head to go with my monopod. I eventually found one in Jessops - and it's a store branded one, the Jessops BH-20. No quick release - that's twice the weight, and it takes only a couple of seconds to mount a camera on this one.

    Here's a picture of the monopods, along with the head:
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/fQ0wx2iHWOc1kN-pK_WRLIyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-UsY2ukSWlE0/T9IL3AwBo1I/AAAAAAAADek/TFOqN6QiBEw/s800/R6080671.JPG" height="600" width="800" /></a>

    My grey one goes better with my silver E-P1, where Helen's black one goes better with her black GF-3. I took the strap off mine.

    There's a practical difference between the two colours. The black one is glossy and isn't quite as strong, and if you give it about 4kg it will slowly collapse from the bottom. The grey one has a matt paint, and I can't collapse it when it's clipped down.

    My ball head:
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/sBjS7BBiWaj1TF70S59mw4yhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-T1lyLVl5U2U/T9IL3_1QcUI/AAAAAAAADes/7AV2cDmZgxs/s400/R6080673.JPG" height="400" width="267" /></a>

    This was only about £12 on the high street (£1 cheaper than on the web site), and weighs 130g. I'm impressed with its strength, and [i]very[/i] impressed with how flush it sits on the monopod. It doesn't feel quite as good as one costing three times as much, of course, but it does its job properly. I was glad not to have to spend more on the head than I spent on the monopod!

    Helen isn't going without - she's ordered a tiny little Hama branded ball head from Amazon, which is an insignificant 35g. I wasn't keen to trust something so tiny, but she adores the leightweight aspects of this camera system (her go-to setup is the GF-3 with 14mm).

    With and without the ball head, here's Helen's GF-3 on the monopod:
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/TrFiRzcLGfJQXfYQpQX99IyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-fH74WMJx_hw/T9IL5LAam8I/AAAAAAAADe8/tbKd5s-CEm4/s288/R6080677.JPG" height="216" width="288" /></a><a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/rxvDBU1k6-3f5Wd7cxxnkIyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ZrlqtsLK4Pc/T9IL4YfbNqI/AAAAAAAADe0/D8KptR4kJQc/s288/R6080675.JPG" height="288" width="216" /></a>

    Clearly, portrait is the first advantage of a ball head; another is leaning the thing on a wall:
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Ivs6Jv7VlbhHoHVrCVbBB4yhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-hvIb9XfqGLM/T9IL5sVsovI/AAAAAAAADfE/azWKItM7JGc/s400/R6080678.JPG" height="400" width="300" /></a>

    The head has a cork pad, and a panning base in addition to the ball itself. Loosened right off, everything spins freely, allowing the camera to be mounted and removed very rapidly. Tightened up, it's a rock.
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/1yaw2nM2lXnOn9gb3ZKXo4yhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-91lA218368s/T9IL7omtznI/AAAAAAAADfM/srcMNokXpNI/s288/R6080679.JPG" height="288" width="288" /></a><a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/TRmaAFa9mvPD-an4i63E6YyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-0azkMjmWb28/T9IL_Sd6JqI/AAAAAAAADfc/oAArXCWa9BE/s288/R6080682.JPG" height="288" width="288" /></a>

    The monopod is tall, having five sections. The bottom section is very slender, but it's surprisingly stable for its weight. Here's how my E-P1 looks on the silver one. Using the head, it's easy to tuck the monopod behind one knee for additional stability.
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/iXCdQXmQC3LdElt4M1saeYyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-46PezqeXJKQ/T9IL8Yft8pI/AAAAAAAADfU/dZarWN-NR4U/s288/R6080680.JPG" height="288" width="120" /></a><a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/RZvlnHLh3zWtzpoZaRXcWIyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-0L02c-hLk64/T9IL_1lkePI/AAAAAAAADfk/CuQuBbeuPlU/s288/P1010228.JPG" height="288" width="216" /></a>

    So, to sum up:

    Total cost for a monopod with a ball head was £32.
    Total weight of the monopod and head is 420g.
    The monopod is rated to 1500g.
    The monopod itself extends from 390mm to 1455mm, with the head adding 70mm when upright.
    The silver MMC3-02 is slightly stronger than the black MMC3-01 due to matt paint that doesn't slip.

