using a ball head on a monopod?

ac12

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Rather than derailing other threads.
I have read where others have used a ball head on a monopod.
I have never done that, and am now curious.

Can those of you who do use a ball head on your monopod, talk about it and how you use it.
What is the benefit over not using a ball head?

Thanks
 

John King

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My Manfrotto 322RC2 grip ball head:

https://www.manfrotto.com/au-en/grip-ball-head-ergonomic-handle-and-friction-control-wheel-322rc2/

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Makes using the monopod like dancing with a partner.

You plant the monopod foot somewhere sensible, then 'waltz' the top end with the grip squeezed. Release grip when all is aligned properly. Take photo. Sling the lot over your shoulder, or use as a walking stick to next photo opportunity.
 
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jhawk1000

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I have used a ball head but did not really like it. On a monopod, I use the Manfrotto tilt head with Arca Swiss camera clamp. My only concern then is one adjustment and a turn with the monopod itself being the other adjustment.
It seemed as if I was always adjusting the ball head.
 

Nam-in-Sonoma

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For monopod you need a head that would move up and down only instead of a ballhead that would move all direction...here is just an example

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Holoholo55

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I've used a ballhead on most of my monopods. First, a Slik Lighty Pod III, which was not up to the task of heavier M43 gear. Then my MeFoto Roadtrip with detachable leg. With regular center column, it was too long and awkward. With short column, it's handy but a little too short. But, I found that a ballhead made using the monopod easier and more stable. That's because I could plant the tip in a position to give me a good three point stance (the other two being my feet) and yet be able to tilt and move the camera wherever I needed to point it. Didn't have to tilt the whole monopod to aim. I'd loosen the ball slightly, move the camera to where it needed to be, and then locked it. While one could do this with a one-way tilthead, you're still limited to two axes of movement. Up and down (pitch), and rotate (yaw) around the axis of the monopod. With the ballhead, you can tilt (roll) too, which is great for leveling your horizon even if you're not on level ground. You could even flop it over for portrait shots. I've gotten used to it and now won't use a monopod without it. So, I vote yes on ballhead. I'm getting a short Sirui P-326 monopod and a Sirui head to put on it. It'll still be short enough to pack into a backpack or bag, and get tall enough to shoot up into the trees. Best of both worlds. And, if I need to, I can use the ballhead on something else.

Just try a ballhead from one of your tripods. Test it out.
 
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retiredfromlife

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I used to use the Manfrotto Mono Pod heads but now use cheap ball heads on my mono pods.
My main use for mono pods is to help hold the camera steady for macro work. Since using the mono pod for macro work my keeper rate has vastly improoved.
Using a ball head has made it much easier to orientate the camera as I chase spiders around their webs etc, as the camera is constantly changing angle as well as orientation. If that makes sense
 

Hendrik

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Another ballhead/monopod user here. The advantage of the ballhead is that the point of contact of the monopod with whatever provides the firmest purchase can be chosen independently of the aim of the camera. In this way the ensemble becomes much more versatile. I can orient the monopod ahead of the camera and just out of the lens' fov to make close focusing far more reliable, taking my lower back largely out of the equation. Since the monopod is longer than the lens' minimum focus distance I can steady the monopod somewhere on the tree (or rock, or whatever) I'm shooting. It can be the third leg of a "tripod". For assisted handholding I can stream the monopod to the rear of the camera and rest it on my shoulder or in the crook of my arm to give aid and succour to the IBIS. Where there is nothing particularly firm available, I can catch the monopod's foot in my belt. Or, on snowshoes, I can rest the monopod's foot on the deck of the snowshoe or in my shoelaces.
 

Holoholo55

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Another ballhead/monopod user here. The advantage of the ballhead is that the point of contact of the monopod with whatever provides the firmest purchase can be chosen independently of the aim of the camera. In this way the ensemble becomes much more versatile. I can orient the monopod ahead of the camera and just out of the lens' fov to make close focusing far more reliable, taking my lower back largely out of the equation. Since the monopod is longer than the lens' minimum focus distance I can steady the monopod somewhere on the tree (or rock, or whatever) I'm shooting. It can be the third leg of a "tripod". For assisted handholding I can stream the monopod to the rear of the camera and rest it on my shoulder or in the crook of my arm to give aid and succour to the IBIS. Where there is nothing particularly firm available, I can catch the monopod's foot in my belt. Or, on snowshoes, I can rest the monopod's foot on the deck of the snowshoe or in my shoelaces.
Good point. Using a ballhead gives you the ability to use the monopod in a lot of different ways. As you say, you could put the foot out in front and lean against it to steady the camera.
 

Mike Wingate

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I am a big fan of monopods. My first tripod, a decent Cullmann alloy model, had a removable centre column that telescoped into a monopod. I used this with a Cullman neck/shoulder strap with a small pouch. In the fold to seat my monopod. So very little adjustment to make as the monopod foot is always in the strap pouch. Never on the ground. So I can stand, kneel, crouch and the eyepiece is always where I want it to be. 45 years on, I still use the same strap for monopod use. The tripod holds my archery target spotting scope, in use 3 or 4 times a week.
 

oldracer

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I have been using ball heads on monopods for years. IMO the people that design those single-axis tilt "monopod heads" are brain dead. They are stuck in the paradigm that a monopod is a vertical stick that supports the camera or a long lens. That paradigm is fine for sidelines sports photographers but there much more in the world than that.

