How to Buy and Use A Monopod

Friday, 22 October 2010 15:08

A monopod isn't a replacement for a tripod it is a very different creature. But the monopod is easier to carry, easier to move around, lighter than the tripod. In fact, the monopod will open new photo opportunities for you .

 

 

 

A tripod is a stable shooting platform and works best for long exposures and subjects that don't move around much. A monopod isn't a replacement for a tripod it is a very different creature. But the monopod is easier to carry, easier to move around, lighter than the tripod. In fact, the monopod will open new photo opportunities for you that did not exist if the camera was handheld or attached to a tripod. It's a supplementary support that provides a support for longer than usually exposure times, for long telephoto lenses and for reaching over the heads in a crowd.Having only one leg a monopod takes up less space than a tripod which is the reason it's a favorite with sports and press photographers who have to work in crowded situations. And naturally because it is lighter and smaller than a tripod, a monopod is an good alternative for photography when hiking or on a vacation trip.

carbon fiber monopod

 

Buying a monopod.

Monopods come in many sizes and weights. The larger and heavier the monopod the more it will cost. Monopods price begin at about $20 USD and can go as high as a couple of hundred dollars.

Buying a monopod consider these three factors.

The first is the monopod's fully extended height. A monopod (or tripod for that matter) should raise your camera a few inches higher than your eyelevel so when you brace yourself with the monopod the camera will be at your eyelevel.

Next consider the monopod's fully collapsed size. Especially for camping, hiking and traveling you might want a find a monopod that collapses to 18 inches rather than 24 inches. Finally consider the material the monopod is made of. Aluminum monopods are heavier but much cheaper than carbon-fiber pods. Again think about what you'll use the monopod for and whether weight will be an issue.

 

Like a tripod a monopod telescope open using either flip locks or screw locks. Both systems work well but flip locks are faster and easier to use.

Monopods generally come with a standard screw thread mount. You can screw the monopod directly into your camera's tripod socket or you can buy a separate "head" for the monopod. The head adds makes it easier to mount the camera to the monopod and to frame images. There are dozens of heads that fit either a tripod or monopod on your camera. You can choose from "ball" heads, "pan" heads and "geared" heads.

A monopod foot may be either rubber padded, spiked (or both), or on a few a little three legged foot. A rubber foot is the most common and works in most environments. Spiked feet are best for camping or shooting on a sports field. You can also buy a suction cup foot attachment that helps make the monopod more stable.

 

Using a monopod

The monopod has one leg instead of the standard three legs on the tripod. So, what are the options for using the monopod? The first option of standing the monopod perpendicular to the ground is NOT an option. There is no pressure to the left, to the right, to the front, downward or to the back to keep the monopod from moving. Try it and see for yourself with your monopod. If you don't have a monopod, use a wooden dowel or a broomstick. All the following options are described based on a person looking trough the camera with the right eye and using your right hand on the shutter release.

 

How to Use A Monopod How to Use A Monopod Option 1:

Figure 1 displays the left foot and the right foot in black color. The red circle indicates the position of the bottom of the monopod leg. The standard setup for the monopod is in the three legged position. The three legs consist of your left leg, your right leg plus the single leg of the monopod. This position copies the form of the standard tripod. But it is the weakest position of all the monopod options. The left and the right foot may either be parallel to each other or both feet may be slightly opened to a 10 degree angle. Practice this position without the monopod to decide on the exact position of the right and the left foot. Depending on the length of the tripod, it placed approximately 2 feet in front of your two feet. The monopod is at approximately a 20 degree angle. By using the ball head, the camera can be positioned vertically as well as horizontally. Bring the camera as close to your chest as possible and tuck your two elbows as close to the side of your body as possible, too. With your left hand, hold the top of the monopod and the bottom of the camera and exert gentle pressure down the length of the monopod to the ground. This will stabilize the monopod so that the leg does slip on the ground as well as moving forward. Another option is to use the right hand on top of the monopod instead of the left hand thus freeing the left hand if the left hand is needed for another purpose. The two elbows tucked into your body stop the monopod from moving right or left. The pressure of left hand stops the monopod from moving front to back. Practice using the monopod with option 1 until you feel extremely natural and comfortable.

