Monopods and Shutter Speeds- Help

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by Tom Stanworth, Apr 9, 2006.

  1. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Hi,

    I am currently doing a lot of 35mm hand-held shooting which just seems to be right on the edge of acceptable shutter speeds. I am not keen to use a tripod as I want better speed and manoeuverabilty (and there is the issue or bulk) but am not sure how much help monopods can give in terms of shutter speed.

    'I know this is a bit of a how long is a piece of string' question, but how helpful have you monopod users found them for allowing you to shoot at slower speeds than would be possible hand-held without camera shake being evident?? Of course they do double as a handy quarter staff too!

    Rgds,

    Tom
     
  2. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    I was using one last night at a soccer game with a Pentax 645 and 200 lens. I like the general mobility that it allows and as optic focal length goes up, the gains are more noticeable. Monos are especially effective at getting rid of that magnified jitter that everyone has, to some extent. In reality, I would expect you to gain a couple of shutter speeds. When desperate, you can triangulate by leaning, wrapping a leg, etc to gain some control. I've gotten so accustomed to it that I use it more than I'd likely need to but it's also a nice way to balance and transport the camera on your shoulder and can serve as a walking stick in some situations. It also makes a decent perch for film changes when you're in situations that don't allow sitting down, etc.

    There are many claims by people of handheld successes but my feeling is that they would have a much higher success rate with more control over their rigs. Your final print sizes have a big effect on this, too. Perfectly acceptable snapshots can be quite dreadful and useless as enlargements. I tend to go out with an 8X10 minimum in my mind and it takes solid technique to consistently shoot keeper 8X10's and larger in the field.
     
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  3. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    I go with Craig on this one, and suggest a 2 or 3 stop advantage would be a resonable expectation.
     
  4. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    My experience agrees (for the most) with the above comments. I'd ballpark 1-2 stop improvement, though. I use monopod mostly with MF cameras in square (6x6) format. Works FANTASTIC. My only reluctance with using monopod with 35mm is that it inhibits change of format... horizontal (landscape) framing) to vertical (portrait) framing. I suppose a ball head would fix that but I've never even put a head on my monopod. Give it a try.. they are affordable and I'll guarantee that you'll find it a useful tool.
     
  5. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I have a small little head that bogen made specifically for monopod use, that allows you to go from hortizontal to vertical very quickly, it is just a tilt head....works very well and quickly in those times you need to change orientation...I would say a two stop gain is about the average on a mono over hand held, depending on the technique you develop.

    Dave
     
  6. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    I got a monopod a couple of years ago and I have to tell you, it is the coolest walking stick I have ever had. It brings up all kinds of photography discussions on the trail. People see it and ask to see my camera. But I have not used it since no more than a month after buying it. Because, I can prop myself up against a tree or on a fencepost or lay down or any number of things to steady myself and I don't have to screw my camera on or off the monopod and worry about walking-stick-like-use damaging the camera that is firmly affixed to it. So, FOR ME, it is the coolest walking stick I have ever had.
     
  7. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    I'd say 1-2 stops is about right. It does depend on the style of photography and the weight of the camera. Hand-holding involves camera motion in three dimensions. With a monopod the motion is more constrained (roughly along the surface of a sphere with a radius of the monopod height).

    I have a small ball head on mine that allows me to adjust the angle. I like the foot of the monopod to be forward of the camera itself.

    Other thoughts at : http://www.gapatterson.org/photos/monopod.html
     
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  8. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Ha... did forget to mention... my monopod-happiness guarantee... it's not valid for residents of the state of Delaware. :smile:
     
  9. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Please, let me footstomp one item mentioned there that hasn't yet been mentioned here... quick release plate.

    Since I usually shoot square format I put a quick-release (QR) adapter on the monopod rather than a ball or three-way head. With or without a head, the QR makes life a lot more convenient... especially with TLRs that must be removed from the pod to reload film. The Rolleifix and Hassy QR adapters that I use are secure enough to carry the camera on the monopod for long hikes, but I am reluctant to "throw it over my shoulder".
     
  10. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    I've found my monopod to be more usable after I attached a Bogen 3025 compact head (1.2#) to it. It makes for quick horiz/vert changes and is solid enough to control Pentax 67 duties. That's likely about the most one would apply monopods to, I would think? On some longer, more rugged hikes, I've put the camera back into a case and indeed, used the mono as a walking aid. I've got the heavier duty Bogen (can't recall the # as I type this) but it seems capable of pole vault duty and is extremely durable.
     
  11. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    I think a lot depends on the camera, the focal length of the lens being used, and the shutter speed, as well. While I'd agree with the 2-3 stop rule of index finger (not many people use their thumb), if the starting point is 1 sec @ f/1.0, you might be in trouble. :wink:

    I also use the little Bogen ball head with my monopod, and often use the technique of angling the monopod a bit to create a tripod between it and my own legs. With that approach, I can get down to 1-2 seconds at f/1.0 with the 50mm Noctilux on my M6 (almost no DOF, so swaying to and fro is a big issue on focus). With the 80-200 AFS zoom @ 200mm on the Nikon, however, 1/30 may be a stretch. A latte or two reduces that even further.
     
  12. rfshootist

    rfshootist Member

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    One of the most amazing experiences in my photo life ! I use a Manfrotto, mostly when I go out at night with 100 or 200 ISO, down to 1/2 sec sharp photos, which means for me 2 to 3 stops plus compared to handheld shots.
    If you can lean toward a car, a wall, a reel or a lamp post it is as good as a tripod. Highly recommended , much fun for the money.

    Regards,
    Bertram
     
  13. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I have a monopod that has both a built in ball head, and a "foot" that screws out, inverts, and screws back in with three small legs protruding. In short, it becomes a tripod with little legs, and a relatively long centre post.

    As a tripod, it is far from perfect (especially in wind) but it and the self-timer on my camera have often made the difference, when carrying a tripod just isn't practical.

    I have had it for more than 25 years, and have no idea whether anyone makes one now, or what brand it is.

    It also works well in standard mode, and the ball head makes 35mm very practical, although the ball head is a bit light to use with my Mamiya 645 in portrait orientation.
     
  14. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Thanks all!

    To put it in context I was recently shooting environmental shots (battered old soviet military hardware in Afghan Nat Army training area, srrounded by mountains etc) and at 24-35mm focal length on a 35mm camera at f5.6-8 or so I was finding shots were anywhere between 1/15 and 1/80, more twd the lower end as the evening wore on. Earlier on I was using heavy #29 filtration for a very stark hard look and only just managing this with TriX and later on had to switch to a #21 orange filter. I used old vehicles etc to lean on where possible but sometime the awkwardness of the shot will only have added to the shakes. Sounds like a monopod will allow me some more comfort shooting around 1/15-1/30 knowing that the shots should no longer be borderline in terms of shutter speed. I will also be getting a second film body out here which opens up the possibility to use slower film ( I have about 20 rolls of APX100 left). I am also considering bringing over my Bronny RF645 which would work very nicely with a monopod I think and along with 100 speed film would allow one heck of a boost in enlargeability over the 35mm loaded with Tri X.

    I have seen some good value bogen monopods which mated with a compact tilt head sound about perfect!

    Cant wait to post some of my shots from here but as I am homeless right now, it could take a while. No darkroom, no scanner :sad:

    Thanks all!!

    Tom