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Thread: Tripod/Monopod alternative

  1. #1
    IShootPeople's Avatar
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    Tripod/Monopod alternative

    Hey all, long time no post! I keep meaning to get back here, but I haven't been doing much at all lately with my photography so I haven't.

    However, I do have a question. My parents and I will be going to Hawai'i this year on a vacation and I'm going a little bit crazy trying to prepare. I'm buying myself a GoPro camera to use on any snorkeling trips, and I'm very much looking forward to that!

    I would VERY much like to get a Canon 18-200 IS lens before I go to replace two of my old staple lenses, but I'm just not sure I can afford it right now. So, instead of that, I was wondering if there are any sort of tripod/monopod alternatives that can help me cut down on camera shake that I experience when using my 75-300 lens at the upper end of its range? I have a fairly steady hand, but just cannot eliminate the blur that comes from the lens being so extended. Because I don't know where we will be going and how often I'll be using the lens, I don't want to tote a tripod or monopod around with me (plus I'd rather not have to get a tripod into my suitcase!)

    Any alternative suggestions would be very much appreciated!!

  2. #2
    Adrian's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    Many people use a small beanbag to use as a steadying support. Then any handy wall, post etc becomes a makeshift tripod. A small tripod (there are several brands that wrap around things or stand alone at just a few inches tall) will provide stability for many shots, especially if you use a remote release of some kind to minimise vibration.

    And the final advice is get closer! Avoid using extended zoom range when you can, though this can be difficult.

    There are several carbon fibre monopods that telescope down to a very small size and which weigh little. Maybe time to visit your local camera store.

  3. #3
    kdoc856's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    Hi, Kim

    A monopod will definitely help- I usually feel I can get about 2 EV stops out of it. And they are allowed in many places that you cant get a tripod into. But also, crank up that ISO. I used to stand on my head to avoid going over 400, but now think very little of 1600 and even 3200 if the dynamic range isnt too wide. The higher shutter speeds you can get will make a big difference.

  4. #4

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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    Instead of a beanbag, I would suggest a medium/sized sized inflatable pillow and a remote release.

    Those neck pillows that some people use on planes will do too.

    Renting a tripod in Hawaii could also be an option.

  5. #5
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    Some travel tripods have a removable leg that turns into a monopod. Definitely a handy feature.

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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    I've been using a monopod for many years and it helps immensely. I'm never without it. With use, you will find it can be more than just a single column of support. Bracing it on an angle against trees, rocks, your leg, etc will add another level of stability. Also consider the hiking pole/monopod if you are that way inclined. A monopod does not have to be as hefty as some tripod legs. You're just using it to supplement your arms and body to control the up and down vibration so light ones work fine in most cases.

  7. #7

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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    Basically, Kim, keep your shutter speed above 1/300 for hand held shots.

    Also, this unusual method can help http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/ROCK/ROCK.HTM

  8. #8
    IShootPeople's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    Thank you so much for the suggestions! I took another look at monopods and I am surprised at how many are out there that seem to be light weight and very portable, not to mention very affordable!

    I still have so much to learn and get comfortable with in my photography. I'm mentally stuck on 400 ISO, and grain from the higher ISOs bothers me! I've got to get out of that mentality and focus more on substance. I'll be trying to get some better practice between now and this summer when we go.

    Thank you again for all the suggestions! I hope I will have some wonderful shots to share with you come late June!!

  9. #9

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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    Basically, any support will help to steady the camera (walls, trees, whatever).
    I've also seen a trick where they use a piece of (strong) string, attached to
    the camera in place of a tripod (pull on it to stabilise the camera).

  10. #10

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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    Quote Originally Posted by revi View Post
    Basically, any support will help to steady the camera (walls, trees, whatever).
    I've also seen a trick where they use a piece of (strong) string, attached to
    the camera in place of a tripod (pull on it to stabilise the camera).
    That is the method mentioned in the link which I gave above. It does help providing the length between loop under foot and bottom of camera is correct.

  11. #11
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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    Kim:
    I bought an 18" Opteka carbon fiber monopod that extends to almost 84" and weighs less than a pound for about $65 on-line. It came with a light carrying case and fits easily in my suitcase. I also carry a small nylon bag with a drawstring. When I get to the area where I'm going to be shooting, I go to a grocery store and buy an inexpensive bag of dry beans. Put those in the nylon bag, draw the string and you have a great photo base. Good luck and enjoy Hawaii. I enjoy it every day!

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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    Hi, Kim. I cant offer any other advise that hasn't already been covered by these other nice people. I just wanted to say enjoy that GoPro. I got one last year and absolutely love it. One of our local News Anchors borrowed mine to film a story. They're awesome little units.

  13. #13
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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    Ive used the bean bag trick several times with good results. But I use sand instead of beans, and make certain the bag is sealed tightly so the sand doesn't get into the lenses and switches. Sand seems to give better support than beans, probably because of the weight. I made up a bag of my own from buckskin, rough side out, so the rough surface sort of "grabs" the camera better. When finished for the day, I just dump the sand, fold the bag and pack it away. In Hi, you shouldn't have any trouble finding sand . . . One friend, who is a skeet shooter, uses a half empty shot bag and it works quite nicely too. I prefer the buckskin because of the softness of the skin, which means I can plop it on any painted surface, like my car hood, without scratching.

    Z

  14. #14
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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    A monopod is not large or heavy and can do a world of good in stabilizing a longer focal length lens...

    Your 75-300mm lens is not exceptionally sharp when zoomed to its maximum. That may also contribute to the blur...

    One way of stabilizing a camera is to insert a 1/4" x 20 screw with a string attached to it into the tripod socket of your camera. Tie a washer to the other end of the string which should be as long as from the bottom of the camera to the ground when the camera is raised to your eye. Step on the string and put some pressure against it. It will stabilize the camera somewhat.

    Along with that, try to develop a proper holding stance with two hands holding the camera and the camera pressed against your forehead. Lock your elbows into your gut and hold your breath slightly. Press the shutter button gradually, don't jam it down. Additonally, often shooting in a three shot burst mode will ensure that the middle shot is less impacted by the motion of pressing or releasing the shutter button...

    Don't use the LCD as a viewfinder...

    Finally, a used 55-250mm IS lens is relatively inexpensive and has IS capability... Combined with the 18-55mm IS kit lens it makes a nice lightweight package with decent image quality...

  15. #15
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    How about good old fashioned hand holding the camera. Choose an appropriate shutter speed, ISO value and f-stop. I will sometimes just hold my breath and steady myself and get the shot. Other times I will lean on a car hood, or brace myself against a tree. Other times I will use a piece of clothing as a brace.

  16. #16
    CP140's Avatar
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    Re: Tripod/Monopod alternative

    What could really help is a "trick" sharp shooters use... take a deep breath, exhale half way, hold your breath, fire the shot, exhale the rest of the way.

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