Using a monopod - slowest shutter speed?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by JDP, Feb 18, 2010.

  1. JDP

    JDP Member

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    Hi All,
    I just bought a monopod (Velbon RUP-L43). Maybe I should have asked this before I did that but .... I got it for hiking in the mountains (and low light). It only weighs 1lb, compared to about 3.5lbs for my tripod, and doubles up as a walking pole (though I don't consider myself old enough to requirethat yet!).

    I was wondering, for those who use a monopod what shutter speed advantage they find they get compared to hand-holding. More simply, what is the slowest shutter speed you use with your camera on a monopod?

    Hand-holding I am fine down to a 1/30th sec. I have occassionally got good results down to an 1/8th, but only if I can brace myself against some other object. This is using standard to wide angle lens'. With the monopod I was hoping to get down to at least a 1/4sec. Possible?
     
  2. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Subscriber

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    Posted wirelessly..

    If you can brace it high against a fence or a tree and breathe out before you hit the shutter, speeds could get real slow. Experiment and see what you're capable of.
     
  3. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I don't find a monopod all that stable for those slow speeds. I have a couple of lightweight tripods that I use instead. Although not as convenient as a monopod, work at any speed.
     
  4. Sim2

    Sim2 Member

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    Hallo,

    Way back when we used to use monopods with sports work and for static sports, such as golf, we were able to shoot velvia 50 at 1/60th using 500 or 600mm lenses.

    The key we found is subject movement (obviously) , being able to "be still" yourself; breathing, low to the ground and squeezing the shutter. Wider lenses are easier than telephotos. But everyone is different so this really is a case that you will have to try to find your limits for yourself.

    If you can brace yourself and/or the pod against something that will help enormously.

    Sim2.
     
  5. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Highly dependent on the focal length of the lens. The general rule for the general population is to not hand-hold at speeds slower than 1/focal length (for example 1/125 sec with a 125mm lens.)

    So what lens are you successfully hand holding at 1/30 sec? Probably not a 210mm lens. So the question should be -- "How many stops slower in shutter speed can one use when using a monopod compared to hand holding the same lens?"

    And I don't know. Pure guessing I'd say 3 or 4 (depends on being able to brace, wind conditions, how cold you are, how much coffee you drank, etc!). Time to tape the newspaper classifieds to the wall and fire a couple test shots at different speeds!

    Vaughn
     
  6. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Depending on the size lens, maybe 1/15 to 1/18 sec.

    Jeff
     
  7. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Subscriber

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    Me and monopod braced firmly, once a pulled off a four second exposure in low light on the third try. I could tell I was moving on the first two. And it came out good in an 8x10. Doubt I could do it again. It's gonna vary from one circumstance to the next.
     
  8. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    It depends a lot on your technique - vertical unbraced monopod versus leaning into the pod versus pod held against a solid object. Probably two stops slower than hand-holding (and there's a lot of technique there...). Held firmly against a solid object, maybe 1 sec.
     
  9. eddym

    eddym Member

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    As others have said, it depends on the lens, as well as the camera (SLR/RF, etc.), your own breath control and steadiness or lack thereof, etc., etc. I have used monopods for many years, and with an SLR and normal (or close to) lens, I can shoot down to 1/15 easily, 1/8 or even longer with good breath control and something to lean against. I'm shooting dance performances now in dark theaters with an 80-200 f2.8 on a monopod at 1/125, but will sometimes go as low as 1/60 if needed. Any lower and subject motion will be too great an issue.
     
  10. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Steady your breathing, spread your legs to shoulders wide, and then you on two legs and the monopod can begin to approach a tripod in stability. Practice tucking your elbows in. It helps if the monopod brings the camera to eye height without having to crouch down at all. I pull off 1/8 with a 180mm lens in such an arrangement.
     
  11. JDP

    JDP Member

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    Thanks for the comments. I guess there will be a learning curve to optimise the technique. Its encouraging that some are reporting speeds which I am hoping to use.

    I'm happy using 1/30th Handheld up to ~75mm (the standard lens length for MF). The exception is my large Rodenstock 90mm F4.5, used on a fotoman 6x9, which is a little hit and miss. I even got some blur on 1/125th with it. Having to use f11-16 max aperture to get a sharp pic with it doesn't help much either! I hope the monopod will help a lot with that lens.
     
  12. JDP

    JDP Member

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    UPDATE:

    I just developed a film with which I had used the monopod, and thought I would give an update. So far the slowest shutter speed I have tried is 1/4 sec on a 6x9 format and 45mm lens. This worked OK and I can't see any obvious shake even enlarged to 20" or so.

    I took the pictures free-standing with the camera at eye-height, leaning slightly on the monopod and breathing out for the exposure. There was a little breeze, but not enough to push you about. The biggest problem that day was the rain:- my camera got wet. I need one of those hats with an umbrella on top!