Once again I promise that this will be a quick tip. I have to get ready for my Basics of Digital Photography course which begins next week, and I also have a New England Photography Guild blog article due in a couple of days. I'm still waiting for the appearance of the relaxation part of my retirement.
This week, I have a very simple story to tell. Let's see if I can tell it simply.
Monopods Monopods don't have the stability of a tripod, but the theory behind it is sound. A single stick that is easy to carry around and provides substantially better stability than when hand-holding your camera. With my deteriorating left hip a monopod also serves as a secret cane, masquerading as a photo accessory. I have two monopods, the first is of traditional single purpose design intended solely as a camera support and the second is a hiking pole which is
|Hiking Pole Camera Adapter|
A Question of Compatibility
My DSLRs have L-brackets which fit Arca Swiss heads and, unless I go through the major hassle of removing the L- bracket, they don't fit on the standard monopod screw mount. I faced a similar connection incompatibility on my old, heavy, Manfroto tripod and solved the problem by attaching an Arca Swiss adapter to the tripod's proprietary Manfroto head. The result was a chunkier, but more stable tripod that I use most of the time for shots within close proximity to my car. For hikes and travel I still depend on my much lighter Carbon Fiber Gitzo. It's great to have a choice to match all situations.
My "New" $30 Tripod
I used a similar solution for my monopod dilemma. It was easy to screw a simple and cheap Arca Swiss adapter to the stick's screw head and for just $30 I have a monopod that works for my L-bracketed DSLRs. I feel as if I should somehow make this sound more complicated, but the happy fact is that it is just that simple. The mount also allows me to easily shoot in either landscape or portrait orientation. With a standard screw mount the camera is fixed in portrait mode. To make my old monopod work as a serviceable walking stick, I improvised a grip, wrapping the top with tennis racket handle tape. The Arca Swiss adapter makes it a bit a awkward to grab the top of the stick, but otherwise it works well. It is light, easy to carry and fits nicely into most of my camera bags and packs. The adapter is also easy to remove if a camera requires the traditional screw mount.
A problem with monopods is that the camera is rigidly fixed to the pole. When shooting in any direction other than straight ahead the pole must lean forward or back and this can affect stability. One solution is to attach a flexible connection, such as a ball head, to the top of the monopod, but the added weight can adversely affect the balance of the pole and make it difficult to use as a hiking stick. Lighter ball heads are available but they may only be sufficiently sturdy for smaller cameras. By the time you add a heavy head, strong enough for a full size DSLR, you might do as well with a regular tripod. For now I'm happy with my feather lite Arca Swiss Adapter. When I must angle the stick, I can stabilize it against my foot or even slip it into my shoe.
My old monopod had been gathering dust in the back of a closet for years. It's nice when something so simple can bring an old friend back to usefulness. The question is, what took me so long. Now if I can only find a use for all my old film cameras. Door-stop comes to mind.