View Full Version : Tripods & Monopods

12-24-2004, 10:53
How many here use either - or both - a tripod or monopod on a fairly regular basis? What models do you use and in what situations?

I just took some pictures of the angel on top of our Christmas tree using a Zorki-4 and a Jupiter-9 85mm lens and a Jupiter-11 135mm lens. The camera was mounted on a Slik M410 tripod that was designed for 4x5 view cameras. It weighs 8.5 pounds without the camera.

I also have a cheap Goldcrest tripod that I bought in late 1968 and (Lord knows why) I still have. One lower leg won't maintain lock so it's pretty useless if I need full extension. I throw it behind the seat of the truck for occasions when I might find need for it.

My son is bringing me a new tripod this afternoon to replace the Goldcrest. It's a SunPac 7500 with two QD plates. It's a couple of pounds lighter than the Slik and will hold up to 11 pounds or 5 Kilos.

I don't own a monopod but would like to hear from those who do.

So tell me about your tripods/monopods. What do you use and why?


12-24-2004, 13:02
I use a tripod 80 percent of the time.
I have the Bogen DIGI series. Black with built in ball head and
includes a carry bag for about $100. Great if you hike and are
not over 5ft 8. I Have owned several Bogen 3021 (very nice)
and 3001 models(too short). Have owned a 300 series Gitzo(too heavy) The Gitzo 220? series was perfect, wish I still had it.
Had a few cheapies before I got wise, wasted money on them.

12-24-2004, 13:45
I use a tripod or a monopod quite often - but not with my rangefinders (since I use the those for quick, available-light handheld shooting); I use my monopod (a measly Manfrotto 190 - I think it is sold as Bogen 3001 in the US) for night shooting with my 35mm and MF SLRs (it handles the Mamiya 645 Super well, though the Kiev 60 w/ CZJ Sonnar 180mm is challenging its limits...), and I almost always use my Manfrotto monopod fo any other kind of shooting with the MF SLRs.


12-24-2004, 14:00
I use some form of support whenever possible -- tripod or monopod depending. A monopod can often be braced against something to give the same support as a tripod, so I'll often take a monopod when traveling. I use Schactler, Linhof, and Gitzo tripods, an old Gitzo monopod, and either Gitzo or Linhof heads.

Merry Christmas,


12-24-2004, 16:52
Roman & Honu, thanks for the replies. Both of you are using some very good tripods/monopods.

I just took a walk around my neighborhood taking pictures of Christmas lights. I had the new SunPak 7500 tripod and my Kiev-4AM loaded with Agfa 200 film sold as Walgreen Pharmacy brand. This is an experiment on my part so I have no idea how they'll turn out. With the tripod, at least I don't have to worry about shake. Most shots were taken at 3/4 of a second (what my 1/2 second setting gives) at f/5.6 or f/8. Some were taken at f/11 and about 2 - 3 seconds using the self-timer on the "B" setting. The night is still so there was no wind to worry about.

I still have 13 more exposures to take and then I can find out how I did.


12-24-2004, 21:31
I frequently use a tripod - with the rangefinders where traveling light is a goal, I use a Velbon Max i 343E. It weighs just under 2 pounds and works rather nicely.

I really do not do much street photography and speed is rarely an issue, so a tripod and a cable release are both a big help to me - a lot of bracketing, a lot of waiting for a particular expression, a lot of low light early morning or dusk landscape work.

I've never used a monopod, but have always been tempted to buy one.

12-24-2004, 22:19
I own a Slik U212 tripod and a Tiltall monopod, but I never use either one with an RF camera (except when testing lenses etc.) Like Roman, I like to use the RF for situations that put a premium on mobility and agility, so a tri/monopod would be counterproductive.

I use the monopod a lot when doing theater shooting with the SLR. A tripod cuts down on my mobility too much when moving around a theater, but the monopod is fairly easy to move with. I don't really need the stability now that I have a vibration-reduction lens, but that honker is heavy -- the monopod helps support the weight so my arm doesn't get as tired.

The tripod gets used mainly for studio shots with an SLR. I don't especially need the steadiness since I'm shooting with electronic flash -- but having the camera in a fixed position makes it easier to set up shots.

If you work primarily indoors, though, don't forget an alternative: a vertical column camera stand, the kind that's mounted on casters. I use one of these at work, and it makes changing camera height much quicker than with a tripod. It's also easier to move around the studio, and can get closer to tabletop setups. The main drawback to these stands is that they aren't exactly portable, so you still need a tripod for location shots.

