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Monopod or tripod when traveling, and how to carry?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by everythingsablur, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. everythingsablur

    everythingsablur Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 4, 2010
    Toronto, ON
    Hello all,

    I'm still in the midst of assembling what will be my new travel camera kit, and was curious to see what other users carry in terms of mono/tripods? Traditionally I've never carried either on account of their size/weight (especially on top of a Canon 1000D, kit zoom, L 17-40 (not mine), an a Sigma 70-300), and occasional inconvenience (and outright restriction in many museums), but I know this has also cost me my fair share of good photos when there was an obvious need for one.

    Ideally I'm looking for something light and easy to carry. I've never used a monopod before. Any particular tripod/monopod recommendations? Something fairly all-purpose, as I pretty much do all kinds of things while traveling from wandering through cities to hiking lava fields to sitting in ancient churches/temples.

    Also, how do you go about carrying these generally cumbersome things? I don't think they fit in most of our smallish Domke-esque bags...

    Any insight would be appreciated!
  2. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    • Like Like x 3
  3. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    That Manfrotto looks very cool. I have been thinking about getting one of these monopods but I don't want it to weigh too much. I'll have to look into this further! Thank you Pelao!
  4. pictor

    pictor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 17, 2010
    I own the Manfrotto M-Y 776YB with a Micro Ball Head 492, which is very light and easy to carry. And I own a much heavier monopod from Manfrotto, which I used when I was shooting with heavier gear, but I don't use it anymore. As a tripod I have a very sturdy Gitzo, which is heavy and not suitable to be carried for a long time. I have never used my tripod very often, only when I could drive very near to the place I wanted to shoot.

    IMHO using a monopod is better than image stabilization in the lens or in the camera. I like to use monopods a lot, but light, easy to carry and easy to use they have to be. The best monopod is the one which you can carry with you all the time without getting tired and which is still surdy enough for your gear. I don't use tripods very often, because a sturdy tripod is too heavy to be carried for hours (at least by me).

    The Manfrotto M-Y 776YB is just perfect for me, who wants to be able to carry it for hours without getting tired to do so. It is really light (0.330 kg / 0.73 lbs), compact and still more than sturdy enough for µ4/3. It could be the monopod you are looking for, too. I carry it mounted on a side of my backpack, I don't use a dedicated bag.

    This is a fine monopod, however, it is rather long and not as easy to carry as I like. The flexibility of the 685B looks great in the video of luminous landscape, but the 776YB can be operated so quickly, that the advantage of the 685B is only very small. I have tested both in the photographic shop, where I use to buy my gear, and liked the 776YB much more than the 685B. And the 776YB is really light weight, about a third of the 685B. You can use the 776YB much nearer to the ground, too, which is just fine for me.
    • Like Like x 4
  5. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    I appreciate your post and advice, Pictor!
    • Like Like x 1
  6. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I use a monopod frequently and ended up buying one of the lightest you can buy:

    Gitzo GM2561T Traveler 6x Carbon Fiber Monopod - GM2561T - B&H

    That goes with me everywhere... its so small and light.

    When I need a tripod when I am willing to sacrifice some stability for "packability":

    Cullmann Magic 2 Tripod CU 2722 - B&H Photo Video

    Its stable enough for some long/timed exposures but I wouldn't leave the camera for more than an arms length. The legs don't spread far enough to provide the most stable base BUT it is the only tripod I have found that folds completely flat. For that alone, it does find much use. One of the legs also detach to form a monopod.

    Since you did mention hiking, I use this specifically for that purpose:

    Gitzo GM1130MT Monotrek Hiking Stick/Monopod - GM1130MT - B&H

    I have weak ankles from an old injury and I use this as a walking stick. The head that came with this is also used on the carbon gitzo monopod mentioned prior.

    I used to have the 685B monopod someone previously mentioned. Its not exactly the easiest to travel with. it doesn't collapse very short, its heavy, (but stable) and quick to operate. This is the tripod a sports photog might like to lug around. I ended up selling it due to little use.

    When I sometimes go hiking/camping, I'd leave the tripod behind and just take my monopod/hiking monotrek. If a tripod is needed, I'd use a couple of sticks or branches and some large rubber bands to make my own in the field.

    For all other uses, I have the regular run of the mill aluminum heavy tripod (Bogen 3021) with 3 way pan. PITA to carry and pack though but far more stable.

    Other tripods I would recommend looking into (for travel):

    Gitzo travelers (expensive)
    Benro travel Angel (good all around), a copy of the Gitzo traveler design at a better price
    Vanguard Alto series, lightweight carbon, good value.
    • Like Like x 3
  7. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    I like the sound of that hiking one! For me, I'm looking for something very lightweight and for something handy to take for walks with my dog.
  8. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I couple "modifications" I've done on this monotrek.

    1) Overtime, the foam grip can slide down with use. This is especially true when its hot and humid outside. A little bit of that tape used for hockey sticks solved that issue.
    2) The metal tip works wonders off pavement but can be a bit tiresome on pavement. If you are going to use it on-pavement (like I do), I would suggest attaching some sort of rubber tip for better grip on-pavement. I used a cut piece of automotive rubber hose for this purpose. Once it wears down, cut another piece and replace. I pull it off when I head off the pavement.