    It's small enough and light enough to take along [i]even if[/i] you think you won't need it, which came in handy recently when I found myself wanting a support to take a photo of a tarantula inside a dimly lit terrarium. Look at this little cutie, at 1/5 second:
    [URL=http://imgur.com/VDfhf][ATTACH=full]210566[/ATTACH][/URL]

    Win. It's the ideal monopod and head for a small system camera.
     
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  2. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Bob
    Looks like a great setup. I'm still looking for a small ball-head with a quick release. Jobo makes one I might try.
     
  3. Brianetta

    Brianetta Mu-43 Veteran

    438
    Sep 5, 2010
    North East England
    Brian Ronald
    My ball head is available un-branded from Hague. There is a quick release variant, too, from both retailers. It isn't a lot more cash, but it is twice as heavy.
     
  4. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Bob
    Thanks, I'm looking for one in the US - something just like that one, actually! :cool:
     
  5. Printfolio

    Printfolio Mu-43 Regular

    65
    May 6, 2012
    Kortrijk, Belgium
    Steven
    I use a Monostat RS and Cullman ballhead. The unit doubles as a club to fend off aggressors. :thumbup:
     
  6. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    I too am a nut about weight, but I found that when in the field, walking, etc. it was very hard to line the threads up to screw the monopod into the camera. It's that with the ball it's almost impossible to get the screw axis accurately lined up with the monopod axis. So I now use quick release plates and bases of the type where putting the plate into the base triggers an automatic lock. Manfrotto RC2, for example. YMMV, of course.
     
  7. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    773
    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Ron
    A monopod is more useful than I thought

    Some time ago, I bought a Velbon monopod (I think it's a RUP-L43 with Ballhead). I wanted it for use with my Nikon D40 and slow kit lens in gloomy church interiors where tripods are sometimes frowned upon. Monopods look like nordic walking type sticks, and when you're 64, people seem to assume you need it for support, not photography :)

    I have since bought (and sold) a high end carbon tripod and ballhead: too much trouble to a) bring it and b) set it up and c) with current cameras, including my X100 and EM5, going to ISO 3200 comfortably, not much need for it (for my type of shots).

    But the monopod is still with me and still useful, especially on trips. Light, easy to carry and almost as good as a tripod if you can lean it on something, as you often can. I also have a Manfrotto mini tripod with a Novoflex 19P head which is even lighter and great for taking group photos with yourself in the picture, or product shots.
     
  8. Dan Ka

    Dan Ka Mu-43 Regular

    128
    Jan 11, 2011
    Northeastern Ohio
    Monostat RS and Cullman ballhead -- yikes! all I can afford is to buy the bag for the monopod. :smile:

    I was looking for a quick release ballhead only for my old Slik monopod that I've been dragging around for more than 20 years. I saw this thread and checked out the Manfrotto, but, instead I bought the Opteka MP100 67" Heavy Duty Monopod Amazon.com: Opteka MP100 67" Professional Heavy Duty Photo / Video Monopod: Camera & Photo and Sunpak 620 pistol grip ballhead Amazon.com: Sunpak 620-PISTOLGRPQR Tripod: Camera & Photo Less than $45 for both.

    I know Opteka is not the greatest brand, but, I have had some luck with other Opteka gear. I'll see how it goes.
     
  9. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    773
    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Ron
    Dan, with some things the cheaper stuff (maybe not the cheapest) is 90% (or more) as good as the expensive brands, who have to spend a lot on advertising to maintain their premium image.

    I wouldn't apologize for buying something whose price isn't inflated by heavy marketing costs.

    On the contrary, I enjoy an inner glee when I know my stuff is as good as the high-priced ones, but a fraction of the price.

    OK, I'm Scottish, I admit it :)
     
  10. Brianetta

    Brianetta Mu-43 Veteran

    438
    Sep 5, 2010
    North East England
    Brian Ronald
    Well, this little thing has arrived. 38g on the scales, and much smaller than the pictures on the web site suggested. Here it is on Helen's Manfrotto (as pictured above). It has full freedom, including the portrait notch and a panning base:
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/aAW7N0hLTpaIO_i6XAIs_YyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-dXQwsIk2K6w/T9kjzDdVEvI/AAAAAAAADf0/DO4xwQxhIhM/s400/R6131196.JPG" height="400" width="300" /></a><a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/oB9fCBV_iCg-5F9V3_4jFoyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-VPtt1ORWa5I/T9kj0NellLI/AAAAAAAADf4/woi8ncTKC2w/s400/R6131197.JPG" height="400" width="300" /></a>

