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Thread: Monopod - Do I add a head?

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    Member superbee15's Avatar
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    Smile Monopod - Do I add a head?

    Late last year I went to a special day at car race experience day and I took along a new monopod and old camera with new long (sigma) lens. Now this was only about the 3/4 occasion that I had used a monopod and 1st time at car races. Originally I got the pod to help with lens weight. At the race day I found it created many new problems for me. i..e being able to adjust to different alignment directions/levels (the best way I can describe at present).

    After this session I decided that maybe an adjustable head would help with this situation. This I also felt it would be of benefit when out taking shots of birds.

    Thus I went to local shop to talk to them about a new ball type head but was informed by shop person that I didn't need a head and that I must be using the pod incorrectly. Now maybe I was incorrect in use but I was still surprised. With that I put this subject away for a while.

    So without opening a 'can of worms' I was wondering what others do when attaching camera/lens to monopod and takings shots of subjects that move around a fair bit?

    Maybe it's just me but I find it hard to imagine that the professionals at the football side line with their gear on monopods, attaching camera direct to top of monpod which restrict greatly the near and far camera levelling not to mention someone running across you.

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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    In most instances, yes.

    There are dedicated monopod heads that only offer vertical adjustment, the horizontal achieved by swivelling it.

    I'd advise finding one that not only supports your gear but stays where you align it. By that I mean you can move your gear up and down but it doesn't droop when you stop moving it.

    You mentioned shooting birds, and having a head that doesn't droop, particularly when panning birds in flight, is a must.
    Last edited by Cage; 08-04-2017 at 2:42pm.
    Cheers
    Kev

    Nikon D810: D600 (Astro Modded): D7200 and 'stuff', lots of 'stuff'

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    Ausphotography Addict Gazza's Avatar
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    Definitely need something I reckon -

    I use a monopod all the time while birding and have a 'Ball Head' which means I can swivel any which way I like.
    I often spend a lot of time standing in the one spot waiting for something more interesting to happen, or hoping they move onto a better perch or into better light. Having the camera/lens resting at eye level and ready to go is an advantage.
    My setup also has a 'Quick Release' which means I can drop the monopod/ball head with little effort when trying​ for those BIF's images.

    Not sure if this correct, but seems legit....
    I was told when using a monopod to angle it out in front of you and rest on it, that way your legs become the back two stabilisers as in a tripod. (Hope that makes sense?)



    Cheers -
    Last edited by Gazza; 08-04-2017 at 3:00pm. Reason: My therapist says I have a preoccupation with vengeance.# We'll see about that!
    If you replace the 'W' with 'T' in When, Where and What, you get the answer for each question.
    CC more than welcome. Remember, I can't be offended so go for it. Feel free to post your ideas with an edit if you have time. Thanks in advance.



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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    I might add that when you are looking around you can take manufacturers stated weight capacity with a large grain of salt.

    My first monopod head was a very nice looking unit with a stated carrying capacity of 15Kg. I have a feeling that manufacturers base their load capacities on what the head will safely hold with your gear level and centred. However when you aim your lens up at say 45° you can forget about the stated capacities.

    My particular head, which wasn't a real cheapie, costing me around 150 bucks, would not even hold 2.5kgs when elevated, slowly drooping and taking my subject out of the frame.

    I replaced it with a Kirk monopod head and I can assure you that when set, it is moveable but doesn't droop, and will last me a long, long time.

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    I use a Manfrotto 322RC2 heavy duty grip ball head. The head is adjustable for grip strength/friction. Not cheap even s/h, but works well for me.

    Carry the monopod over my shoulder with the camera and lens attached with a Manfrotto QR plate on the lens tripod ring. The monopod is quite long when fully extended, so can be used as a third leg for stability.

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    Ausphotography Regular J.davis's Avatar
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    I have one of these
    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Benro-Adv...UAAOSwSlBYr2sb
    and one of these
    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Benro-DJ9...0AAOSw5cNYVq6d

    and it makes birding and track days a breeze. Unlock the foot from the lens so you can rotate the camera while panning.
    Regards
    John
    Nikon D750, Sigma 105mm OS Macro, Tokina 16-28 F2.8, Sigma 24-105 Art, Sigma 150-600C,
    Benro Tripod and Monopod with Arca plates


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    Ausphotography Addict Gazza's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gazza View Post
    Having the camera/lens resting at eye level and ready to go is an advantage.
    I should've added , it's less likely to frighten your subject having things ready to go and in place rather than swinging a heavy camera/lens up to the eye everytime thing get interesting.

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    Great thanks for all comments. So I need to obtain something.

    I don't have a tripod and only have used a borrowed one with a video head on a couple of occasions. So I have no experience with ball type heads.

    It would seem to me that an small amount of friction (particularly in the vertical plane) in a head would be important with the situations I described?

