Monopod question

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Ig7, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. Ig7

    Ig7 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    386
    Aug 24, 2011
    I am looking to get a light monopod to bring with me on trip with a tour instead of a tripod, which I will have no time to set up. Not planning to shoot videos, just maybe help with panoramas. I noticed some of the monopods have base legs. How important are those for stability?
     
  2. RAH

    RAH Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    426
    Dec 1, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Rich
    I think that those base legs are mainly intended for video. I think a plain monopod (without those legs) is just about as good for panoramas (panned individual shots that will be stitched in post-processing), without the added weight and cumbersome aspect of them. I agree with your thinking that a monopod is better than handheld for panos.
     
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  3. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Agree wioth @RAH@RAH on the little legs. I am a long-time traveler/monopod user and would not consider them. For me they would just add weight, bulk, and be in the way.

    Re panos, you don't really even need a monopod except in low light. Just pivot your body as you shoot. This works great for landscapes with few or any foreground objects. There is a good video on the Acratech site that explains the parallax problem for close objects. It occurs when an object is near/on a stitching point. If you have like one foreground object and can center it in one of your images, no worries. If you have many, you will have to delve into the "nodal point" stuff to understand what to do.

    BTW you should plan to put a small ball head with a quick-release system onto your monopod. Don't buy one of those "monopod" heads with only one axis of motion.
     
  4. Ig7

    Ig7 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    386
    Aug 24, 2011
    oldracer, I actually have the Acratech ball head and the nodal rail I use on my tripod. I was not planning on bringing the setup because being on a tour bus with a group I don't see myself having time to set up and do the shooting. Now that you mentioned it, I wonder if I can put the head and the rail on a monopod?
    What brand do you use?
    thanks
     
  5. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    I often use my Acratech GP-S on my monopod. I like that head quite a bit and it is much lighter weight than it looks. So, yes, it will work fine.

    As far as the rail, I guess it depends on what you like to shoot. Personally, I would not carry it because my infrequent panos are landscapes without close foreground objects. So no benefit from screwing with the rail. But for you it might be essential. I don't know.

    Now re the quick release clamp on the head, with monopods you get what I call the "three hands problem:" One hand to hold the monopod, one hand to hold the camera as you insert the plate into the clamp, and one hand to tighten the screw clamp. You don't have three hands? Oh. Then, I would seriously avoid screw-type Arca clamps. Next best is the lever-type clamps like the one Acratech offers. Note that the lever locks in position (unlike the RRS lever) and is thus pretty immune to getting knocked open as you go through the brush or as you just handle the rig a little carelessly. In addition to the Acratech clamp, the other locking type I have bought is Chinese, going for about $50 on eBay. It is quite good quality and works just as well as the expensive Acratech. With lever clamps you still have the three-hand problem but it is easier to flip the lever with one of the two hands you did come equipped with.

    Best clamp for monopods, IMO, is the Manfrotto RC2. With this clamp, the plate is automatically locked when it is inserted in the clamp. Almost zero chance of dropping the camera or the monopod and only two hands needed in total. It's not Arca compatible though. Many Chinese/cheap RC2 copycat clamps and plates available on eBay.

    Carry a couple of bungee cords that you can use to lash the monopod to solid objects like trees or railings.

    Finally, if you're not used to using a monopod I suggest doing some searches and looking at some web sites and videos "how to use a monopod" The punch line is that it is not just a straight stick that holds the camera up. There are lots of better ways to use it to stabilize your camera.

    HTH
     
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  6. Ig7

    Ig7 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    386
    Aug 24, 2011
    HTH, great advice. I did actually get a lever-type clamp with the GP-S. It is very handy. Planning to skip the rail and just avoid the foreground objects. I have a few weeks before my trip and plan to practice before hand.

    Debating between the three monopods at this time:

    Manfrotto MM290C4US 290 Carbon Fiber Monopod
    Sirui P-326 6-Section Carbon Fiber Monopod
    Oben CTM-2500 5-Section Pro Carbon Fiber Compact Travel Monopod
     
  7. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Assuming you are asking, I would not consider the Manfrotto or any monopod with flip locks. They take up space and snag on things while being negligibly faster than conventional twist/collet locks.

    The other two look OK in pictures. I find myself using my monopod as a trekking pole fairly regularly so I would be looking for something that I was sure was strong enough for that.

    Collapsed length in the 15-17" (without head) is what I would look for.

    Re carbon, IMO with monopods it is less critical because the tubing is a relatively smaller percentage of the total weight, particularly with a head mounted. Not it it's not nice, but I would not limit myself to carbon.

    If I were shopping today I would look for something like this: Gitzo Mk2 G1566 MK2 Monopod 719821117605 | eBay Gitzo quality, short collapsed length, 3-series "Studex" model which means 32mm largest tube diameter. Strong like bull!
     
  8. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    665
    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    They do nothing for stability.

    They are a great benefit for some users, though. Some long tele sports and wildlife shooters and some video shooters find that they help support the camera/lens between shots by allowing a balanced camera+lens to stand on its own rather than requiring continuous hands on, making it easier to dig in you pockets or camera bag or to make some camera adjustments. They don't have a wide enough spread for safe support on their own. I would recommend a neck strap for safety.

