Monopod - Ballhead

Monopod – Ballhead

OK, an article mostly off topic for this web site, gear. Specifically Monopods and Ballheads. They have been an ongoing topic of conversation and comments. Just today with Donna from BayPhoto.

So, it’s raining…again. I went to the car and dragged out my favorite Monopod. Apologize in advance, I did not clean it.

This setup is at least 7 years old and has seen lots of use.

Monopod - Ballhead
Monopod – Ballhead

A monopod is portable, lighter than a Tripod, and much more versatile when out shooting wildlife. Cumbersome for birds in flight, but with practice it is doable, less keepers because you will be flailing around.

The Monopod is a Benro ‘Adventure X’ model. They have multiples, I use the 3 length model, for no particular reason. It is tall enough that I never pull it out full length (not that I am tall). Cost is $ 150 – 250 US dollars. Average price for good ‘pro’ gear.

Carbon fiber, a soft rubber grip, and (important) a strong fabric loop.

Carbon Fiber is strong and light. I have used my Benro as a walking stick when stuck in deep snow. Even after falling it has held me up with no problems.

The loop, just use an old military style belt through it and now you can carry it over your shoulder. It weighs nothing. Carrying anything while out is a pain, you don’t want it attached all the time, this makes it easy. A Tripod is like carrying around the Eiffel Tower, and scaring everything in a 2 mile radius.

Monopod - Ballhead
Monopod – Ballhead

Flip locks are the main reason I use this. I can hold the camera/lens in one hand and flip open / close the legs instantly. No screwing rubber rings that take time and too much movement.

The small rubber foot is both good and bad, mostly good. On a hard surface it gives leverage and stable motion. When it gets caught is dead grass…not so good, stuck in mud, hope no one is watching.

The flip locks will get loose after a few years, simple to tighten with an Allen Wrench. I have tightened maybe 3 times over the years.

Monopod - Ballhead
Monopod – Ballhead

You can’t tighten a twist lock if they get loose. In fairness we have some and they are not loose yet after years.

Monopod - Ballhead
Monopod – Ballhead

A proper Ballhead is more expensive than the Monopod.

Personally I think a Gimbal type is too bulky for a Monopod. Probably best for Tripods.

Above is an Induro with quick release. This exact model is no longer available. It appears they simply changed the number, marketing at it’s finest. Cost here is $ 150-250 US.

There is more then enough flexibility and motion range options with this head.

This type has a bottom plate and must be screwed to the base of the camera or long lens. I keep a short screwdriver in my bag, a US quarter (25 cent) coin works fine too.

There are easier quick release styles that work with a ‘button’ push to release the camera. Might be called Arca Swiss.ย  I have a light weight one, too light for this. That type of release viewed online was either part of smaller Ballheads or expensive models. Both fine depending on your use.

In summary, this is the setup I keep in the car. We shoot constantly, so all the above has proven to be durable. The Benro in use at -10 below up to 100+, a lot.

 

 

7 thoughts on “Monopod – Ballhead”

  1. I am always interested to see what gear other folks are using. I use a monopod most of the time when using my Tamron 150-600mm lens and, in fact, generally walk around with my camera attached to the monopod during this time of the year–it helps me keep socially distanced. My monopod is similar to yours in most respects, including the flip-type adjustment levers, but it is made by Oben and is aluminum, not carbon fiber. The bottom has a rubber tip, which I happen to like, because I often jam it into mud or into the water–your swivel foot would be a pain for me. As for the head, I have found that a ballhead is overkill for me and instead I use a simple, cheap swivel head (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/822708-REG/Oben_VH_R2_VH_R2_Swivel_Tilt_Head.html) that moves up and down only. I move side-to-side by pivoting the monopod on its foot. I attach the plate to the tripod ring on my long lens and it is pretty well balanced. I will probably switch back soon to a carbon fiber monopod, a replacement for one that I broke a couple of years ago when I fell on it with my full body weight when it was fully extended (I slid down a muddy river bank and was trying to stay out of the water–I sacrificed my monopod, but managed to stay dry).

    1. Sounds much the same as my setup. And the Sigma fits the same as your Tamron. As for the Ballhead, I canโ€™t remember the last time I used the up and down. When living in Connecticut we would only purchase gear through the local camera store, support the little guy was a good thing, especially when needed for a return. Anyway, the Ballhead was one of a few options. Turns out I really like it. My Tripod has one also, but way too many options for a quick shoot Monopod.

    2. I too find a ballhead has too many options for the monopod, but I definitely use one with a tripod when I am likely to be shooting a little more deliberately. as for the up and down, I definitely tilt up when I am watching an eagle perched way up high. It lets me maintain my view without wearing out my arm from holding a long lens in a tilted position.

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