Are you an ambitious photographer who is looking for decision-making help when choosing support for his heavy photographic equipment such as a DSLR camera with telephoto lenses?
This article describes the advantages and disadvantages of monopods, explains technical and
physical facts, and makes recommendations based on a monopod.
Note: For photographers with light cameras (pocket, compact and bridge cameras), the purchase of any monopod available today is a luxury that can only be used to a limited extent.
What is a monopod exactly?
As the word monopod clearly expresses, it’s the same as a tripod, only with one leg. In the meantime, there are also monopods with an additional three-legged spider or three feet on the floor working as a self-standing base, e.g. Manfrotto.
Basically, the monopod is not a tripod, as it cannot hold or stand independently on one leg. The monopod supports the photographer by bearing the weight of the camera system.
Advantages of the monopod
Monopods are suitable for photo and film recordings and are very light. Depending on the material and total height, the total weight is less than one kilogram. They are therefore also suitable for carrying at long distances and can also be transported relatively easily due to the small pack size.
Especially with heavy camera systems, monopods reduce the neck and back pain that inevitably occurs when the camera equipment is constantly held.
Monopods are very agile, allow quick reactions, and enable quick repositioning. Even well-trained sports photographers work with a monopod.
The length can vary depending on the number of leg segments, but the volume of the tripod is very small as it consists of only one tube.
Monopods are relatively inexpensive, are relatively stable, can be provided with a quick-release plate, allowing you to work even in confined spaces.
For video, monopods can improve recordings because you can hold the camera much more steadily with a heavy lens than with your hand. As they reduce vibrations and the unsightly shaking of the recordings in video recordings, which often occurs when filming by hand, monopods facilitate panning and recording of moving subjects.
Where can I use a monopod?
The monopod is a special type of tripod that is only worthwhile for a few purposes. Monopods are used:
- For sports photography
- For taking photographs of animals
- For macro photography of flying species, e.g., dragonflies on flowers, butterflies on leaves, birds.
A tripod is often too bulky, especially in difficult terrain, as it is not uncommon for it to touch the bush or the leaves on which the insects are sitting or to make too much noise when moving.
It is also useful for panning with a moving object and at the same time blurring the background, for quick panorama shots when a perfectly aligned horizon plane is not required. Photo editing software can correct this afterward.
Best materials for monopods
Monopods are mostly made of aluminum or carbon fiber reinforced plastic. Technically, carbon is currently considered to be the absolute top material in monopod construction because of the following:
- High strength, high breaking, and tensile strength/tear strength
- High modulus of elasticity
- High chemical and temperature resistance
- Low coefficient of thermal expansion, i.e. it hardly warps in cold or heat
- High torsional rigidity
- Looks classy
The cost of monopods
Since these are special tripods for special applications, which are more suitable for professionals, the range is surprisingly small. Not even all tripod manufacturers have monopod models at all.
In view of the small number of units, the price is relatively high, especially when you take into account that it is only a single tube without major technical requirements.
For light camera systems, there are already very inexpensive monopods, such as Amazon brand for around $16 with a 3 kg load, Braun monopod for around $14 with a 3 kg load, or Manfrotto with a 3 kg load.
However, as the load increases, the monopods quickly become more than $100. With high-quality tilters, carbon monopods can also reach the $1,000 mark.
Which monopod brand to choose?
Consider all manufacturers of monopods to be suitable: They all make good to very good products. Before you can choose, buy or evaluate a monopod, understand your own area of application in detail and you will be able to choose the best model for your needs.