    For myself, I just find them in the way when spread out and additional unneeded weight when collapsed.
     
  9. astrostl

    astrostl Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    532
    Oct 4, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Justin Honold
    When people go deep on details on *pods, I always feel like I'm missing the use-case boat.

    I have a Amazon.com : AmazonBasics 67-Inch Monopod : Camera & Photo , which I primarily use to reduce arm fatigue when doing a lot of shooting of a stage situation while having limited room (e.g. a charity ball). Other than tweaking with the screws a lot to find the right balance of mobility, it works out great for me. What upside would there be to an upgrade for me?
     
  10. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    I don't see the point of a ball head on a monopod. Just adds to the "3 hand problem". All I use is a Manfrotto 3232 (now 324). I prefer the simplicity of a screw mount but you can get it with a plate too. And there are cheaper options...
     
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  11. DanS

    DanS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    744
    Mar 8, 2016
    Central IL
    The 3 handed problem only exists with older or cheap ball heads. Some of the newer heads have a safety lock/bar that prevents the plate from coming out.

    My set up is a Sirui P-326 and Sirui C-10S, it's light and compact.
    [​IMG]

    To mount the camera hold the head in one hand and depress the red button. slide the camera in with the other hand and let go of the button. The camera can not slide out so you are free to use your hand to tighten down the clamp.
     
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  12. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Consider cases where the monopod is not vertical, like lashed to a tree or held with the tip far forward to, with your legs, approximate a tripod. Consider cases where you are shooting portrait/vertical format and have used up the one axis of movement available. Then, if your subject is not approximately horizontal relative to the camera you may not be able to tilt the monopod far enough up or far enough down to get the shot. To paraphrase your sentence, I don't see the point of not having as much freedom of movement as possible. What you can do with one of the "monopod heads" is necessarily a subset of what you can do with a ball.

    Example:

    full.

    For this little guy's portrait, I was seated in a game drive vehicle, shooting with a 100-400 cranked full to 400. The monopod tip was resting on the floor of the vehicle pressing against my left foot. The monopod was tilted maybe 30 degrees to the rear so the camera was beside my seat and it was tilted maybe 10 degrees away from me to brace against the roll bar frame. I simply could not have taken the shot with one of those monopod heads. And this was horizontal/landscape format. Trying to shoot vertical format would have been doubly impossible.

    IMO the single-axis monopod heads are based on a paradigm that the monopod is simply a vertical stick used to support the camera. For that kind of highly constrained shooting they are fine. From @asrostl's description of how he uses his monopod, it may be this paradigm and a single-axis head may be fine for him.

    Here are some techniques where IMO a single-axis head would be highly limiting: How to Hold a Monopod | Photography Mad.
     
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  13. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    Well, I'm not sure I'd characterize RRS, Acratech, et al as old or cheap but I had not seen that locking trick before. It's the kind of thing I have been looking for. Thanks for the point-out.
     
  14. Ig7

    Ig7 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    386
    Aug 24, 2011
    Everyone, thank you so much gor great advice and links. I ordered the Sirui and will try it with the ballhead i have after watching the instruction videos.
     
  15. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    My 3232 works perfectly fine in most cases, horizontal or vertical. And I don't have the floppy ball head syndrome.
    Gotta respectfully disagree. I find them very versatile.

    I don't find a plate useful. Rather just more kit to pack so not a problem for me.
     
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  16. retiredfromlife

    retiredfromlife Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 15, 2016
    Sydney, Australia
    I agree with most of the above and I use the Manfrotto Monopod Head with the RC2 plate. It only pivots one way so less chance of dropping the camera when attaching it. Unless you are Used to Monopods ball heads can be dangerous
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
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  17. DanS

    DanS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    744
    Mar 8, 2016
    Central IL
    You can see it better in this photo. when you push the red pin in the brass one goes down, when you release the red one the brass one pops back up.
    gx.
     
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  18. steveadams

    steveadams Mu-43 Veteran

    335
    Jun 16, 2016
    South Georgia
    Steve Adams
    I own an Oben ACM-2400L monopod that has the little legs and I can confirm what everyone is saying. Those small legs do nothing to provide a stable setup, the camera just wants to shake for any reason. The only good use for those legs are to turn the monopod into a light stand for a small flash. Much more than a small flash and it becomes too easy to tip over.

    I almost went with a monopod head but I talked myself out of it. I got a ballhead instead and I'm glad I did.
     
  19. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Walter
    Hey, @Ig7@Ig7, I know you're talking about your Hawaii trip. I'd go with a light monopod too instead of a tripod. There are times when you might want a tripod, like for a sunset or sunrise shot, or maybe a starry night, but you might get by with a pocket tripod for that. My friend had a Sirui P-326 carbon fiber monopod which was impressively compact, yet sturdy. There's also an aluminum version - P-306. I haven't used a monopod with the small legs as mentioned, but I think it would be minimally useful and get in the way. As someone else said, it may be useful if one is shooting video and rotating the monopod as one shoots, assuming the legs are connected with a balljoint or something.
     
  20. Ig7

    Ig7 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    386
    Aug 24, 2011
    I ordered the Sirui P-326.
    Thanks everyone! Joining this forum is the best thing I did since getting my first m4/3 :)
     
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