 

 

How to Use A Monopod How to Use A Monopod Option 2:

Figure 2 displays the left foot forward and the right foot back in black color. The red circle indicates the position of the bottom of the monopod leg. Option 2 is based on a right handed person. Reverse the position by having the left foot in front if needed. Option 2 is a very stable position with the left foot forward and the right foot in back. The left foot is not faced perfectly forward as the foot is approximately 10 degrees off of facing forward. The right foot is almost parallel to the left foot. It does not matter if the left foot faces forward and the right foot is at 90 degrees to the right foot. The important element is that your body is perfectly stable and does not lean from side to side of from front to back. The left leg is slightly bent. Practice this position without the monopod to decide on the exact position of the right and the left foot. Think of this position as a stable karate position similar the horse position. In karate, no matter which direction the force approaches, you will remain completely stable. Set the monopod next the instep of the right foot. This will stop the monopod from moving to the right or to the rear. Bend your left leg slightly and place the monopod next to the upper thigh of the left leg. The monopod now be at a 20 degree angle to the body and slightly tilting forward. With your left hand, hold the top of the monopod and the bottom of the camera and exert gentle pressure down the length of the monopod to the ground as well as slightly to the left. The pressure of the monopod to the left thigh will keep the monopod from moving to the left. This also will stabilize the monopod so that the leg does slip on the ground as well as moving forward. The monopod is now in a very stable position to pan from side to side and up or down. Vertical and horizontal photographs are possible. Another option is to use the right hand on top of the monopod instead of the left hand thus freeing the left hand if the left hand is needed for another purpose. Practice using the monopod with option 2 until you feel extremely natural and comfortable.

 

How to Use A Monopod How to Use A Monopod Option 3:

Figure 3 displays the left foot and the right foot in black color. The red circle indicates the position of the bottom of the monopod leg. Option 2 is based on a right handed person. Reverse the position by having the left foot in front if needed. The left and the right foot may either be parallel to each other or both feet may be slightly opened to a 10 degree angle. Practice this position without the monopod to decide on the exact position of the right and the left foot. Think of this position as a stable karate position similar the horse position. In karate, no matter which direction the force approaches, you will remain completely stable. Set the monopod through your legs and approximately 3-5 inches in back of your left foot. Your height and the flexibility of the monopod will determine the exact placement of the monopod. Bend your left leg slightly and place the monopod next to the upper thigh of the left leg while wrapping the monopod around the inside of the left leg. The monopod will approximately be a 20 degree angle to the body and slightly tilting forward. With your left hand, hold the top of the monopod and the bottom of the camera and exert gentle pressure down the length of the monopod to the ground as well as slightly to the left. This will bend the monopod ever so slightly. If the monopod does not easily bend, place the bottom of the monopod closer to the left foot. The pressure of the monopod to the left thigh will keep the monopod from moving to the left. This also will stabilize the monopod so that the leg does slip on the ground as well as moving forward. The monopod is now in a very stable position to pan from side to side and up or down. Vertical and horizontal photographs are possible. Another option is to use the right hand on top of the monopod instead of the left hand thus freeing the left hand if the left hand is needed for another purpose. Practice using the monopod with option 3 until you feel extremely natural and comfortable.

 

How to Use A Monopod Option 4:

Option 4 consists of the monopod stabilizer pouch. The monopod pouch is worn on the OTG belt (see also the Camera & Belt Section). When you are on-the-go, the monopod is closed to the shortest length (about 10-14 inches). The monopod and camera is ready for any photo opportunity. If a camera needs to be steady for a fast and opportunistic photo moment, the monopod may be placed into the monopod pouch for instant stability. Hold the camera with the left hand close to the body. This will stabilize the monopod. Spread your feet for the most stable position for taking a photograph. Practice using the monopod with option 4 until you feel extremely natural and comfortable.

 

 

 

Practice your breathing techniques and as well as your shutter control with your monopod to produce the sharpest photographs possible.

 

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Last Updated on Monday, 25 October 2010 14:24
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