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Thread: Monopod Selection

  1. #1
    Dr Bob's Avatar
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    Monopod Selection

    I am considering purchasing a monopod and an appropriate ball mount head. I have a Canon 7d and my largest lens is 70 - 300mm. I am interested in any suggestions or recommendations anyone has for both the monopod and ball mount head.

    Thank you. I look forward to your comments.

    Dr Bob

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Monopod Selection

    The Manfrotto 681B is an excellent monopod that is bargain priced for what you get. It usually runs somewhere around $60 USD or so. It is very sturdy and can hold virtually any camera/lens combination.

    The only fault with the 681B is that it is a three section pod which folds to a bit over 26-inches. This is too long to fit in my airline suitcase and pods are sometimes frowned upon as carry on gear.

    The Manfrotto 680B is a four section pod which folds shorter than the 681B. I would assume that it is a good pod but, I have never used one. It costs about the same (maybe a few dollars more) as the 681B...

    I switched from the Manfrotto 681 (same as the 681B but, in aluminum color) to a Calumet Carbon Fiber monopod which is lighter in weight, collapses into a smaller package and is able to support a larger payload. I love this pod would recommend it except that Calumet appears to have discontinued it.

    BTW: I do not use a ball head with a monopod. Instead I use a Kirk MPA-1 Swivel Head. My cameras and lenses are equipped with Arca Compatible plates...

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    Mahn England's Avatar
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    Re: Monopod Selection

    I have a Velbon UP-400 monopod (it came as part of the deal with one of my lenses) with a Velbon QHD-51Q ball head (purchased subsequently).

    My 7D and Canon L 70-300 lens is too heavy for the ball head in the portrait position...the torque imparted twists the camera on the ball head's base plate...otherwise it is fine with other lighter combinations.

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    Re: Monopod Selection

    A timely discussion for me, as I am shopping for a monopod as well. I've limited my search to carbon fiber. Most of the CF monopods I have looked at so far have twist locks. I find these fine on my tripod, but I think flip locks will work better for my uses for a monopod. Benro has flip locks, and I think Velbon as well. Re swivel heads: something similar to the Kirk swivel head is available from at least four other brands, Monfrotto, Benro, Induro, and Oben (a B&H store brand). These are much cheaper than the Kirk, but from the pictures on line, none of them has an Arca Swiss compatible quick release plate, which is a pain for me, as my tripod head is Arca Swiss compatible.

    I'll be eager to hear what experience others have had.

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    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Re: Monopod Selection

    OBEN 2400 4-section monopod. B&H has it for $59.00 for the aluminum one I got which weighs only 1.65 pounds. The carbon fiber one is just under 1 pound for twice as much. Hard to understand the appeal of the carbon fiber at twice the price for only like 8 ounces difference.

    I bought one six weeks ago and it is great. Do a search on the B&H search engine by how much WEIGHT the monopods can support. This one holds 26.4 pounds, which is about twice or more what most of the rest hold. Then use the search engine to eliminate all the ones that are a couple inches too short, and you are basically left with just the Oben monopod or a few that cost $200 or $300.

    You'd be surprised at how little weight most monopods are built to take, like 7 or 9 pounds. And it is not the weight at which your monopod actually collapses to worry about; it is the weight/pressure at which the thing wiggles and warps.

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    Re: Monopod Selection

    Quote Originally Posted by DanK View Post
    Re swivel heads: something similar to the Kirk swivel head is available from at least four other brands, Monfrotto, Benro, Induro, and Oben (a B&H store brand). These are much cheaper than the Kirk, but from the pictures on line, none of them has an Arca Swiss compatible quick release plate, which is a pain for me, as my tripod head is Arca Swiss compatible.
    The Kirk MPA-1 is simply a Manfrotto swivel with a Kirk Arca Swiss Compatible clamp attached. Yes, it is fairly expensive but, IMO, it is well worth it. My lenses which have tripod rings are equipped with Arca Swiss Compatible plates and my cameras are equipped with RRS L-Backets.

    The L-bracket setup really makes the Kirk head workable. It allows me to detach and attach my camera in either the horizontal or vertical position without the nuisance of torque twisting the camera around on the tripod screw.