    What about a gymbal?
    Has anyone made their own gymbal?

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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superbee15 View Post
    What about a gymbal? Has anyone made their own gymbal?
    What about one of these if you go the tripod route. http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...light=sidekick

    Sidekick pic.jpg

    You still need a ballhead, one with a 90° slot and a panning base, and one that will support the weight of your gear without twisting.
    Last edited by Cage; 09-04-2017 at 12:24pm.

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    Ausphotography Regular Brian500au's Avatar
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    I have used quite a few different types of heads on both a monopod and a tripod.

    In the end nothing has the free movement of being hand held but as people have said above this is not always convenient due to weight etc.

    For my own personal experience I own both a Sirui and a Kirk monopod head I use on my two Sirui carbon monopods (326 / 424). I have found when it comes to wild life shooting you spend a lot of time waiting around for the right moment, and the lens and camera body do get rather heavy. I find it quite easy to grab the monopod, camera and lens still attached, throw it over my shoulder if i need to move positions too.

    My second set up is a full gimbal head on a sturdy gitzo tripod. I really don't use this much as it is quite heavy, but I have used it in places like Yellowstone Nation Park when photographing bison, dear etc. I also used it up in the Arctic circle when photographing polar bears and seals. In both cases I was in a stationary for long periods of time and could just leave the tripod / gimbal set up ready to shoot.

    My third setup is a sturdy ball head with a sidekick on a travel tripod. This is the alternative set up when i need a light weight kit when constricted by airplane travel weight.

    In the end I think a sturdy carbon fibre monopod with a good quality monopod head will suffice for 95% of the above shooting scenarios. With my last trip to both Sri Lanka and Borneo I took both my light weight tripod / sidekick and the monopod set up. The tripod / sidekick did not see daylight as the monopod / head was all i needed. The other advantage of a monopod over a tripod apart from weight is the convenience of adjusting the height fairly quickly - if you have to, you can lift the camera and lens whilst still connected to the monopod.

    If you do want to try a full gimbal head you can pick up a chinese knock off from ebay for around $100. I have owned one of these and they are quite good for a lighter set up. I am not sure if I would hang my 500mm off them but 300mm (or 150 - 600) is fine. You do see sidekicks come up for sale every now and again secondhand but I am not aware of anybody making a knockoff.
    www.kjbphotography.com.au

    1Dx, EOS R, 200-400 f4L Ext, 100-400 f4.5-5.6L II, 70-200 F4IS, 24-70 F2.8, 16-35 F4IS


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    Thanks Cage and Brian will keep looking.

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Some good answers above.
    What gear do you have?
    I know some like a ball head but I find it easy enough to get by with a tilt-head on the monopod. I can't imagine using a monopod without some freedom of movement.
    Recent photos using monopod and tilthead here ... http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...ts-an-a-Darter
    A member here has helped me suggesting good prices on Sirui stuff. Good stuff at their price.

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    MArk
    I currently have the Canon 550D (hopefully may change in next 12 months) and the heaviest lens is Sigma 150-600 C which is why looking for head on monopod.

    Monopod (no tripod) is Promaster (carbon)

    Could not find Sirui in Brissie.

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    Quote Originally Posted by superbee15 View Post
    . . . I currently have the Canon 550D (hopefully may change in next 12 months) and the heaviest lens is Sigma 150-600 C which is why looking for head on monopod.
    I guess from your recent response that even though this is an old thread, you have not yet moved on anything since you first posted the OP. Maybe take a fresh look and a rethink.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by superbee15 View Post
    . . . I went to a special day at car race experience day and I took along a new monopod and old camera with new long (sigma) lens. . . I got the pod to help with lens weight. At the race day I found it created many new problems for me. i..e being able to adjust to different alignment directions/levels (the best way I can describe at present). . . After this session I decided that maybe an adjustable head would help with this situation. This I also felt it would be of benefit when out taking shots of birds. . . I went to local shop to talk to them about a new ball type head but was informed by shop person that I didn't need a head and that I must be using the pod incorrectly. Now maybe I was incorrect in use but I was still surprised. With that I put this subject away for a while. . . I was wondering what others do when attaching camera/lens to monopod and takings shots of subjects that move around a fair bit? . . . I find it hard to imagine that the professionals at the football side line with their gear on monopods, attaching camera direct to top of monpod which restrict greatly the near and far camera levelling not to mention someone running across you.
    I think that the Shop Assistant knew what he was talking about, apropos race cars football and other fast moving sports.

    I use a Manfrotto Monopod usually with a 400/2.8 or 300/2.8 sometimes a 70 to 200/2.8.

    I’ve used those lenses (or similar) for Field Hockey; Swimming; Gymnastics; Track and Field; Snowboarding; Rugby and Rugby League.

