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Old Jun 17, 2003, 10:57 PM   #1
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Default tripod vs monopod advice

Iím caught between choices here. At first I was leaning towards a monopod because I didnít think Iíd bring a tripod along (weight, inconvenience.) Now that Iíve been using the camera for awhile Iím dissatisfied with the sharpness of the picturesÖ and everything I read about long lens technique says to use a tripod. So Iím looking for guidance.

I do photography two different ways.
1) I hike a fair amount. This is more for exercise and the fun of getting out that it is for photographic opportunities. This could lead to macro photography, but I currently donít have the ability to do that (yetÖ Iíll get tubes soon.) I would take some bird pictures, but it can be really dark where I hike (under trees) that can make my 100-400 f4.5-f5.6 too slow. Iíll also do more normal ďthat fell tree is cool!Ē stuff.
2) Go out specifically to take pictures. In these situations I mostly take birds and wildlife. Either shore birds or field/tree birds. Anything from herons & sandpipers to hawks and blue birds. Some hiking could be involved, but rarely over a mile.

Now there is nothing stopping me from buying both (except cost.) I realize that. But good tripods (and ball heads) are expensive!

#1 is the situation where the monopod seems more logical, except for the macro work. Iíll be doing more hiking so the weight and convenience seems more important than perfectly sharp pictures. Maybe there are tripods where the weight and carrying-clumsiness arenít issues?

#2 is just begging for a tripod. A monopod would work, but when Iím waiting for the heron to strike for 10 minutesÖ Iíd rather have it all set up on a tripod and I just have to stand and wait (or use a wireless shutter release and sit in a chair!)

Do they make small and light enough full sized tripods that the weight wouldnít be a problem? Iíd just strap it to my back (or camera bag) and I wouldnít notice it?

If I got a monopod, I would do it with the full belief that Iíd get a tripod at some time. With this thinking, I was considering getting a ball head that I could then swap between it and the tripod. This way I could afford something better and still save some money. Is this reasonable?


I have some specific tripod & quick release questions, but Iíll leave them for other posts.

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Old Jun 18, 2003, 5:39 AM   #2
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I have both.

When you carry one... you wished you took the other with you! :lol: :lol: :lol:
(I guess it all depends on how mobile your mood is that day)
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Old Jul 2, 2003, 11:05 AM   #3
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Default Get a tripod

Gitzo carbon fiber, Acratech QR ball head (light) or Kirk light unit. Get quick release plates.

Get tripod that folds down to around 22". Mount to side of backpack.

The monopod is better than nothing, but is far less capable than a good tripod. Save the tripod for places that won't allow tripods (use mono as walking cane 'til you need it) or rough terrain where it will be impossible to setup a tripod without a struggle.
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Old Jul 2, 2003, 9:51 PM   #4
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I'm thinking of:

The Bogen/Manfrotto 441 (Carbon 1) in Carbon Fiber.
I tried the aluminum and it wasn't steady enough. Maybe the CF one is?

Gitzo g2227 "explorer"
its friction system on the legs is a bit scary. But its light and stiff (I'm told.) My best rig I can imagine is almost to heavy for this setup.

Gitzo G1227 Mountaineer Reporter Carbon Fiber
Really expensive. Don't know anyone who has it. Supposed to be very nice from all I've read.

I assume you are suggesting the "Ultimate Ballhead" Acratech makes? Have you used it? I've heard mixed things about it. People seem to like its weight, but the limitation of only going slighty over 90% in on direction (in trade for much further in the other) can be really annoying. Is this your experience?

I assume the kirk you're thinking of is the BH-1? For $50 more I can get a Arca-Swiss B1 which has the automatic tension system. Do you feel the BH-1 is better? Or do you suggest it because its light?

I will definitly get QR plates. That isn't an option.

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Old Jul 3, 2003, 2:01 AM   #5
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Default Bean bag alternative

For the hiking requirement, you could consider buying or making a small 'bean bag' of polystyrene beads. Piled up on rucksack and other available rocks, logs, etc., this will be more stable than a monopod.
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Old Jul 7, 2003, 10:20 AM   #6
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on a monopod i do not use a ball head. instead i use this setup referened out from the Really Right Stuff catalog www.reallyrightstuff.com http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/projects/index.html
works very well

i use a AS B1 with a manfrotto 3021pro and on a gitzo G2228 explorer i use the Ulti Ball head in that combo for weight. with both you have to remember to thighten the ball down or Ooops "over the center nose drop". the one really neat thing that is available from Kirk for th B1 and their clone the BH1 is the: http://www.kirkphoto.com/ballheads.html#snapcollar
a precision machined polymer lens/body anti smash temporary locking mechanism thing. slide it in slide it out.
that is worth its weight in solid gold if you move you tripod around a lot with lens/camera attached. especially the "over the shoulder rapid move everything manouver"
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Old Jul 7, 2003, 12:13 PM   #7
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I should have said save the monopod for places that don't allow tripods.

I've bought stuff from Kirk, Really Right Stuff, and Acratech. I never purchased the Arca Swiss. The quality from any of these folks and the service have been outstanding. I can't say any one is better, although I like the B-1 better than the Acratech. I've pinched a few fingers between the Acratech knobs. Some more knowledgable pros I know think its great, so it must be just me. I just like the B1 better.

No ball head on a monopod as sjms.

I had a Bogen CF. It didn't make it through my first desert trek. All sorts of problems. I was not a happy camper.

The 1228 is the choice for me. Decent height sans center column. Folds down to 21.3" which is very important when packing or carrying. The 1227 is the 3 section version.

The 2227 gets you more height 56" vs. 52", but it's 3 section and doesn't fold up as small. Never found a reason to tilt the center column, but I've got a copy stand, too.
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Old Jul 7, 2003, 4:27 PM   #8
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Thanks for the more info. I had read about the snapcollar. I made perfect sense the instant I saw it. That is on my list of things to get.

Isn't the 3021pro a video tripod? How does it work with a still camera? (Not that they are incompatable, but still....)

I have been considering the G2227/2228 (or G1227/1228), so it's good to know you use the 2228 (as I assume like it, or you wouldn't be using it!)

I've heard good things about a BH1 or B1 and a Wimberley sidekick on a monopod. Never tried a sidekick, but I have a feeling that one is in my future for the longer glass I'll probably get.

The problem I have with the 2227/8 is that it only supports 13lb. That is less than I expect to put on it, if/when I get a 500mm, and it's only 3lb more than my expected setup with the 100-400L that I already have. That seems a bit close to the edge to me. But if I want to jump up in weight, I have to get to G1325 or G1329, which are really expensive.


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Old Jul 7, 2003, 4:52 PM   #9
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Oops. Error in my notes:

G2227 & G2228 can take 13.2lb @ $454.
G1227 & G1228 can take 17.6lb @ $436.
G1325 & G1329 can take 26.5lb @ $507 & no column.

(prices for first model listed, the other will be higher.)

So I could go with the 1227 or 1228 and get a good cusion on the max weight without having to go up to the really big bucks.

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