How to Use a Monopod

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How to Use a Monopod

A monopod is an important piece of equipment for any photographer or videographer to have. This product utilises one pole to support a video camera, camera, binoculars or other type of equipment, while a tripod uses three. Both monopods and tripods serve different purposes, and thus many professionals own one of each.

Monopods are more portable and set up quickly, making them great for on-the-go work. Those operating a monopod enjoy exceptional flexibility and range of motion, which enables them to follow fast-moving objects, such as a race-car or cheetah, much easier. Monopods also take up less space, which allows them to be used in tight spots. Additionally, monopods provide stability that picture takers simply can't get with their hand; this is especially true for cameras with long and/or large lenses, as photographers don't have to hold nearly as much weight.

 

Working with a Monopod

One downside (especially in comparison to tripods) is that it can be difficult for users to stabilise the monopod and keep the camera from wobbling. Monopods can't be used freestanding as well, and hence using one can get tiring. There are a variety of methods used to counteract these issues. Since every shot a photographer or videographer takes is different, there are different methods for different situations.

Technique 1: Form a Tripod

One way for users to get the stabilisation tripods offer is to physically form a triangle with their two feet and the monopod. Spread the legs anywhere from 30 to 50 centimetres apart and place the monopod in front, forming an equilateral triangle. This will make keeping the camera steady and taking clean shots easier.

Technique 2: Stand Like an Archer

The photographer should set up as if he or she is going to shoot a bow and arrow. Rest the monopod against the rear foot and then tilt the pole forward so that the camera is at the eye. This will reduce shake and hence lead to less blur.

Technique 3: Support with a Leg

Spread the legs apart just like with the tripod stance. This time, place the bottom of the pole behind one of the feet, and then rest the shaft against that leg. This helps keep the whole structure firm and stops the camera from wavering.

Technique 4: Stabilise with a Pouch

Put on a utility belt and attach a pouch. Simply open the pouch, fold up the bottom portion of the monopod and then place the shaft into the pouch. This helps reduce muscle strain, and is great for those going out for long shooting sessions. Moreover, it also greatly reduces the chance of shaky shots, as the shorter shaft equals greater control.

Technique 5: Reach Higher

For those looking to get a picture above a dancing crowd, over a fence or of a bird's nest in a tree, this is a great method. Simply hold the monopod up in the air, and it becomes possible to capture images that otherwise couldn't be viewed with the camera. Use a wireless remote, self-timer or an intervalometer to snap the photo.

Technique 6: Set against a Solid Object

Nature photographers can find a nice tree to support the stand. Those taking photos in the city can brace the monopod against a wall. Other objects, like a car, tent or pillar, work well, too.

Technique 7: Sit down or Kneel

Though this only works at certain heights, sitting down or kneeling to take shots with a monopods helps in controlling the camera more effectively, as photographers don't have to worry about unsteady legs messing up a shot.

 

Extra Tips for Photographing with a Monopod

Using a monopod with a swivel head allows for greater vertical motion, and also decreases the likelihood of the lens dropping or dipping as it moves up and down. Since most large digital SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras come with a rotating tripod collar, a head doesn't have to used sometimes, as this collar can be directly latched onto the top of the monopod; the collar allows for free motion in all directions.

Because stability is sometimes a concern when utilising a monopod, turn on vibration reduction. Another way to reduce the chance of motion is to place downward vertical pressure on the monopod by pressing gently with the hand. This is especially crucial when working with lenses that boast long focal length or when one is trying to get a crisp shot at a slower shutter speed.

When selecting a monopod, look for those that are sturdy yet lightweight. Aluminium is okay, but carbon fibre is ideal. Heights are adjustable, but make sure the range is suitable. Furthermore, ensure the monopod's maximum load is sufficient to handle the camera that will be placed on top of it.

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