    IMO, trying to use a monopod with a ball head is a great big PITA if you are using a lens without a tripod ring. Cantilevering the camera over to the side on the ball head in order to achieve a portrait poition makes the rig awkward and unbalanced. Additionally, ball heads are usually pretty heavy in compaison to a swivel head. AND... of course, there is always the problem of the torque of the lens twisting the camera around on the tripod screw.

    Both RRS and KIirk have heavy duty swivel heads available however, I usually use my MPA-1 with the fittings loose so I can move the camera easily. I don't need a heavy-duty head for the way I use mine...

    Finally, I will sometimes switch back and forth between tripod and monopod. I like having an Arca clamp on my monopod to be compatible with the Arca Compatible clamp on my tripod head. If you don't feel you need the swivel capability, just attaching an Arca clamp to the monopod would work. There are lots of Arca compatible clamps available that are not terribly expensive...

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw...p&_sacat=30097
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 11th July 2012 at 02:10 PM.

  7. #7
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    Re: Monopod Selection

    Richard,

    Thanks. I use a monopod primarily for macro, and for that, I would often have to remove my Arca plate anyway to mount the bracket that holds my macro flash rig. However, it would be very nice to be able to use it for other purposes as well without having to take the time to swap plates.

    I have read a few postings by people who have bought other swivel heads, I think Manfrotto, disassambled them, and added an arca compatible head, but by that time, one would have spent almost as much as the Kirk.

    Dan

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    Re: Monopod Selection

    I use a monopod about 80% of the time. I have a Manfrotto 434, now the 681, and it is rock solid. It has the 234 tilt head, not a ball head, and again, never any problem. I wouldn't trade it of any other I've come across. An important consideration to keep in mind during your search is the working height. Make sure it's tall enough that you don't have to crouch when the camera is tilted over in the portrait position. Good luck.

    PS If your asking questions like this I will have to assume you have not yet made a decision on what type of mounting system you are going to standardize on. You may want to make that decision first. Manfrotto is a good system but others have more flexibility when it comes to adding equipment mounts from other manufacturers. Markins would be my first choice if I was starting out now. Check out the VR holder for your long lens.
    Last edited by Andrew1; 10th July 2012 at 10:41 PM.

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    Re: Monopod Selection

    Dan...

    You mentioned that, "I would often have to remove my Arca plate anyway to mount the bracket that holds my macro flash rig."

    I don't know what type of macro flash rig you utilize but, with some flash rigs you can simply mount an Arca compatible plate (which are sold at rather low prices on eBay and other photo oriented sites) on the bottom of the rig. That way, you could just mount your macro flash rig on your tripod/monopod using the Arca clamp.

    Ad an example... I have a video rig which I use with either a real video camera or a DSLR. I have both an Arca clamp on this rig to attach my cameras and an Arca compatible plate below so I can mount the rig to my tripod or monopod, both of which use Arca clamps.

    Arca Clamp for mounting either DSLR or dedicated video camera...

    Monopod Selection

    Arca plate on bottom of rig to facilitate mounting/removing entire rig from my monopod or tripod...

    Monopod Selection


    OTOH: If you decide on using a Manfrotto quick release system; Manfrotto has a great plate which, by incorporating a lip at the front of the plate, reduces the tendency of a camera to torque around the tripod screw when shooting with lenses that do not incorporate a tripod ring. The folks who market Manfrotto equipment are at it again. They persist in changing the names and number designators of Manfroto equipment at the rate I change my socks. Despite, the designator, "Architectural Anti-Twist Quick Release Plate" this plate has many other uses besides architectural photography. The most important use, IMO, is in portrait photography.

    When I thought that the Manfrotto RC2 quick release system was the way to go, I purchased the Architectural Plate which I left mounted to the camera body and used the standard plate that came with the ball head on the tripod ring of my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens.

    However I eventually "saw the light" and switched over to Arca Compatible QR systems.

    BTW: a little known fact (probably because the marketing gurus at Bogen-Manfrotto are absolutely incompetent) is that Bogen-Manfrotto distributes their own style of "L" bracket. I have not seen nor used this bracket. However if I were forced (for some unknown reason) to limp along using the Manfrotto quick release system, I would seriously consider this bracket.

    http://www.manfrotto.com/News+%26+Ev...ACKET/16712582

  10. #10
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    Re: Monopod Selection

    Richard,

    Thanks. I'll have to think about this. It might work.

