The Single-Legged Support: Monopods

Photographers across the World agree that a tripod is a very important accessory and they heavily rely on it to get those great shots. But there are certain places or situations when using a tripod can be more of a problem than help. It is in such conditions where a monopod comes in handy. 

What are monopods? A monopod can be simply considered as a tripod with one leg (and that is why it is called a ‘monopod’). They are also known as “Unipods”. It is a long metallic stick that which can collapse to a smaller size, and allows you to attach your camera on the top. The basic function of a monopod is to provide vertical support to the camera. They are light, sturdy, and portable. Monopods are somewhat underrated, but can be immensely useful in special circumstances. People think of a monopod as a single-legged alternative to a tripod, but it is actually very special equipment that is useful in situations where a tripod is not. A tripod and monopod are very different pieces of equipment (even though they may seem very similar), and one cannot be substituted for the other. The use of a monopod depends on the type of photograph a person wants to take.

When to use Monopods? Monopods are useful when a photographer wants some extra stability, but also wants the freedom of movement and flexibility that is not possible with a tripod.

Some Advantages of Monopods

A monopod provides stability to your camera while keeping it easily portable. This quality makes it ideal for certain fields such as wildlife or sports photography, where you need the extra stability but also need to keep moving continuously.

  • They are very helpful when you are shooting with long heavy lenses. Not only do they provide the stability that cannot be achieved with a handheld camera, but can also take the weight off your arms while you wait for a shot.
  • They are very useful in crowded conditions, such as a sporting event, as they take up very less space and time to set up. Also they fold up very small and let you quickly follow your subject.
  • These are very useful when shooting video as well. They eliminate the shake you would get when holding the camera in your hands, and also allows you to move it while maintaining
  • Compared to tripods they are very light and highly portable. It is one single pole that can be retracted when not in use and easily stowed away. They are ideal for hikers, and can also double up as a walking stick.
  • They are quick to set up. All you have to do is extend the pole, attach the camera using a quick release plate, and you are ready to shoot.
  • You can use a monopod to lift up your camera and take images or video from various angles that would not be possible by hand.

Some Disadvantages of Monopods

  • The major disadvantage of a monopod is that it is not a tripod. It cannot provide very high stability to the camera, and cannot be used for long exposure shots. Some amount of shake will enter in your videos, and images when using slow shutter speeds.
  • You cannot shoot in the portrait mode unless you are using a rotating head or a lens mount.
  • It is able to provide only vertical stability, but your camera is free to move horizontally. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage.
  • You have to keep holding your camera all the time. If your mind drifts off somewhere else and you let go, well goodbye camera.

A monopod provides support needed for heavy lenses, slower shutter speeds and action photography, combined with the flexibility of movement that is not possible with a regular tripod. They are highly portable, easy to set up and can be easily used in tight spaces. All these qualities make a monopod a great accessory for on-the-go photography. If you frequently find yourself in situations where a tripod just doesn’t cut it, a monopod can be a great addition to your kit. Monopods come in various types, sizes, and prices so you should be able to find just the right one for yourself.