12-25-2004, 04:41
I am working on a project with a youth orchestra where I use a tripod a lot. I have a Gitzo G1228 with a Linhof Profi II ballhead that uses an Arca/Swiss QR type system. Great rig. :)

back alley
12-25-2004, 05:21
although i have owned some very nice (& expensive) tripods, i never really liked or used any of them.
i think that's part of the attraction of street shooting, no tripods.

i sold the last one i had, a lovely gitzo (reporter, i think).
i still have a barely used monopod that i sometimes carry more as a potential weapon than camera support.


Nikon Bob
12-25-2004, 06:10
I hate using a tripod but when necessary use a Manfrotto 055 and Slik ball head. It is too heavy to lug around on trips unless it is by car. For longer trips by air I take a Velbon Maxi i 345E and found it very useful if a bit shaky for low light outdoor shots. Has anyone tried the 1/4 inch eyebolt and string trick as a substitute for a monopod?


12-25-2004, 06:24
I'm allergic to tripods :cool:

But I do use them with long lenses (200mm and up) on my SLR's and for non-scurrying macro shots. I have a Manfrotto tripod and ball head. Mid-range stuff and good enough for my needs. I also have a Manfrotto monopod but I've never got the hang of using one. I get more camera movement than not using one at all. Operator error, I'm sure!

One combo I like for low light -- a Leica tabletop tripod with my Manfrotto ball head attached. I can prop this against a wall or rail, or push the feet into my chest and use it as a chestpod. Folds up fairly compactly too.


Nikon Bob
12-25-2004, 07:25

Funny you should mention getting more movement with a monopod than without it. That has been my brief experience with monopods too. Glad to see it is not just me.


12-25-2004, 08:29
Originally posted by Gene
I also have a Manfrotto monopod but I've never got the hang of using one. I get more camera movement than not using one at all.

One combo I like for low light -- a Leica tabletop tripod with my Manfrotto ball head attached. I can prop this against a wall or rail, or push the feet into my chest and use it as a chestpod. Folds up fairly compactly too.

I've read numerous times that a monopod is essentially worthless as a support and generally causes more shake than hand-holding. Your experience - and Bob's - is further verification. I don't own one but have considered it.

The table tripod in the chest trick is one I've also read about and it would seem to be worthwhile. One of these days I'll break down and buy one.


12-25-2004, 12:19
Well, I find a monopod very useful - but only with cameras that have a waist level finder; I can imagine that without the right experience, using a monopod at eyelevel will get you worse results than handheld, but with an MF camera with WLF, it's almost like your own two legs in combination with the monopod form a perfect tripod; with my M645 Super and a wide to normal lens, 1/15 is not a problem at all, and I often get away with 1/8 sec. (whereas handheld you can forget anything below 1/60 with this camera)!


12-25-2004, 12:45
A good counterpoint, Roman. That's worth remembering as I have TLR's and a Mamiya 645..... one of the first models with the 1/500th shutter. (I bought it new about 1975) I normally use it with the eye-level prism finder but do have the waist-level finder too.


back alley
12-25-2004, 13:36
monopods work best with long, big & heavy lenses. that's the reason you see them on the sidelines at many sports events.


12-26-2004, 02:05
My tripods (small Gizo and larger Manfrotto) do not get much fresh air, especially Manfrotto is a bit heavy to carry longer times.
I sometimes use a walking-stick (Komperdell) with a ball head as a monopod. It gives a nice additional support with a tree, fence etc.
My favourite support is Leitz table tripod with a ball head. I have not used the "chest trick" very often, but it maybe helps. I have considered a new type of "sandbag", with a camera screw (called ThePod or something like that). Anybody experiences??
Cheers, Esa

back alley
12-26-2004, 05:45
years ago i use to carry a sock filled with rice or hard peas (i think). this was when i did more landscape stuff out in the bush. it was easier than carrying a tripod.
i would rest my cmaera on the sack which had been placed on anything that i could find and that would work i.e. a tree stump or the v of a tree.


12-26-2004, 07:37
Speaking of tabletop tripods, I recommend the following combination:

Manfrotto 3007 Tabletop Tripod Legs - ~US$14.95
Manfrotto 3007X Extension for Table Top Tripod - ~US$17.95
Slik SBH-120 Compact Ballhead 120 - ~US$29.50

Light, inexpensive and works really well. The little Slik ballhead has a lockable rotating pan function! :)

12-26-2004, 12:04
If I used ISO 50 or 100 films more, I'd probably use the tripod more. I should use it more anyway, but it's a bother and so I don't. I've had my big Bogen (3025 I think) for quite a long time, and I'm happy with it. My wife and I share a Bogen monopod too.

12-27-2004, 07:08
Monopods are perhaps an acquired taste. I did not use one for years and when I started there was some awkwardness, but I have since found them to be useful. They eliminate one axis of movement (vertical) and are extremely portable. I try to brace mine against something solid whenever possible, then it becomes as stable as a tripod. I also use it as a gaffer's pole, walking stick, and along with a tripod as a second stabilizing point for SLR/long lenses.


