Monopods?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by dmr, Jun 23, 2008.

  1. dmr

    dmr Member

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    Does anybody here use a monopod?

    Tripods are bulky, and there's some stuff I want to shoot where I need to stop down a bit and slow down the shutter.

    How slow can you reliably go with a monopod, assuming a RF with a 40mm lens? Can you go 1/4 second reliably? One second?

    I do think I have a very steady hand, at least for my age. I can reliably handhold at 1/60, most of the time at 1/30, and some of the time at 1/15.

    Also, there are some monopods out there that have kind of mini-tripod legs that extend out of the very bottom. Is it worth it to get one of these? Do these actually help that much.

    Thanks in advance, gang. :smile:
     
  2. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Hey DMR;
    I've got a four-section Stitz ballhead monopod that has the little extension legs, but I've never uesd them at all. For one thing, they keep your monopod pointed straight up, which is not the way I use it. I find that the best technique with a monopod is not to "balance" your camera on top of it, but to create a tripod between the monopod and your body. It may look odd, but it is really quite stable. I can get some pretty good shots this way, but for really long shots, I brace the monopod against something solid.

    Cheers,
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Only with big, heavy, long lenses, such as a 500 mm f/4.0 lens.

    Nothing dorkier than seeing someone using a monopod with a short telephoto zoom lens.

    If you get one, get a good one, such as a Gitzo.
     
  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I do have a monopod with the little tripod legs, and I do use them from time to time. Generally, I use them when the shutter speed I need is very long or, alternatively, when I need to get into the picture :smile:. In each case, I use the self-timer. It only works if there is no vibration or wind.

    If you get a monopod, unless you are shooting square format you'll need a ballhead or some other way of shooting verticals.

    I've had mine for almost 30 years. I have no idea what brand it is. When I used to travel with it, it always attracted interest in airport security inspections.

    Matt
     
  5. dmr

    dmr Member

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    How long an exposure can you get away with?

    Also, do you use a cable/bulb release or do you just press it with your finger?

    Thanks. :smile:
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I'm referring there to using the little tripod legs. When you use those legs, you are using a tripod that is very susceptible to wind or vibration. I only use it this way when there is no wind, and only when I can use the self-timer on my cameras (which include a mirror lock up).

    Matt
     
  7. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I have a Bogen monopod that I use with either a Leica or Linhof small ballhead. It's wonderful with a medium format camera; with a Rollei TLR, I can get good shots at 1/15 or less. I've never really made a point of testing how slow I can go. With a Hasselblad, I use it at faster speeds, like 1/125 or more... if I don't have a tripod handy.

    I also use it with an 80-200mm f2.8 Nikon lens... mostly to hold the beast up, but also for sharper negs. I have shot as slow as 1/60 with that combo.

    Monopod: never leave home without it! Unextended, it makes a formidable club in case of muggings...
     
  8. Glenn M

    Glenn M Member

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    I have the Bogen large monopod with those pop-out little leg things (can't recall number and too lazy to go fetch and look) with an Arca-Swiss B1 ballhead. I've only used it a couple times with the legs... and as noted by another, it's not exactly stable and will not replace a tripod (but a neat feature when conditions are completely still with no one around to accidently bump the support).

    As for "How slow can you reliably go with a monopod, assuming a RF with a 40mm lens? Can you go 1/4 second reliably? One second?":

    Obviously speed will vary alot with length... but even with a 40mm lens one second I would expect to be unobtainable. Lowest speed I personally would expect good results from for a 35mm camera and 50mm lens mounted on a strong monopod would be 1/8th second... anything lower I'd be reaching for a tripod. I've never mounted my medium or large format cameras on a monopod... only 35mm cameras.
     
  9. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Leaning against a tree and leaning the camera into my body I have gotten away with 1/15 and 1/8 before with above average sharpness. 35mm you can't see the blur until you go above 8x10. Just breathe out before you pull the trigger.
     
  10. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Does using a monopod with a very small rangefinder and 40mm lens get heavy dork points? I used to do that a lot with Panatomic-X. It was a smaller diameter Gitzo monopod, so does that in any way redeem me? I've also used it recently with a 28mm f:130 pinhole body cap on a Bessa L. So where do I stand on the dork scale? Inquiring minds and all that....

    :smile:

    Lee (possible master dork)
     
  11. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    I have a Slik monopod with the quick release plate, it's great for small cameras and extends to eye level. Its quick lock leg releases are very fast.
     
  12. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Monopods always make sense when you need that extra stop or two. But that's about the limit of it. More than that and you're in tripod territory. I use mine most often with wide angle to short tele lenses and I don't really care if someone thinks I look like a dork. Those whiz-bang, all automatic computers passing as cameras look even more dorky. Ever watch the chimps?
     
