Wanting a new monopod under $100

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by steven_pink, Nov 8, 2014.

  1. I'm into sports and portrait photography and I really need a solid monopod that can hold decently heavy glass without slipping (collapsing down). I have an older cheap monopod that I use sometimes, but even semi-heavy lenses like a 70-200mm f/2.8 and my D7000+Battery grip are too much weight for it. My biggest request aside from weight load is height... I'm 6' 4" and my 62" monopod gives me a back ache when I lean over using it all day. So, to summarize, I want a monopod that can hold a decent amount of weight, is semi-tall, and costs under $100. I don't need anything fancy like carbon fiber or a head.
    Thanks!
     
  2. Try these -
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/687350-REG/Oben_ACM_2400_ACM_2400_4_Section_Aluminum_Monopod.html
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/5480-REG/Manfrotto_681B_681B_3_Section_Monopod.html
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/743968-REG/Benro_A49F_A49F_Classic_Aluminum_Monopod.html
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/373785-REG/Giottos_MM9180_MM9180_5_Section_Pro_Monopod.html
     
  3. I really like the Giottos you recommended for the
    height. I'd looked at it earlier today. Do you have
    personal experience with any of them?
     
  4. I have not used the Giotto or Benbo, but know of folks who do and they are pleased with them. Buying a monopod is not as difficult as buying a lens or a body. If the legs will hold the weight you plan on mounting without collapsing and if the extended and folded size and the weight works for you, there is not a whole lot else to worry about. It's not like a monopod has an onboard computer or glass optical parts and such. It is a stick and if the stick is stable, able to support the weight and sized right, what else is there?
    I prefer twist leg locks (they do not need tightening which is occasionally necessary with lever locks) and prefer carbon fiber because it is lighter. But those features will bump up the price and are not critical. If you are a hobbyist or photo enthusiast, then the loosening of flip locks is not that big a deal. But if you shoot sideline sports, you need to know that when you tighten a leg lock, it will stay tight.
    I also prefer fewer leg sections for ease in setting up and closing down and the thicker diameter bottom section (for more stability), but fewer leg sections often translate into longer folded length and lower section diameter is less a problem with a monopod than with a tripod.
     
  5. I really like this Giottos, but price is a lot lower than similar monopods. It seems that Giottos is a decent brand, but is $55 for a 70" 15kg tripod too good to be true?
     
  6. No, I think it's pretty good price. Note that it does mass out at 640g.
    I personally use a similar (Manfrotto clone, actually) monopod together with a Manfrotto 222 head which gives even more height and great flexibility in 'aiming,' etc.
    00cwRA-552367084.jpg
     
  7. How much did your monopod+head cost?
     
  8. I have a Benro that is a carbon fiber model very similar to the aluminum one that Eric links to. The model I have has been discontinued, but it's about 5 inches taller than the one you are using and with a ball head is tall enough for me and I'm a little taller than you. I don't mind the flip locks and have not had an issue with them slipping, but I don't use a monopod that often and then only with 80-400 or 70-200 lenses. I like the foam padding on the top tube as well as the placement of the wrist strap. Also agree with Eric about the desirability of fewer sections, but I ended up compromising on that so that it would attach to packs without sticking out and catching on branches while hiking...
     
  9. I like my headless Velbon with retractable spike. It has served me well so far. No idea
    about weight. I use lighter cameras and cheap thin prime lenses.
     
  10. The tripod head you use can be a factor in achieving the height you want, as has already been stated, but there are trap doors that may or may not affect you. The Manfrotto 222 pistol grip head will add the height you'd like, but not if you want to quickly switch to a portrait orientation. Laying the head over on its side to reorient the camera quickly forfeits the height. You can also achieve the change in orientation by rotating the camera and lens in the lens collar, but that isn't likely to be as quick as flopping the head over, and that may be meaningful at a sporting event. Only you can decide if that aspect is important to you.
    The model 222 head also shows another vulnerability that may be an issue - it is for me. When I got to shooting with long lenses, I was disappointed with the sharpness I was getting. I ran tests where I shot "hands off" using the ML-L3 remote and STILL got soft images. Before I threw away the lenses, a helpful young man in a local camera store asked me what tripod head I used. I pointed to the model in their inventory, a Manfrotto that uses the same plate that the 222 uses - Manfrotto has a number of heads that use that same quick release plate.
    The problem is that the smallish plate, about 1.5" square, allows some fore-aft flexing when a particularly long lens is being held. On his recommendation, I bought one that uses a 1.75X3.5" plate, and the sharpness problem went away. Bear in mind that a significant part of my problem comes from old arthritic hands that really can't hand-hold a shot with any camera/lens combination. The inadequacy of the smaller release plate could be partially due to my bad hands, and may not be an issue for you at all.
    One other caution - do a little online research on the Manfrotto pistol grips - mine failed after about 2 years by not holding the weight any longer, and I've read of others with the same experience. I read that the drooping could be solved with a tension adjustment on the head, but that did not work for mine.
     
