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03/28/2013 01:48:56 PM · #1
I think it's finally time for a monopod. I'm not hand holding the canon 100-400 lens very steady anymore. Does anyone have a monopod that they really like using with a big honkin', heavy lens?

Thanks!
03/28/2013 02:01:23 PM · #2
this is the one i have along with this monopod head.

i really like it. it's pretty hefty and sturdy. i don't have a 100-400 but it easily supports the 70-200 2.8is.
03/28/2013 02:01:41 PM · #3
I have this one from Gitzo. It's very compact and light and just stable enough to work with a relatively heavy lens. You can get other models with fewer sections if compactness isn't important for a little more stability though I find this one fine for a 5D+70-200f4.
Gitzo 2561T

And this is the head I use with mine that tilts nice and has the useful arca-swiss release that is compatible with my ballheads. They make a newer version now called the MPA-2 which looks improved and possibly lighter, though I think I only paid a little over $100 for mine.
Kirk Swivel Head
03/28/2013 02:07:23 PM · #4
Just like with a tripod, the main factors are length, weight, sturdiness, and price, and you can spend a lot of money for a lightweight, travel friendly carbon fiber one, or you can get a cheaper aluminum one. If you're tall, you need to worry about the extended length. If you're planning on travelling, you might want one that folds down smaller. They can have anywhere between 3 and 6 sections. The 5 and 6 section ones fold down small, but the last section might be the size of a pencil.

Unlike tripods, though, monopods are light enough that getting an expensive carbon fiber one doesn't gain you a lot of weight savings.

The Manfrotto 680B is a good mix of sturdy and cheap. Mine managed to get all gunked up with sand somewhere along the line, and I'm too lazy to clean it out, but it still works fine.

I'm going on a trip where I have strict weight limits, so I'm looking for a smaller, lighter one and considering the expensive Gitzos, but the expensive ones aren't strictly necessary to get good pictures.

Then there's the discussion of whether or not you want a head, and if you want a head, what do you want....
03/28/2013 02:18:17 PM · #5
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03/28/2013 02:21:42 PM · #6
Wendy, been looking for a while. The monopod head for me has been the biggest "issue" in terms of expense. Looking for an Arca-type monopod swivel/tilt head to fit a lens plate, and the usual culprits of Really Right Stuff, Kirk and Accratech are all +$150 for the monopod head with clamp.

If you skip the head and use a clamp straight on the monopod, things get a lot cheaper.
03/28/2013 03:34:09 PM · #7
Originally posted by gcoulson:

Wendy, been looking for a while. The monopod head for me has been the biggest "issue" in terms of expense. Looking for an Arca-type monopod swivel/tilt head to fit a lens plate, and the usual culprits of Really Right Stuff, Kirk and Accratech are all +$150 for the monopod head with clamp.

If you skip the head and use a clamp straight on the monopod, things get a lot cheaper.


You can also skip the clamp entirely, and just screw the lens or camera straight onto the monopod, and it gets cheaper still. Lots of professional PJ's do this all the time, probably because they rent lenses a lot, which don't come with quick release plates.

I personally use a Manfrotto 234 tilt head with a Kirk clamp. It works fine for my 300 f/4.
03/28/2013 03:37:51 PM · #8
Ann, while it works, im not a fan of having to screw/unscrew my lens when I want go use it or change it out.

How sturdy have you found the 234? I think its rated for 5.5lbs if memory serves correct. However, my 7D + grip + wpp-400 is over that limit, wondering if it has enough to hold it.
03/28/2013 03:43:34 PM · #9
I have the Manfrotto 681B with 486RC2 ball head, works just fine with 7D + grip + 100-400mm lens
03/28/2013 03:44:27 PM · #10
Does anyone make a monopod with little tripod feet on it for increased stability?
03/28/2013 03:50:50 PM · #11
Originally posted by gcoulson:

Ann, while it works, im not a fan of having to screw/unscrew my lens when I want go use it or change it out.

How sturdy have you found the 234? I think its rated for 5.5lbs if memory serves correct. However, my 7D + grip + wpp-400 is over that limit, wondering if it has enough to hold it.


I went without a head for a long time. My only complaint was that the camera and monopod straps would get tangled when screwing and unscrewing. There's just as much screwing and unscrewing with a quick release plate, but in a different direction.

