There is nothing more frustrating than motion blur in photos or camera shake in video. While a tripod is handy in most situations, it can significantly limit movement. Consider using other camera accessories like the monopod.
A monopod has one leg or foot to keep you mobile. It can also stabilize the camera to help you shoot sharper images or videos.
A monopod offers more advantages, as we will explore in this article. However, you must know how to use it properly to maximize its benefits. This article will teach tips when using a monopod and choosing the right product for your needs.
What Is a Monopod?
A monopod has a single leg. The word originates from the Greek “monos,” meaning “single,” and “podos,” describing “foot.” When combined, the terms refer to single-legged support.
Also known as unipods, monopods are basically sturdy poles or staffs. They allow you to attach the camera to minimize movement.
Monopods also come in different heights, depending on the number of collapsible sections. The more sections they have, the smaller the full collapsed length. That means these monopods are easy to carry. The only downside is they can be unstable because of the thinner upper sections.
The most popular monopods have either three or four sections. They offer a balance between portability and stability.
What Is a Monopod Good For?
A monopod can keep your camera steady. By minimizing camera movement, it can prevent motion blur in photos and shaky video. It ultimately gives you sharper still images and better video.
A monopod is also good for situations when you are working in a limited space. Unlike a tripod that requires room for its three legs, a monopod only takes a small area. It is especially useful when shooting in a crowded venue, like concerts and live events.
Monopods are also light and compact. These make them easy to carry for travel and other situations when you want to change camera positioning quickly. For instance, sports photographers or wildlife photographers constantly need to follow the action or subject. They prefer the portability of a monopod over a tripod for many reasons. For one, they do not have legs to fold—they simply pick up the monopod and go.
Despite their small size, monopods are surprisingly sturdy when fully extended. They sometimes double as walking sticks when hiking. They are also a favorite among travel photographers.
Plus, a monopod can help videographers achieve smooth panning and tracking effects. They are also a more affordable alternative to Steadicam devices.
Can a Monopod Stand on Its Own?
Most monopods cannot stand on their own due to their single-legged structures. They need to lean on a wall, tree, or any stationary object for support. That is why many photographers and videographers still prefer a tripod for its free-standing design.
There is an exception to this, though.
Some monopods have little feet that allow them to stand on their own. These look like mini tripods at the base.
These free-standing monopods are mainly designed for video. However, they can also fit in tight spaces when a larger tripod is unavailable.
But even with feet, monopods can only maintain balance if you attach a compact camera and lens. Avoid heavy camera gear, such as DSLRs and larger telephoto lenses, to prevent the monopod from tipping over.
How to Use a Monopod?
Monopods are easy to use. However, there are a few key things to remember to maximize their benefits.
Below are some tips on how to use a monopod.
First, make sure to attach the camera and lens to the monopod properly. Tighten the screw or clamp to secure the camera equipment. Doing so can prevent them from slipping or falling off.
Next, adjust the monopod’s height, depending on your shooting needs. You can extend it via the twist-lock or flip-lock mechanism. Just check which locking structure your monopod uses. Then, secure the locks before using it.
Use one hand to support the monopod. Then, keep your other hand on the camera to operate it. You can position your elbows close to your body to keep the camera steady, similar to the way when you are shooting handheld.
Note that monopods cannot eliminate camera shake, especially when using a heavy camera or a long lens. They only help minimize shaky movement to give you sharper results in photography.
So if you want to take a photo, use the wall or any stationary object to achieve extra stability when using the monopod. Meanwhile, extend the mini tripod feet at the monopod’s base when recording a video.
After using the monopod, fold it properly. Store it in a safe place to prevent accidents and tripping up people. Proper storage can also extend the monopod’s lifespan since it would not be exposed to dust and dirt for long periods.
How to Choose the Right Monopod?
Shopping for a monopod for the first time can feel overwhelming. There are so many brands and designs to choose from.
To help narrow down your choice, we will teach you the essential factors to consider before buying a monopod. Keep these features in mind to ensure you get the right camera support for your needs.
The first factor to check when buying a monopod is its material.
You will likely come across three types of construction—aluminum, carbon fiber, or a combination of both materials. Each has its pros and cons, so choose wisely.
Aluminum monopods are affordable and durable, but they are heavier. In contrast, monopods made with carbon fiber tend to be lighter and have better shock-absorption properties. The only downside is their high price.
You must also consider the load capacity of the monopod. Ensure it can support the weight of your camera and lens.
If you are unsure how much your camera and lens weigh, check the user manual or the website of the manufacturer.
Invest in a monopod with a height-adjustment range for flexibility. Some models can extend over six feet tall, while others are short as 16 inches, which can easily fit a camera bag.
To determine the exact monopod length, consider your height and the type of photography you want to do.
While you can use a monopod without a head attachment, some professionals can connect a head for extra support.
The monopod head is available in different designs, from pan-and-tilt heads to ball types.
A pan-tilt monopod head offers more precise control, but is also pricier. On the other hand, ball heads provide a wide range of movement without costing a lot. But they are less precise and durable.
What Is the Difference Between a Monopod and a Tripod?
The main difference between a monopod and a tripod is their number of legs.
As their name suggests, monopods have a single leg, whereas tripods offer three legs.
Monopods are lightweight and portable. These give you more flexibility when shooting in tight spaces or during traveling. However, the lack of legs means less stability.
In contrast, tripods provide greater stability. They can easily handle heavier cameras and long lenses. However, they tend to limit movement and are heavier to carry when traveling.
Picking between two camera support accessories will depend on your needs, preferred shooting style, and budget. Regardless of your choice, you can rely on monopods and tripods to minimize camera shake for sharper photos or videos.
A monopod has one leg to stabilize your camera. It is more mobile and lightweight than a tripod with three legs.
But as we explored above, a monopod also has its fair share of cons. For one, it can be unstable when handling heavy cameras and lenses. So it is important to know how to use it properly to get the most out of it.
Do you have more questions about monopods? Send a message via our contact page, and we will keep in touch.