  11. The problem is that the smallish plate, about 1.5" square, allows some fore-aft flexing when a particularly long lens is being held.
    One other caution - do a little online research on the Manfrotto pistol grips - mine failed after about 2 years by not holding the weight any longer, and I've read of others with the same experience. I read that the drooping could be solved with a tension adjustment on the head, but that did not work for mine.​
    Thank you for pointing that out. I would much rather have a tall monopod with no head than a short one with a head that could cause instability and possibly fail down the road. I feel that for my price range, just a monopod would be the best option and possibly save some money in the process. As far as portrait orientation goes, I typically end up using the lens collar or just hand holding if I need to switch back and forth rapidly, so the head isn't a major selling feature for me.
     
  12. I have never seen any evidence for any flexing in the 222 head. In any case, there are other ball heads with one or another kind of pistol grips. If you are using genuinely heavy lenses, pistol grips are probably not the way to go in any case. With a 70" monopod the loss of height when you flip the 222 head sideways is not a serious problem. How does 'flexing' come into MONOpod use anyhow, though I've seen no sign of it on tripods either.

    When you are getting into the heavy duty territory, you probably ought to be using a tripod and gimbal head anyhow.
    In short, if used with appropriate cameras and lenses, a monopod and a 222 or other head is not something you need to worry about 'failing'. Unless you believe everything you 'read' anyway or are told by a dealer selling you something, that is.
     
  13. I really don't need a head. I don't necessarily want
    the extra cost or the added features. I'm willing to
    shove a screw in a stick if all else fails. As long as it
    can hold my camera+lens and it's tall, I'm happy.
     
  14. "I'm willing to shove a screw in a stick if all else fails."​
    Here are the factors I considered when I needed a monopod:
    Weight (heavy vs. light)
    Material (aluminum vs. carbon fiber)
    Rigidity (does not bend)
    Durability
    Intended use
    ·for light-weight compact cameras
    ·for heavy-weight cameras
    Tubular leg design vs. Channel leg design
    Leg locks
    ·twist locks
    ·clamping lever locks
    ·wing nuts
    Number of leg sections (no more than three)
    Height (at least 5 1/2 feet for my height)
    Compactness (collapses to smaller size)
    Head
    ·fixed
    ·removable
    ·none
    Feet
    ·fixed non-slip rubber
    ·fixed spike feet
    ·retractable spike feet
    ·suction cups
    ·snow feet
    Screw
    ·3/8 inch (European Standard)
    ·¼ inch (American Standard)
    Quick Release Feature
    Price
    Reputation of Manufacturer (I avoided manufacturers with no history of producing high quality tripods)
    Maximum load (I wanted 2x weight of my heaviest camera)

    I ended up buying two monopods – one for my heavy cameras and one for my lightweight compact cameras.
    My heaviest lens/camera combination weighs about 10 pounds (500mm f/4 telephoto lens mounted on a Nikon F2 with action finder, motor drive, and battery pack). The Manfrotto 681, with a maximum load rating of 26 pounds, and an attached Wimberley Arca-Swiss quick release clamp is what I bought to meet my needs.
    For my compact cameras, I selected a lightweight inexpensive 7-pound maximum load monopod with an attached quick release tilt head.

    I could have used my Manfrotto for my compact cameras but I needed a lightweight disposable monopod to use with my lightweight disposable compacts.
    Also, when I need a longer monopod for pole aerial photography, I stuck a screw in an 8-foot pole and a 12-foot pole.
    https://flic.kr/p/nmicju
    00cwds-552404684.jpg
     
  15. Thanks a lot for this thread so far! - Clamping lever locks can be indeed a bad idea: I just noticed that the smallest of my by now 15year old Soligor monopod burst, probably due to aging of the plastic. - Maybe I can fix it with a hose clamp, but still annoying.
    I don't like twist locks handling wise so far, but it seems they are the better bet in the long run.
     
  16. I ended up buying the Giottos 3290B from B&H today for the height and weight capabilities. What would be my best option for a cheap head? (Under $40)
     
  17. I have personally never understood the need for a head on a monopod. If you are using the 70-200 with a collar, you go horiz to vert easily. If you mount a non collared lens, it is easy to simply move the stick left/right/up/down for most applications. But I imagine that if you are using the gear to shoot a bird up in a tree, a front back tilt may be useful.
    If you do decide that you need a head, the best one I know of is http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?N=10554098&InitialSearch=yes&sts=pi
    It is front/back only.
    If your budget is only $40 and decide you need a full function ballhead, then I am not sure you will find a suitable ballhead that will support much weight.
    Good luck
     
  18. I've used Giottos 9180 and it served me well...and as Eric indicated, I also have the Manfrotto 234 RC head on it. It allows the camera to be used primarily in "landscape" config and if you flip it to the side, you'll be able to use it in "portrait" config. However, the quick release will likely have to be re-tighten.
    Les
     

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