  13. dmr

    dmr Member

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    Uh, how do I put this? If there's one thing I'm not concerned about it's any kind of "dork factor" here. I'm looking for a camera support, not a fashion accessory! :smile:

    If somebody thinks I look dorky by using a monopod or a rangefinder or anything, that's their problem, not mine!
     
  14. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Just a bit of reductio ad absurdum joking on my part with Pinholemaster's post. I'm sure he'll understand.

    Anyone trying to characterize me in a way that affects me is about 40 years too late. If I feel like a monopod will get me a better shot, I'll use it. I even use a C/V grip like this: http://cameraquest.com/jpg2/voigta26.jpg on an Olympus Stylus Epic to steady it and keep it from slipping through my large hands. Works very well with the tripod socket on the left side of that camera.

    In my world, the goal is to make the photo look like I want it to, not to gain others' approval of what I look like while taking the photo. Didn't mean to hijack the thread. I'll post in alt.arentiasbeautifulaslittlerichard next time. :smile:

    Lee
     
  15. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    A lot of people who know what they're doing use monopods, but I've never understood how they can be effective when they are only steady in one direction. I suppose that I should borrow one sometime and see what kind of results i get. Is there really much practical difference between carrying around a monopod and a light tripod?
     
  16. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Charles,

    Monopods are not tripods, but if you think about it, they constrain the camera from rolling on a short axis both fore/aft and left/right. I often put the foot of the monopod out forward of the camera a foot or two if I'm not panning with it. That gives me a sort of tripod base in combination with my legs and feet rather than having the camera tend to roll forward off a perfectly vertical monopod. I also lean mine against a tree fork or a rock when hiking, and have made excellent exposures of many seconds that way. I also have a plastic coated thin cable (made for staking out a small dog) that is the right length for attaching to the monopod head and running under both feet. Tensioning the monopod forward against this constraint is also useful for some things. Even attaching a monopod firmly to the tripod socket and letting it hang tends to steady the shot, sort of like a poor man's steadicam sans gyro.

    I tend to use these tricks with 35mm cameras and slower films like Kodachrome 25, Panatomic-X, etc. (perhaps my methods were discontinued without my being notified) where I'm after fine detail and maximum enlargability and image quality. Hey, there's still Adox/Efke 25, Adox CMS, Fuji 50 Velvia, Pan F+... and lower light with faster films.

    Next time you watch an archery tournament, look at the long stabilizer bars with end weights that just stick out into free air in front of the bow. The point is that leveraged mass or a long axis constraint will require much greater torque to move an attached camera. That's a good thing in many circumstances. Those archers may look like huge dorks, but I'd rather they shoot at me from 100 meters without the stabilizer bars than with. Others may prefer a swift death. :smile:

    Lee
     
  17. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I use a monopod a lot. Don't care if I look goofy, I always shoot better with it, or with a tripod.

    If I'm shooting handheld, I'm probably not planning on a keeper or I'm standing up in a moving speedboat or some silly thing like that.
     
  18. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    A good monopod. Using the strap as a sling, around your wrist and elbow. Fastening more weight to the camera.
    Using a motor with a cable release. There are almost endless ways to get the most from a 35 mm RF.

    The first thing you do with a monopod is turn yourself into a tripod.

    1/15 - 1 second exposures are quite do-able if you figure out ways to hold the camera solidly. Shooting low light portraits with a 35RF and a monopod is dead easy, and outperforms 120 in every way.

    Goofy ? If anybody has ever come up to me while I was shooting a gig with a monopod,
    they usually say they wish THEY were a photographer !

    .
     
  19. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    My wife always amuses me when she uses her monopod - if she can't be bothered to adjust the head for a single vertical composition, she just holds it at a balance point and uses it as a stabiliser. Amazingly, it does work to damp camera motion. About a stop, maybe. I'm not going to argue with her. Used more, er, conventionally, two stops is to be expected.

    The big advantage if the monopod is portability and ease of use. You might actually use it. :cool:
     
  20. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    I have a Cullman 741 to which I added a Manfrotto 3229 single axis tilting RC-2 mount. So far I haven't done too much with it, but I acquired it with the intention of using it in places (crowded cities, etc.) where use of a tripod might be forbidden, or I wouldn't want the bulk and weight of a tripod. (I can limp a little and call it a "walking stick." :smile: ) It has 5 sections and is probably less rigid at full height than some, but since my primary axe uses a waist level finder, I would seldom use more than three sections. It's relatively compact and was fairly inexpensive.

    DaveT