    The contact area between the bottom of the head and the top of the monopod is only the silver area shown here. It's really not quite enough on this monopod, as the pressure isn't distributed and it actually tunnels down into the monopod a little. A washer of the right size should help it a lot.
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/5HfjRkQ2kTrIAC_HOgmEkoyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-dGbJg-5wh2Y/T9kj14atDLI/AAAAAAAADgE/h3eik3w_vaw/s640/R6131199.JPG" height="480" width="640" /></a>

    Its size is better suited to very small tripods, such as this Asda special:
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/mJ0VtLpwZZnXPCYhggaj6IyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-qEImsm0p69M/T9kj2kNgoUI/AAAAAAAADgI/gLrFnarn0c0/s400/R6131200.JPG" height="400" width="300" /></a>

    That said, it's strong enough to support the weight of a GF3 and small lens:
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/B6aLxEtFOUa7CSPz6tAtjoyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-n0jef-4EDh4/T9kj3iVo5RI/AAAAAAAADgQ/QxMiNveOPZ4/s640/R6131190.JPG" height="480" width="640" /></a>

    In portrait, and at an angle:
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/4OeHbBSsN9wdTy6uTGfmZIyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-y9jR9AtOifY/T9kj4hMaOKI/AAAAAAAADgY/8iVpNZM3Z4U/s400/R6131201.JPG" height="400" width="400" /></a><a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/9_f9b2ZdjAbnO5lFgEMCMoyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-atqj9FKbW7s/T9kj5jm8AbI/AAAAAAAADgk/l9yVTjdzl7A/s400/R6131202.JPG" height="400" width="400" /></a>

    It is constructed in four parts, two of which are captives to each other:
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/ZosBFZXFftgDPT__ZSZBBoyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[img]https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-2VJuqrKjj2o/T9kj6hIhb0I/AAAAAAAADgo/dcgjsPYw-Yg/s640/R6131203.JPG" height="361" width="640" /></a>

    For between ten and fifteen pounds, this isn't bad at all, and its strength is unbelievable for its size and weight. The one drawback being the tiny surface area it presents; as I said, a washer to protect the monopod is something I need to find. I don't have any in the house that are thin enough and wide enough.
     
  11. Brianetta

    Brianetta Mu-43 Veteran

    438
    Sep 5, 2010
    North East England
    Brian Ronald
    A 30mm washer with an M6 hole seems to be the one!
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/U3DCVslk8hmK4_RN4DwykoyhY64iNpNpkT-DR0WfHHw?feat=embedwebsite">[​IMG]
     
  12. Use the Benro B-00 on the monopod. The BH-00 that came with the monopod is a piece of junk or it's a lemon. Not as smooth. Heavier (but does have a level bubble) & not an Arca -Swiss compatible qr. Used the B-00 on the last trip. Survived couple dust/sand storms.
     
  13. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Two things I have learned from using monopods on trips all over the world:

    1) Small, cheap ball heads work just fine. Small + Cheap tends to get you ball heads that are a little sticky/jerky when making small movements. This is A Problem when using them on a tripod. With a monopod, though, you make these movements by tilting and twisting the monopod, so it is pretty much a non-issue. The Velbon QHD-41Q is a nice little cheap one. Manfrotto also has several ball heads with the RC2 system.

    2) The Arca-Swiss system is not a a quick release system, at least the ones I have seen. The bases have a screw that must be turned to clamp the plate. So, one hand to hold the camera, one hand to hold the monopod, and one hand to tighten the screw. This is fine if you are a three handed mutant. Both the products I mentioned above have QR systems where when the plate is inserted into the base, the clamp is automatically actuated. Very easy to use with the camera in one hand and the monopod in the other, even when walking.

    I am actually using a Benro B-01 ball on my monopod, because the monopod is one leg of a Travel Flat tripod for which I am already carrying the ball head. I have removed the screw clamp Arca Swiss base and modified the head to take the Velbon QR base, however. The B-01 is a little bulky though, so I may buy one of the little QHD-41Q heads and use that exclusively for the monopod.
     
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