Need help now: monopod!

Jan 28th, 2006, 08:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 37
Trust me it works. All you have to do is lift your left or right leg to stabalise the camera and you have it down to a T. Me, I have a specially adapted Manfrotto head mounted to the roll bar of the vehicle but beleive me before that I learned so I am giving you the best advise. It works.
Gizzy is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 08:28 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 148
All of this discussion is around whether people find it comfortable to use monopods. But has anyone actually found that it makes no difference in the quality of their photos?

On one of my trips I was without my monopod for the first part of the it back toward the end. The photos toward the end are much sharper. Much better, the best of the trip. I was really sorry I didn't have it for the first part. Just changing ISO sounds like an easy fix, but every time you up the ISO your image will be noisier.

Also I once was doing lens tests (of image stabilized Nikon & Canon lenses) and did part of them with monopod, part without. The quality of the shots with monopod were visibly better, even with the IS systems on these very good lenses. Sure IS helps, but I figure the less I ask it to do, the better!

After these experiences, I forced myself to get comfortable with a monopod, and I haven't either found it a burden or a pain to use. I wouldn't go without it.
And in southern Africa, I've never been in a vehicle where I couldn't use it. But perhaps my hands are just not as steady as everyone elses. That is why I really recommend trying things out and setting up your own tests at home before you go. Sure, it is a pain, but it is better than discovering on safari--or after your safari--that something simple like a monopod would have improved your photos (even if they don't make any difference to anyone elses photos).
ddgattina is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 08:28 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,922
Also check with your camp/lodge/tour operator and even your guide as many have bean bags available for use by their guests.

Keep an eye on the viewfinder and remember, once your shutter speed drops below 1/60 of a second, it will be hard to get a crisp image if you don't have support for the lens-even if you have a lens with VR.

With my upcoming trip to Rwanda and the DRC next month, I'm also toying between bringing a tripod and/or monopod and still haven't decided what to do.

It's hard when you have weight restrictions, lots of trekking, lots of camera gear, and you can't decide what to take.
divewop is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 08:40 AM
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I will let you into a little secret. One of your best option is to probably go for a clamp. In most vehicles this works, except the Selinda ones. Just clamp it to the bar infront of you. Here is the link for the clamp:

What you then need is the following screw. The manfrotto 037

This allows you to connect the clamp to a tripod head. I would recommend a ball head because of the range of movement it gives you.


1) can use lower speeds than handheld.

2) images are crisper

3) for night photography, it is like having a tripod in the vehicle - as long as the other guest dont move. I would also recommend using mirror lock up at this point.

There are a couple of things you have to be careful of. If using a Canon IS lens, some require IS to be switched off when on a tripod. The same applies here, otherwise you may end with fussy images. Finally, there are some more expensive options available.
Jan 28th, 2006, 09:18 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 396
Cooncat, what is the magnification on your lens? I think anything around 400 you won't need any stabilization. But if it's 800, then you'll need probably a monopod.

I didn't have anything at all and it was fine. The only person we met on our trip who had a monopod was a bird photographer that had a huge lens. It was really quite awkward for him. Eg., he had a hard time climbing into the rear seats, yet those were really the best ones for him. One time he almost conked another passenger on the head...

Personally, I would not travel with one. Just too awkward/heavy.

linjudy is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 09:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,501
Well put, DDgatina -- that's why I'm taking a monopod.