Here is an example (February this year in Botswana) of using a ball head on a monopod where a single-axis tilt would be useless:

IMG_20200226_072755-2-lores.jpg
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The tip of the monopod is stabilized against my left foot on the floor of the game drive vehicle. The monopod is tilted to the right, braced against my right leg, and tilted to the rear for comfortable shooting. The ball head sorts out all the angles to give me the shot. It is an Acratech GPS with an Acratech lever Arca clamp. The Acratecy locking lever is perfect for this because it is very fast to engage and it won't release the camera if bumped. (Unlike the RRS lever BTW.)

I am shooting two bodies here, so the monopod camera/lens is on a conventional neck strap that allows me to drop it into my lap quickly. The second body is on a glide strap to my left. (The speckled cord is the glide strap cord, caught on the other camera. Sorry.)

There are tons of ways to use a monopod besides making it a vertical stick. For example, tilted to the rear and braced against a leg when standing or tilted forward where it becomes the third leg of a tripod where the shooter's other two legs make the rest. I have also bungee-strapped a monopod to a stable object for a low light shot --the odd angles you get with this technique require the ball.

FWIW you need a ball of some size (1 1/2", 2") for smoothness but super high-end balls are not necessary. They are excellent for easily making small adjustments, but the small adjustments can usually be made by turning or tilting the monopod.

HTH.
 
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I re purposed Sirui P-326 CF monopod with a heavy-duty ballhead from Vanguard from D500 days to macro shooting on EM1.2. After mounting, I kept the tension knob slightly loose so that I could move the camera on the fly and yet have some support. Ballhead allows movement in all the direction which I preferred over tilt heads. I think ballhead on a monopod is a neat idea.
 

ThereAndBackAgain

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In my struggle to advance my photography from total ignorance to the dizzy heights of mere incompetence, I use either a copy of a Manfrotto tilt head or a RedSnapper ball head on my Sirui P-302. Both have their advantages and neither is perfect: from this point of view they suit me well enough.
 

Mike Wingate

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I find that the ball head used on a monopod, need not be too tight, you are supporting the camera body and lens with your hands, unlike a tripod, where it may tilt. Tight enough to allow that extra bit of movement and flexibility in use.
 

oldracer

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I find that the ball head used on a monopod, need not be too tight, you are supporting the camera body and lens with your hands, unlike a tripod, where it may tilt. Tight enough to allow that extra bit of movement and flexibility in use.
Yes. Excellent point. Some ballheads, like my Acratech have two knobs. One sets the tension and the other is used to lock and unlock the ball. Like Mike, I set my ball tension to "not too tight." You don't want it loose and flopping around because that pretty much eliminates the camera stability that the monopod provides but it doesn't take a lot of tension to settle things down.
 

Holoholo55

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Here a video explaining the different between the tilt head and ball head when using monopod

Understood. The ballhead, with unrestricted movements, would be more difficult to control on a monopod. But, as he shows here, his hand is never off the camera when the ballhead/tilthead is unlocked. It's up to us to secure the movement of the camera. He also has the tension control loosened. If one has a tension control knob on the ballhead, it makes sense to tighten it enough to provide a little resistance. That would help with control. With a ballhead, you have to maintain better control of the camera, but at least you have those unrestricted axes of movement if you need them. I'm OK with that. :)
 

oldracer

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Here a video explaining the different between the tilt head and ball head when using monopod. ...
Guy is completely clueless or he knows better but wants to sell tilt heads to people who already own perfectly good ball heads. I especiall like the way he adjusts the ball head to be loose and floppy, then blames the ball head for being loose and floppy. I'd like to see him do a demo with the monopod tilted seriously off vertical left or right, which is often the case with people who really understand how to use monopods.

From a quick look:
https://photographylife.com/how-to-use-a-monopod
https://www.wikihow.com/Use-a-Monopod
I have also shot with the monopod lashed to a fence post, which pretty much guarantees that it will be at an odd angle.

If the monopod is used strictly as a vertical stick, though, in many cases you may not need a head at all.
 

Holoholo55

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@ac12, I think Nam-in-Sonoma's post raised a good point. If you get a ballhead for your monopod, maybe it's a good idea to get one that has a tension control knob for the ball. Then you can adjust the friction so the camera doesn't just flop over when you unlock the ball. Of course, you'd have your hand on it anyway before unlocking anything. I ordered a Sirui ballhead to use on another tripod, but now I think I might use it on the monopod instead because it has a tension knob.

The other good reason to use a ballhead or tilthead on your monopod is because you get a QR adapter in the process. That's essential.

BTW, Sirui has a 15% rebate coupon on everything except their anamorphic lens. I'll be using it. :)
 
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oldracer

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@ac12, I think Nam-in-Sonoma's post raised a good point. If you get a ballhead for your monopod, maybe it's a good idea to get one that has a tension control knob for the ball. Then you can adjust the friction so the camera just doesn't flop over when you unlock the ball. Of course, you'd have your hand on it anyway before unlocking anything. ...
I agree; having a separate friction knob is very nice. I have used small cheap ballheads from time to time/ones with no separate friction knob. I just use the main knob to set an acceptable friction setting and then pretty much leave it alone. I wouldn't suggest that the absence of a separate friction knob is a show stopper but as others have observed it is definitely nice to have.
 
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