    Dan

  11. #11
    Dr Bob's Avatar
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    Re: Monopod Selection

    Thanks for all the helpful comments and suggestions. I am taking all of this in. Sounds like the monopod selection itself is simple enough. Make sure I get one tall enough that will support the weight and it folds small enough for transport. It appears there are a few brands to selset from that will fit the bill.

    It seems like the open questions are swivel/tilt head or ball head and the quick release system. It sounds like the swivel/tilt head versus ball head is personal preference. Further comments on this would be much appreciated.

    The quick release sytem is something I had not considered. I currently have one of the Manfrotto RC2 attachments on my tripod but I am not so far into it that I can not switch. What are some of the additional advantages of the "Arca Swiss system"?

    Thanks.
    Dr Bob

  12. #12
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Monopod Selection

    "What are some of the additional advantages of the "Arca Swiss system"?"

    First, let me tell you the only disadvantage of the Arca Swiss System that I know of - it can be fairly pricey! However, there are companies offering Arca Swiss Compatible gear at rather low prices these days...

    One of the main advantages of an A/C system is that equipment from various manufacturers are basically interchangeable. You are not maried into the equipment from one manufacturer when you decide on using the A/C system.

    I have tripod heads from Adorama (Flashpoint) and from Giottos as well as a monopod swivel from Kirk these can generally be used with plates and L brackets from any manufacturer offering A/C quick release gear. The Giottos clamp has an glitch in that the safety stud allows slide in and out mounting and removal only of Giottos plates. However, any plate can be dropped in or lifted out.

    I use plates from a various number of manufacturers as well as L brackets from Really Right Stuff. The RRS L bracket is the cherry on the top of the cake for A/C equipment. It is the reason that I use A/C equipment exclusively. Kirk also sells L brackets and there is at least one Chinese manufacturer offfering these brackets. However, I only have personal knowledge of RRS equipment so I cannot discuss other brand L brackets. Here is a short video on the advantage of an L bracket...

    http://reallyrightstuff.com/WebsiteInfo.aspx?fc=80

    BTW: When using an L bracket, you can often utilize a lighter weight tripod/head because the camera doesn't hang cantilevered over to the side in the portrait position. It stands errect directly over the tripod's center of gravity. I use a modified SLIK Pro 330D tripod with a Flashpoint F-1 head and A/C clamp. The tripod weighs just two pounds but can support my 7D with 70-200mm f/4L IS lens with no problem. This modified tripod is my go-to travel (fits in my suitcase esily and is very light weight) and boonie tromping tripod. I also have a full size Giottos MT 8180 tripod and a Calumet monopod with a Kirk MPA-1 swivel. Any one of these can accept all of my lens plates and my RRS L brackets.

  13. #13
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    Re: Monopod Selection

    The interchangeability across manufacturers is the reason I would prefer to have all Arca-Swiss compatible gear. E.g., my regular ballhead is arca-swiss-compatible. However, I use a geared head for macro work, and it is not compatible, so when I want to use that head, I have to switch the plate on my camera as well. Most monopod plates are not compatible, so I have a third plate for that. And if you want to have separate plates for tripod rings, it starts becoming a real nuisance.

    One caveat: some manufacturers of arca-swiss compatible gear use a locking screw rather than a lever to lock and unlock the camera. My Induro head has a locking screw, and so do the Benro heads. This has two disadvantages. The minor one is that it is a tad slower to use. The more important one I only discovered this past week, when I was concentrating so hard on composition that I twice started loosening the locking screw for the plate rather than the locking screw for the ballhead motion. Fortunately, I realized in time what I was doing and did not drop the camera.

  14. #14
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Monopod Selection

    Dan... Which geared head do you use for macro work? Is it possible to switch the Q.R. clamp on your head to an A/C clamp? You mention "most monopod plates are not compatible" but, I am not sure exactly what you mean.

    Any monopod can be fitted with an A/C quick release plate alone, an A/C quick release plate on a swivel head or an A/C quick release plate on a ball head.

    Additionally, Kirk A/C clamps can be retrofitted to vitually any Q.R. system...

    http://www.kirkphoto.com/Universal-Q...se-Clamps.html

    http://www.kirkphoto.com/Specialty-Q...lamp-List.html

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