As far as the sturdiness of the 234...It seems fine to me. I bought it after reading others on the internet saying it worked for them. My setup with the D800+2xTC+300/4 is definitely over 5.5 pounds, and it's just fine. It's obviously the weak link in the system, but it seems okay. I figure if I rent something heavier, I can just remove the head.
03/28/2013 03:51:34 PM · #12
Originally posted by PuppyDogMom:

Does anyone make a monopod with little tripod feet on it for increased stability?


Yes.

edit...added the link. There are other brands, this is just the first I found.

Message edited by author 2013-03-28 15:52:59.
03/28/2013 04:27:22 PM · #13
Originally posted by PuppyDogMom:

Does anyone make a monopod with little tripod feet on it for increased stability?

I got one of these type of monopods once as it was almost free on close-out and I was curious. I now use it to hold light modifiers as though it will hold your camera up on its own like a tripod, it is far from stable and steady. You really can't expect to use a shutter speed any slower than you can pull off with a monopod to work out for such a thing. It might be useful to get you in the picture instead of having to stay with the camera, but be forewarned it won't be very stable and there is a high probability it will get knocked over by a person or even a little wind.
03/28/2013 04:30:40 PM · #14
Little feet are pretty much good for holding monopod standing and that's it. I would never trust them to support any of my equipment.
03/28/2013 04:53:56 PM · #15
Don't be shy about trying the different techniques for monopoding, they can increase your stability.
03/29/2013 05:37:21 AM · #16
Originally posted by PuppyDogMom:

Does anyone make a monopod with little tripod feet on it for increased stability?


These supports SEEM like a good idea but in fact hinder proper use of a monopod as illustrated by ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' alfresco's link.

I have an older Gitzo Studex 1564 that is a beast but works very well. I got a good deal on it and it was in perfect condition. At the time, I was comparing it to the 681 from Manfrotto, which is made pretty well and should work for most applications. It does not extend/collapse as nicely as the Gitzo I got, but it is a bit lighter. Specifically, it has some wobble when extending/collapsing, but is very solid once locked. I got my Gitzo for less or near what I could purchase the Manfrotto, so it was a nobrainer for me. For the head, I took a bit of a gamble and got a cheaper one, and have had zero complaints other than its weight. I've banged it around and it's gotten dirty/wet/snowy and all that but no issues yet.
Here's where I talk about what I got- cheap monopod ballhead.

I'm not sure what QR system you use, but I prefer AS so if I feel the need to get a different head, I have more options for cross compatibility and all that since I'm not confined to a single brand.

Message edited by author 2013-03-29 05:43:38.
03/29/2013 09:15:50 AM · #17
I was asking about tripod feet not because I wanted it to support the camera, but rather provide a little extra support from what might be a wobbly monopod. Of course, the wobblyness would come from my own person. Thanks for the links and the suggestions.
03/29/2013 09:17:40 AM · #18
Re the OP, Wendy, you are welcome to try the one I use Gittos B&H while you are here next week if you don't have one by then. It is a 5 section, so it gets short enough to pack in luggage. It comes with both 1/4 and 3/8 attachment threads, so you can put whatever you want to use on it.

The only issue that I have with it after using it almost daily for 7 years is that the QR plate can get a little motion in it if you don't tighten the locking screw. Since I don't care to use QR plates, I just tightened the screw with pliers and leave it on the monopod.

The 3 legs unscrew out of the foot and store inside the tube. Two can also be screwed into the flange below the head, so it can be used as a 10 inch tall tripod for things close to the ground, or for stabilizing it against a wall. I use it a lot with one of the legs screwed into the flange and held against my neck to stabilize the rig in two planes while shooting "on the run" and for panning shots.

I finally decided that a ball head would be useful on it, so I have a small but very solid Manfrotto one on it now.

I trust it enough to do this kind of stuff with it.
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03/29/2013 09:37:54 AM · #19
Originally posted by PuppyDogMom:

I was asking about tripod feet not because I wanted it to support the camera, but rather provide a little extra support from what might be a wobbly monopod. Of course, the wobblyness would come from my own person. Thanks for the links and the suggestions.


But this is exactly what I mean- A vertically held monopod is not in fact stable, which is the only way you can hold one of those with the legs. You need to angle, brace, and use your body in concert with the mono for it to have the most benefit. Use the mono combined with your body as a tripod, if you will. A mono, on its own, will never be sturdy. It's the same reason I strongly urge people to get a tripod that doesn't require the extension of the center column- it decreases stability IMMENSELY.
03/29/2013 10:01:46 AM · #20
So it almost sounds like any monopod will do, and the question is whether or not you want a head on it.