    If you are more of a serious hiker, there are also pairs of walking sticks that have a screw attachment at the end for cameras.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    I have one of each. The 685B works well with a small ball head or the Manfrotto monopod head.

    I have the Gorillapod SLR Zoom which is rated up to 3 kg which I use with the same ball head I use on the 685B. I don't find the Gorillapod as versatile as it should be as it isn't that stable and the legs are a little too short for my liking. Your load must be well balanced, even if under 1 kg. There is no way I would put more on it. I wouldn't waste my time with the lesser models unless only using them with pocket sized point and shoot cameras.

    If going on a holiday, there is no substitute for a compact, lightweight tripod even if the better ones that will actually do the job cost a bit. You won't regret having one.
    • Like Like x 3
  10. chuckgoolsbee

    chuckgoolsbee Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 6, 2010
    Bend, Oregon
    Here's another vote for the monopod, and indeed the Manfrotto's are my choice as well. I honestly can not recall which model I have, and am traveling (for non-photo work at the moment) and do not have it with me to relate the model#. It does however have a feature that is the best of both worlds: three legs that are attached to the bottom that make it free-standing in a pinch. Works best on level ground, but I've also used it successfully on grass.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. john1027

    john1027 Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 5, 2010
    Alexandria, VA USA
    • Like Like x 2
  12. everythingsablur

    everythingsablur Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 4, 2010
    Toronto, ON
    Thanks for the great advice everyone!! I'll give more thought on using a monopod since it feels like, for most situations, it should provide enough stabilization when used correctly, and is a lot lighter/smaller. At the end of the day, I guess it makes most sense to buy both (eventually), and know the appropriate time to use either.

    What about adapter plates? I presume these are just to speedily get your camera on/off of a tripod/monopod. Do people with both buy adapters for both so they can pop on to whatever they are using that day? Any other advantage other than convenience?

    That is a very cool looking tripod. The reverse fold does appear to make it really quite short.

    The GorillaPods I think are better in concept than in practicality. They don't seem like they are really all that sturdy, are quite short, and I am not sure I'm the type to use it in all of the very creative/inventive ways that their marketing department pitches. Do people really strap their gear to the outside of a banister/railing with full confidence that it won't fall? Eek...
  13. tam

    tam Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 12, 2010
    I've one of these:

    7dayshop.com - Online Store

    which is pretty cheap and cheerful yet surprisingly stable. The clips need some care, as the plastic might break, but it's been good so far. I carry it strapped to my bag for MTB rides when I think I might want a tripod. So cheap is good incase i crash onto it!

    Only mod I made to it was a bit of tape to hold down the mechanism to rotate the camera into portrait, as it was making it a bit less stable. Doesn't go high enough for most portrait stuff, but it's fine for landscape and you can often sit it on something to get more height. It fits in most bags too, which is nice.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. MikeB10

    MikeB10 Mu-43 Regular

    I'm considering this Giottos. It's lightweight, making it a good match for MFT and one leg will convert to a monopod. A little costly but reviews indicate good performance.
    • Like Like x 3
  15. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    Mike, please let us know if you do buy this one. I found a better description via Adorama's site: VGR9255SC Giottos VITRUVIAN VGR9255-SC 5-Section Aluminum Tripod with Quick Release Ball Head, Maximum Height: 62.6in, Folded 15.6in, Load Capacity: 8.8 lbs.
  16. PeterB666

    PeterB666 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 14, 2010
    Tura Beach, Australia
    Just give me a Gitzo Ocean Traveller. At AUD $1700 or USD $1000 in the US, you will have to give it to me as I cannot afford one.

    • Like Like x 2
  17. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    :biggrin: Can I be second in the receiving line?
  18. everythingsablur

    everythingsablur Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 4, 2010
    Toronto, ON
    Quite an interesting design. This review has a few pictures of the disassembly into a monopod. Seems like you would be left with the other two legs, the centre column cap/ballast hook, and frame to throw into your backpack.

    Giottos Vitruvian VGR8255 & MH5310-630 Review
    • Like Like x 1
  19. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    It is interesting from my point of view because if I liked it, I could have the best of both worlds...without having to buy two separate items. Right now, I'm not buying anything...I'm just window shopping on this thread. However, if I were going to go out walking trails or walking with my dog or whatever, I'd just bring the monopod part with me, whereas if I were going to be wanting to photograph inside somewhere like a church or an abandoned building, etc., then it would be nice to have the tripod. Weight is another big consideration for me. I'm not a weakling but less is more in my book and I can't carry anything heavy on my shoulder... Just thinking out loud here, as usual.

    P.S. Thanks for that nice link!
  20. shinobi

    shinobi Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 11, 2010
    Those are nice tips, I like that Gitzo Traveler monopod :) 

    This ballhead from Joby is fantastic, not expensive, small but strong, and I've compared it to my Arca-Swiss. And it fits into tripods/monopods too, not just the Gorillapod.
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    • Like Like x 3
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