12-27-2004, 12:35
I use both, depending on whether I want maximum stability, or some stability with ease of movement. I use the Bogen 4-section carbon fiber tripod with their small (410?) geared head, and the Bogen carbon fiber monopod with a pair of one-way swivels. The geared head is great for the kind of static shooting I prefer, making fine adjustments easy, but no good really for any kind of moving shot. I'd rather have a fluid head for that. The two tiny heads on the monopod give me two axis of movement, to make it quick to flip over to vertical, or adjust the gross tilt.

Like others I use tripod for RF only rarely. If I'm taking the tripod, I'll be packing a Nikon, or something larger. The monopod is more versital for both, but I usually just go hand-held with the RF's.

As far as stability with the monopod, I find that I get fairly good control by having the stick angled just a bit forward, pressing the camera to my eye and leaning into it some. It's sort of like a "loose" tripod. I shot the Blue Angels on the monopod a couple of years ago, and was quite pleased with the results at 200mm. It gave me stable panning I would otherwise have had only with a fluid head on a tripod.

12-27-2004, 16:24
Originally posted by Nikon Bob
Has anyone tried the 1/4 inch eyebolt and string trick as a substitute for a monopod?


Never heard of this trick. How's it work?

12-27-2004, 17:21
Originally posted by CleverName
Never heard of this trick. How's it work?

Purchase a 1/4x20 threaded eye-bolt and screw it into the camera's tripod socket. Attach a string that's long enough to reach the ground when the camera is at eye-level. Bring the camera to your eye and then step on the string while using upward pressure to keep the camera to your eye. The downward pressure of the string and the upward pressure of your hands will tend to give you a steady camera. It's an old trick but still one that works.


Nikon Bob
12-28-2004, 06:57
That answers that question.


Brian Sweeney
12-28-2004, 07:06
I have a Goldcrest Tripod that I bought in 1970 and it Still Works!!! I use it with the 1000mm Meade. It actually has the 1/4" screw were it should be, ON THE TRIPOD!!!

I also used a Monopod with the 500mm lens for photographing birds on a wetlands. It gave the ability to reposition the camera quickly and gave better stability than hand-held alone.

12-28-2004, 07:51
Originally posted by Brian Sweeney
I have a Goldcrest Tripod that I bought in 1970 and it Still Works!!! I use it with the 1000mm Meade. It actually has the 1/4" screw were it should be, ON THE TRIPOD!!!

My Goldcrest, bought in 1968, has gone bad. It has flip-lock legs and one refuses to even hold the weight of the bare tripod. I used it for a lot of years though. My new SunPak 7500 is quite an upgrade with better leg locks, levels and QD plates.

My father only owned one tripod his entire life...... a Quikset (sp?) that was considered at one time to be as good as there was.


12-28-2004, 08:24
Originally posted by WDG
...As far as stability with the monopod, I find that I get fairly good control by having the stick angled just a bit forward, pressing the camera to my eye and leaning into it some...

I also read about this technique, and find it works very well for eye-level shots, only way to go, really.

Mono-pods eliminate the small shakes you get in your hands, and from mirror-slap with reflex cameras, but below 1/15th sec. the movement of the mono-pod itself, however slight, starts to become noticeable. I find they are best used in situations where there is enough light for hand-held photography, but you want the extra sharpness a tripod gives. For low-light situations, I still use a tripod.

My main issue with tripods is the attention they attract, and the fact that they are forbidden in many places. When I'm carrying mine, I get lots of comments, and sometimes feel I'm carrying a sign that reads "This person has something worth stealing". When I'm carrying a mono-pod (basically a 2ft piece of metal pipe), people may still look, but keep their comments to themselves.

I never considered a mono-pod until I bought a Bronica-S2 (a four pound 6x6 SLR), and quickly learned that while it is possible to shoot it hand-held, it's not especially pleasant and there's no way I'm going to carry a tripod everywhere.. I have also come to use it a lot with my Nikon F2.

For hand-held daylight photography, I've found that any 35mm RF camera with a good lens will give results almost as good as a tripod mounted SLR, and that's why it's my camera of choice for 90% of what I shoot.

Kin Lau
12-28-2004, 11:24
Tripod or monopod with a RF? What's the point? As others have mentioned, that's when we go light and unencumbered.

For my SLR's, I use a Vivitar PL300 with an old Manifrotto ball head, especially with time exposures, macro and long lenses. But I still like handholding most of the time. Almost all of my shots on DSLRX are handheld with a 500mm

I do occasionally use a cheap monopod with my long tele's, and it works fine, but that pod's getting much too beatup and it's somewhat short too. I'm looking for a good replacement. The only lenses I use the mono with, are those with a collar around the lense.