Is a monopod really worth the money? Are you gaining that much stability with it? Even if you are using the bracing methods, you're still bracing it against an unstable object (me). :)

I have enough money for one, but I was saving it for other things. But I've been kicking around this idea for so long, and my hand held shots are getting a lot worse.

Am I going to get really irritated when the Great Blue Heron I've been shooting suddenly takes off and I am stuck with this long stick attached to the camera? Am going to want a head on it immediately so I can be prepared to follow the bird? Or can I maneuver it well enough without a head?

(Thanks, Waddy, by the way... :)
03/29/2013 10:24:46 AM · #21
By most accounts, depending on technique, a mono cam give you 1-2 stops extra stability. Whether that will help is subjective.

I honestly think a ballhead on a monopod is too much. A swivel/tilt head is more than enough. That gives you vertical flexibility, and rotation around the pod axis gives you horizontal flexibility.
03/29/2013 10:32:45 AM · #22
Originally posted by gcoulson:

By most accounts, depending on technique, a mono cam give you 1-2 stops extra stability. Whether that will help is subjective.

I honestly think a ballhead on a monopod is too much. A swivel/tilt head is more than enough. That gives you vertical flexibility, and rotation around the pod axis gives you horizontal flexibility.


He's really got a point here, and I'll admit I got my beefy one because I could foresee myself clamping/weighting/otherwise using my mono as a tripod by locking it into place using a backpack or boulders or some such. But here's the thing- you can decrease the locking force of a good ballhead and still swivel nicely and still regain some nice mobility. I guess it goes down to how comfortable you are with a BH. If I'm planning on birds in flight, I'd lock out the length and make the head somewhat stiff, and then put my leading foot out while in a kneeling position, with the tip of the mono lined up against my foot. As needed, I'd rotate, swivel, tilt, with nary an adjustment on the head, which needn't bear the FULL weight, just ENOUGH weight to make your light easier.
03/29/2013 12:16:07 PM · #23
Originally posted by vawendy:

So it almost sounds like any monopod will do, and the question is whether or not you want a head on it.

Is a monopod really worth the money? Are you gaining that much stability with it? Even if you are using the bracing methods, you're still bracing it against an unstable object (me). :)

I have enough money for one, but I was saving it for other things. But I've been kicking around this idea for so long, and my hand held shots are getting a lot worse.

Am I going to get really irritated when the Great Blue Heron I've been shooting suddenly takes off and I am stuck with this long stick attached to the camera? Am going to want a head on it immediately so I can be prepared to follow the bird? Or can I maneuver it well enough without a head?

(Thanks, Waddy, by the way... :)

I think you will want some sort of head for a monopod right away. It might be possible to lean over a monopod with no head into a position to get a shot, but then it will be highly unlikely it ends up in a position/angle that lends well to you bracing it for stability with your body. With my monopod which is pretty light, I find it pretty easy to just lift up the camera on the spur of the moment and shoot (almost) as though I have nothing attached to the camera if need be. I find it quite comfortable to collapse the monopod all the way and just leave it attached to my camera while walking around and shooting without support (possibly one reason to go with a light and compact one if it can still be stable enough to meet your needs).
03/29/2013 02:32:02 PM · #24
I bought a 3 section aluminium Manfrotto a few years back with a small ball head. While I like the pod, I have been skipping the head since the first few months. For me, it did not seem to give enough functionality to justify the extra fiddling and weight. I just screw the pod directly into the collar and tilt as needed. Of course most of what I shoot is on a single plane sports and the like. For stuff like birds, I still use the tripod. With a ball head on a monopod I felt like I needed an extra arm or two, one for the shutter one at the end of a long lens, one to adjust the tension on the ball.
Another advantage of the mono pods is they make a nice walking stick and threatening looking baton, depending on what environment you are shooting in.

Message edited by author 2013-03-30 14:57:16.
03/29/2013 04:36:05 PM · #25
I use the monopod pretty much anytime I'm using a heavy lens, including for most macros. I don't have the muscles to hold the big lenses steady without help, and the monopod makes all the difference.

As far as chasing birds in flight, if I have someplace to set up, I'd much rather use a tripod and gimbal head. But if you're going to use a monopod, you don't need a ballhead, because the monopod already moves freely along the horizontal axis. You might want a tilt head, though.

I tried playing with putting my gimbal head onto the monopod once, just to see what would happen. If the monopod is clamped to something sturdy, this could be viable, but for a freestanding monopod, there were too many degrees of freedom, and it struck me as being a very good way to break perfectly good camera gear.
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