    I very rarely have ever used an Head: the monopod is connected directly to the Tripod Collar Mount of the lens. As tight as possible. The Tripod Collar is a little loose to allow quick re-orientation of the camera, i.e. Vertical to Horizontal. I don’t know of many (any?) professional sports shooters who, as a matter of typical shooting, use an Head on a Monopod when using a Telephoto or Super Telephoto Lens. This is a typical rig:



    Note also, that is NO quick release plate: a gorilla-proof bond between the Tripod Collar Mount and the Monopod is essential for stable shooting and also for safe carriage.

    The shooting technique is to use the right hand on the camera for: Focus; Exposure; and Shutter release and the left hand is for the downward pressure and dampener, this left hand is located halfway between the Tripod Collar Mount and the front end of the lens.

    The one Head that have used on a Monopod, only on the the odd occasion, is a Manfrotto (Bogen/Manfrotto) 3232 Tilt Head. This Head is no longer available and I think that the replacement has a quick release plate, which is a big no-no, IMO. This head (and other like it) are TILT only. This is useful when shooting downward at reasonably close range to the action for example from a Lighting Gantry in an Arena or Gymnasium.

    I would never and have never used a Ball Head on a Monopod when using a Telephoto or Super Telephoto Lens.

    ***

    When mounted on a Monopod, it is easy to move the camera in a panning motion. (Horizontal).

    (The amount and ease of) Tilting is directly related to the Subject Distance (farther is easier) and the Monopod Length (shorter is easier).

    It would be unusual to shoot a Subject at a very close SD with telephoto lens, so we can assume that all the Subjects will be at a reasonably distant SD, thus remains the Monopod Length – and that’s one reason why professional Sports Photographer will typically shorten the Monopod Length as the SD lessens: one other main reason is to have the Camera Elevation lower than the Eyelevel of the Subject, this is to give a greater visual impact to the shot.

    Birds in Flight are a different kettle of kippers to race cars and field sports: I don’t shoot Birds in Flight in any serious manner and would defer to those who do: but I do think that a Ball Head is not in that equation.

    Birds ‘not in flight’ are easily shot with a Monopod and no Head.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 02-06-2017 at 12:37am.

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    Thanks WW.

    Yes an older post with no decision on my part- been off with other projects and this took back seat.

    Good to get a different take on things and get some more insight which is what I was after. Maybe the shop person new but I still did not think they were helpful and to a degree maybe belittling.

    I understand about no ball head that would be not great.

    The 1st experience with lens and mono was on cruise ship in Auckland harbour trying to get shot of seaplane taking off. This ended up going across me and slightly away. I found it near impossible (I am amateur and always will be lol) as the angle down was changing as was the horizontal angle changing as well and monopod seemed to hinder so I lifted the whole lot as no time to muck about.

    After that cruise I went to the race afternoon but I only had 3 laps to do photos and this setup was still new to me and from that I felt like a head on monopod would help as the setup seemed to present similar problems to the seaplane situation.

    In reality I would much rather shoot birds than cars but as my wife is a V8 enthusiast I will still do those as well. However, actual races (as against a couple of quick laps) allow one to plan better I think lessening the need for a head. But if you have one on then would it not be useful?
    Last edited by superbee15; 04-06-2017 at 10:32am.

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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    As I said above, you need a Monopod Tilt Head, and you need a good quality one that won't droop. By that I mean that when you tighten the locking knob you can still move your gear up and down but it won't droop under it's own weight.

    I had a Sirui L10 that was stated as supporting 15kgs and it did when my gear was level, but elevate your gear to 30-40° and it would only hold it firm when tightened really hard.

    The Kirk monopod head I replaced it with has a 'sweet spot' where you tighten it to a point where it won't droop but will still allow you to move it up and down, a big plus when birding as you don't have to touch the lock knob to change elevation.

    There may be a Chinese knock-off that will do the same job but I don't know of any. I've found that when I've tried the 'cheap 'n' cheerful' route with heads they look the same but invariably fall down in the engineering of the locking mechanism.

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    Member Morgo's Avatar
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    I use this combo with my super teles (300 2.8, 200-400, 600 f4) when not using a Gitzo and full gimbal.

    http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/MC-4...-Fiber-Monopod
    http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/MH-0...-release-clamp

    Supports my big gear easily and its built to last. The arca swiss mount and quick lever release setup is very handy when switching out gear.

    The head is only a tilt, you swivel the monopod to turn.

    With out the tilt head I find monopod's too restrictive with big glass. Don't use a ball head.

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    Thanks Cage and Morgo.

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    I use the RRS MH-01 Pro Tilt Monopod Head on my Gitzo 5540 CF monopod though I prefer the screw clamp. If you can clamp the monopod to a racetrack fence rail or safari vehicle rail, I'd rather use an RRS pano-tilt head if hand -held shooting is out of the question.

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