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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