September 6, 2008

Monopods

You can’t always carry a tripod. Sometimes, a monopod will do. Monopods (also called unipods) are usually lighter and smaller than tripods, but don’t offer the same level of stability.

Monopods do offer some obvious advantages. They are less expensive than tripods and they are light enough to carry almost anywhere. They allow you to compose and shoot almost as fast as you would if you were hand-holding, where tripods require you to take more time.

One way to make the monopod more valuable is to mount an “Arca-Swiss” style tongue and groove head on the monopod and a corresponding plate on the camera or lens. Kirk Photo is a good source for both.

When using a monopod, I like to wear loose-fitting loafer style shoes and then I anchor the monopod inside my shoe against my foot for added stability. Another popular technique is to use your own two legs in conjunction with the monopod making a three-legged tripod.

Many unipods can also be used as a “chestpod,” or “beltpod,” meaning that the foot of the unipod (sometimes with a special adapter) can rest on the belt, waist, or chest, of the photographer. The result is that the camera is held more steadily than by hand alone (though not as steadily as when the foot is planted on the ground), and the camera/unipod is completely mobile, traveling with the photographer’s movements.

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This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store

Join the conversation! 20 Comments

  1. Hey Scott,

    just wondering what kind of software you are using to manage your photos in the field? You’re posting some in these blogs so I imagine you’re not just dumping all the images to be organized when you get home.

    Reply
  2. Hey Scott,

    just wondering what kind of software you are using to manage your photos in the field? You’re posting some in these blogs so I imagine you’re not just dumping all the images to be organized when you get home.

    Reply
  3. By the way that wolf shot is absolutely gorgeous….

    Reply
  4. By the way that wolf shot is absolutely gorgeous….

    Reply
  5. I always have a monopod around whenever I’m taking pictures. It is a very useful tool in a low light condition. With a monopod, I can get the shutter speed at least a couple stops slower, and even more if I can find a wall or a tree to lean against. Another trick I’ve learned from a friend is to bring a nylon rope along, which is very light and can stabilized the monopod even more.

    Reply
  6. I always have a monopod around whenever I’m taking pictures. It is a very useful tool in a low light condition. With a monopod, I can get the shutter speed at least a couple stops slower, and even more if I can find a wall or a tree to lean against. Another trick I’ve learned from a friend is to bring a nylon rope along, which is very light and can stabilized the monopod even more.

    Reply
  7. I love my monopod. On photo walks and shoots where I am moving around a lot, the monopod is my best friend (along with fast glass – great for bokeh on portraits too!) Believe it or not, I spent $20 on one from Wal-Mart, and haven’t looked back. True, you get what you pay for, but with a monopod all you can expect is to limit movement on one plane. Camera shake can happen on any one of three planes: up and down, left to right, and front to back. Monopods minimize the up and down movement. Since they only minimize movement on the one plane, it’s kind of hard to justify any significant expense on such items.

    Great post here though – because they can be very useful, even in their limited capacity. Although I must admit that most people I know refer to them as monopods, not unipods. Guess that’s just semantics though. Hope you’re enjoying Alaska! Can’t wait to see the pics from it!

    Reply
  8. I love my monopod. On photo walks and shoots where I am moving around a lot, the monopod is my best friend (along with fast glass – great for bokeh on portraits too!) Believe it or not, I spent $20 on one from Wal-Mart, and haven’t looked back. True, you get what you pay for, but with a monopod all you can expect is to limit movement on one plane. Camera shake can happen on any one of three planes: up and down, left to right, and front to back. Monopods minimize the up and down movement. Since they only minimize movement on the one plane, it’s kind of hard to justify any significant expense on such items.

    Great post here though – because they can be very useful, even in their limited capacity. Although I must admit that most people I know refer to them as monopods, not unipods. Guess that’s just semantics though. Hope you’re enjoying Alaska! Can’t wait to see the pics from it!

    Reply
  9. Great tips Scott, thanks!

    Reply
  10. Great tips Scott, thanks!

    Reply
  11. i have also found that if you secure a loop of cord to the mono-pod and by dropping it to the ground you can stand on the cord the one or both feet (both would create a triangle). this will add extra tension against the pod and give a little more stability.

    Reply
  12. i have also found that if you secure a loop of cord to the mono-pod and by dropping it to the ground you can stand on the cord the one or both feet (both would create a triangle). this will add extra tension against the pod and give a little more stability.

    Reply
  13. I’m not sure I understand the “One way to make the monopod more valuable is to mount an “Arca-Swiss” style tongue and groove head on the monopod and a corresponding plate on the camera or lens.”
    Could you provide a link to the “Arca-Swiss” style tongue and groove head?
    Cheers,
    Pierre

    Reply
  14. I’m not sure I understand the “One way to make the monopod more valuable is to mount an “Arca-Swiss” style tongue and groove head on the monopod and a corresponding plate on the camera or lens.”
    Could you provide a link to the “Arca-Swiss” style tongue and groove head?
    Cheers,
    Pierre

    Reply
  15. Thanks Scott! I just purchased a combination walking stick/monopod. Waiting for it to be delivered but I am looking forward to having some more stability while shooting.

    Reply
  16. Thanks Scott! I just purchased a combination walking stick/monopod. Waiting for it to be delivered but I am looking forward to having some more stability while shooting.

    Reply
  17. I know on a Tripod to turn IS on my camera off, use a cable release, etc. Does this apply to a monopod as well?

    Reply
  18. I know on a Tripod to turn IS on my camera off, use a cable release, etc. Does this apply to a monopod as well?

    Reply
  19. Is there some specific advantage to an Arca-Swiss mount for monopod use or is it just because it is a steady mount overall?

    Reply
  20. Is there some specific advantage to an Arca-Swiss mount for monopod use or is it just because it is a steady mount overall?

    Reply

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About scottbourne

Founder of Photofocus.com. Retired traveling and unhooking from the Internet.

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Technique & Tutorials

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