If you know how to use it, it takes seconds to remove a camera from a quick-release head and transfer to handheld. So there's no reason you can't have the best of both worlds.

jasher is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 03:03 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 453
Hi everyone - well I checked out the monopod situation myself at the local photo shop. Have to admit it was pretty cool. And with the quick release plates, as Julian mentioned, it's pretty slick. Right now I'm leaning towards the monopod. Thanks again! I truly appreciate all the input from you seasoned Africa travelers!

cooncat2 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 03:11 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 140
Let us know how often you use it, Sharon. A monopod, like a tripod, is an acquired taste. Some photographers love them. I used mine once and now leave it at home. It just wasn't me.

pnd1 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 03:33 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 453
If I take one, I most certainly wil! But Phil - if nothing else, wouldn't it come in handy for sundowner/lowlight shots?
cooncat2 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 04:01 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 159
Monopods are handy for lowlight shots, and for the long end of your zoom. Or in combination of course. The manfrotto 676B is realtively simple and cheap at $30. Considering your 400mm lens proably cost $1,000, I'd say it's a no-brainer even if you don't end up using it. You may also want to add a ball head or other swiwel tool to it, and this could take the cost up some. For instance the Manfrotto 3229 at another $30. Still pretty cheap.

I don't know how well the following links copy, but if you cut paste them in to a browser you'll see the items I mentioned:

lessthanzero is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 05:02 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 453
The one I looked at today is more expensive - the 685B. But it's truly nifty in that it is adjusted via the hand grip - really slick.

I was looking at the 3229 ballhead - it's a pretty decent one? The one at the store was nice, but a lot more expensive. (Of course.)
cooncat2 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 09:34 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 140

Monopods are handy for many photographers, particularly those who prefer to work deliberately and methodically. I work spontaneously. I am always jumping around, moving in, out, up, down, and doing it quickly and unobtrusively. If I have a monopod or tripod attached to my camera it slows me down and makes my style of working very difficult. I would rather brace my camera on a handy post or tree trunk for a shot than carry around the added weight of a monopod or tripod.

I don't speak for all photographers. There are many who are deliberate workers, more technically oriented than I am. I work instinctively, and the lighter and smaller and less obtrusive my equipment can be, the better suited it is for my own shooting style.

As for those "sundowner shots," sometimes the exposures can be faster than you may think. This moonscape was made at 1/100th of a second. It was actually lighter than it looks -- I deliberately underexposed it to create the silhouette, and I also darkened it a bit in photoshop to make it look more like night than day:

pnd1 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 09:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,501
Hi Sharon,

I took a look at the 685B -- it's one of the models I considered, but it didn't fold down small enough to fit in the duffle I take on safari and it weighed a bit more than I liked. You may want to measure the size of your bag and make sure the monopod you buy will fit. The grip adjustment is neat, though I've found that I can adjust my monopod with one hand and it doesn't have that feature.

To be honest, you're not likely to need to change the height drastically -- since you shouldn't stand up or move suddenly at a sighting, any height adjustments will be pretty minor once you're in your seat.

Make sure you get a ball head for maximum flexibility.

jasher is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 11:08 AM
Posts: n/a

Im going to beg you one more time to also look at the superclamp. You will not regret it. Andy Rouse who publishes articles at says the following

'Perhaps the best application of this clamp is for the safari photographer. Most open safari vehicles are cramped, with little or no room for a tripod. But they all have support bars and I use these to attach my clamps. Using a spigot I attach a head to this, usually a Wimberley or an Arca-Swiss, and I can then mount my camera onto that.

The illustrated picture shows the clamp in action whilst I was working with wild dogs earlier this year. Once you have one it is amazing how many places you can find to clamp it!!'

Jan 29th, 2006, 11:09 AM
Posts: n/a
the article on the website is called working from a car
Jan 29th, 2006, 12:02 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 453
Hey there - ibj - I think it's a great idea, however Ihave no way of knowing what the vehicle set up will be like, and I doubt I would ever use a set up like that again. I could be wrong... I think I'd use a monopod for other shooting as well, so would probably be a better option for me.

Phil - I am def. more a shoot from the hip photographer (pardon the pun!) But with two bodies and the quick release plates, I don't know ... the monopod didn't seem that obnoxious to me. time will tell!
cooncat2 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 02:17 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 453
Julian - would you mind reminding me which set-up you have again? Sorry - I think I deleted your e-mail.

cooncat2 is offline  

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