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Help! Which Monopod should I buy to accommodate my 80-400mm Nikon Lens and Nikon D-200 Camera for safari in Africa?

Help! Which Monopod should I buy to accommodate my 80-400mm Nikon Lens and Nikon D-200 Camera for safari in Africa?

May 13th, 2008, 06:45 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 464
Help! Which Monopod should I buy to accommodate my 80-400mm Nikon Lens and Nikon D-200 Camera for safari in Africa?

Hi! Our guide suggested a monopod for my camera for our upcoming safari, but didn't say which one to buy. I am hoping to find a lightweight, compact monopod which would be real easy to use (not a lot of fussing about) but that would also would accommodate the combined weight of my rather heavy Nikon D-200 camera, and my Nikon 80 - 400 mm lens which I intend to use a lot. (I also have a 17 - 55 wide angle lens which I plan to bring along). I was checking Amazon.com, and they have some nice looking ones.. they vary widely in price, and many comments that some just don't seem to do the job for heavy cameras, or other's that are too cheap and too much to deal with. While I'm at it, would you please also suggest what I would need to go with it (if it doesn't come with one, that is) that will enable me to swivel the camera so that it takes vertical or horizontal shots.. and whether you feel I should have some sort of bag for it.. I'd prefer to have it be as least cumbersome all around as possible... This would be my first ever monopod purchase! Thanks so much!
teadrinker is offline  
May 13th, 2008, 07:04 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 702
Hi "teadrinker"

Suggest you to look at http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...d_Chrome_.html

I presume you will be on a walking safari? If shooting from a vehicle monopod is useless and best option is a beanbag like this ... http://www.vertexphoto.com/BeanBag.aspx

Interesting psedonym! I happen to be a tea taster.
Mohammed is offline  
May 13th, 2008, 09:58 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,274
Your 80-400 has a tripod collar? That's all you will need to swing your camera from horizontal to vertical and back, as long as you use the collar to fix your combo to the monopod. Some people don't like the collar and take it off, which means they have to fix their camera to their support equipment and therefore need a special head to enable horizontal-vertical switching.

Your combination is really relatively light, so any good quality monopod will do-- most catalogues specify their carrying capacity. I use a Manfrotto 479-4B with a small Manfrotto 234RC tilt head most of the time, with a heavier camera/lens combination than yours. I use it in open vehicles any time I can't get a good beanbag spot, and it is not at all troublesome to use. In fact, depending on position in vehicle, it can be the most versatile and valuable camera support tool of all. But horses for courses-- some people just can't come to grips with monopods and tripods.
afrigalah is offline  
May 13th, 2008, 11:08 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 267
I donīt think monopods are useless if you are in a vehicle,it just depends what kind of vehicle you have.

I have done 2 safaris in east Africa where vehicles are close so monopods or tripods are not of much help .In this situation beanbags are by far the best for this type of car and your equipment.(Southern Tanzania has also open vehicles)

If you are going to southern Africa where you will have open vehicles,then beanbags are difficult to use, you donīt have many places to support them. Monopod has been to me the best tool to support my camera and lens in this type of vehicle.

In my last Tanzania trip 2 years ago i had the D200 with the battery grip and the Sigma 50-500 wich is heavier than the Nikon 80-400 and i did manage very well with the beanbags provided by the safari operator .

Good luck.

PacoAhedo is offline  
May 14th, 2008, 01:20 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 309
I agree with John & Paco as well.
I have the same combo as John also and agree that monopods are (at times) VERY useful in a vehicle. ;-)

africaddict is offline  
May 14th, 2008, 02:56 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 579
Opinions vary as whether or not monopods work on safari. Some like them some think they are useless. Your question indicates that you have already decided and are interested in specific recommendations so here are my picks. A carbon fiber monopod because of its strength/weight property. Gitzo makes a nice one but expensive. Feisol (Chinese) makes a terrific monopod for the price. You can find Feisol easily just Google it. DO NOT put a ball head on top of the monopod. Instead attach a clamp from Really Right Stuff with or without a Manfrotto tilt head. The entire set up is detailed and explained on the Really Right Stuff website. I would go there first. Another non monopod solution is to use two Kinesis Safari Sacks (piled one on another) ontop of the roll bars in the southern Africa vehicles. It is clumsy but it does work and is portable and adapts to most situations. There are also some clamp type arrangements that use a manfrotto clamp + ball head + Wimberely Sidekick.
safarichuck is offline  
May 14th, 2008, 06:30 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 368
In our experience,
East Africa - Bean Bags - I had some old material sewn together w/velcro and filled them once we were in Africa. The guides/trackers had great ones for us to use also.

South Africa - Monopod. We have an older model. It has the "support" legs if you want to use them. If you go to bhphoto website it states how many pounds each monopod supports. Hope it helps.
Cheweyhead is offline  
May 14th, 2008, 09:22 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Let me throw in an agreement with chuck on using a tilt head and clamp on top of a monopod. I use one all the time with this setup, and the tilt head and clamp make it tremendously more useful. I have the same setup Chuck referenced, which is explained in great detail on the Really Right Stuff web site. I use it for my 300/2.8 and teleconverters and 40D+grip and it works wonderfully.
For a rig like a D200 and 80-400, I would not use a monopod at all. That is light enough to handhold, and handholding allows you to react more quickly and track moving subjects more easily than using a monopod.
Chris_GA_Atl is offline  
May 14th, 2008, 11:42 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Personally, I'm a "hand holding" kind of guy . But then again, my biggest lens is a 70-300mm. Best advice from me is to up the D200 shutter speed as high as you can get away with. Don't be afraid of ISO 400 and even 800. A little noise at 800 is better than not sharp and you won't see it on the web nor up to at least 8x10 print.

Also, if you really want max image quality you need to, if you already aren't, use Photoshop or equivalent to crop and tune images.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
May 21st, 2008, 08:51 PM
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Posts: 464
I did end up calling B&H Photo and the guy was very nice and recommended a monopod to me which I ended up buying - it should arrive tomorrow. Now I need to know if I really need a "dust jacket" for the cameras!
teadrinker is offline  
May 22nd, 2008, 05:32 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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I've got the D200 and the 80-400 and usually a bean bag is sufficient enough for me.

I usually bring along a couple of empty safarisacks just in case the bean bags provided by the drivers are small enough and/or dirty and then just cram them into the safarisacks, making a couple of big bean-bags. Or if none are provided, I'll find something around camp to fill them with.

All that being said, I do have a Gitzo monopod with a RRS (Really right stuff) clamp in case I need to take a monopod with me. I think they'd be more useful in the Southern Africa countries, although they could come in handy in the Governor's camps vehicles in Kenya.

For dust jackets, you could use a couple of tall kitchen garbage bags or pillow cases or throw a shirt/jacket over the cameras when riding around in the jeep.
divewop is offline  
May 22nd, 2008, 05:38 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 702
I would suggest you invest in a Giotto Rocket Air Blower, lots of great uses and very versatile.

Mohammed is offline  
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