- What Is a Monopod?
- Camera Monopod Sizes
- Camera Monopod Sturdiness
- Camera Monopod Heads
- Camera Monopod Adjustments
- Camera Monopod Extras
- Other Recommended Photography Gear
- Tripod Head Buyer’s Guide: Which Type Is Best for Your Needs?
- Monopod Vs Tripod: Which Is Best for You?
- Carbon Fiber Tripod Vs Aluminum: Which Is Best?
For stability while being on the move, few accessories beat a good camera monopod. A camera monopod is basically a one-legged tripod. There’s more to it than that, but it’s a good place to start off.
I’ll answer the question of what is a monopod and also what features a monopod for camera use should have. I’ll be illustrating the points with examples from the Vanguard lineup of camera monopods.
Table of Contents:
What Is a Monopod?
Let’s look at the first question concerning a camera monopod, namely, what IS a monopod?
We’re familiar with camera tripods, a camera stabilizing platform with three telescoping legs. A camera monopod is the same in principle, a camera stabilizing device. What sets a camera monopod apart from a tripod is that there is only one leg. Mono = one, pod = foot; monopod.
With that simple of an explanation, a big stick would fit the description. But we also expect some ease of use and some photographic-specific features in a camera monopod. Let’s look at 5 points or features of a high-quality camera monopod.
Camera Monopod Sizes
What size should a high-quality camera monopod be? A camera monopod should be big enough to hold a camera and lens comfortably and at the height necessary for the shot and yet also be small and light enough to make movement with that rig simple and not cumbersome.
It also helps for a camera monopod to be collapsible to a smaller size for ease of storage and transport. An extendable column is the solution. Instead of being a big stick, a camera monopod is actually an adjustable tool for photography.
As an example, the Vanguard VEO 2S CM-264TBP 120T Monopod With Ball/Pan Head extends all the way up to 68” and collapses to a compact 24.4” for storage and travel. It’s a heavy-duty carbon fiber camera monopod that is extremely durable and yet still lightweight.
Have a look at some of the advantages of this camera monopod with a video from the
Vanguard YouTube channel:
The leg of this camera monopod is 26mm thick and very rugged, but the carbon fiber construction means that it only weighs about 3 lbs with the large VEO BP-120T ball/pan head.
Camera Monopod Sturdiness
Part of what makes a camera monopod sturdy is how thick the leg is but also how securely the sections lock into place. Knurled knobs are a good way to adjust the size of the camera monopod up and down and also have the sturdiness wanted.
You really don’t want to flex in the leg of your camera monopod while it’s holding your long lens, but you want it to stay put as soon as you stop moving around and plant it in one spot.
Camera Monopod Heads
Many camera monopods come with a basic ball head that can be used as-is, or you can switch it out with another type of head. A videographer may want to have a fluid head, or a sports photographer or wildlife photographer may want a quick-adjust pistol grip head.
Here is a look at a heavy-duty and very rapidly adjusting pistol grip head from the Vanguard YouTube channel:
VEO BP-120T ball/pan head is an interesting tool. It combines the versatility of a ball and socket head with the smooth control of a pan head. Used with a large carbon fiber camera monopod leg unit, this becomes a super heavy-duty rig for large camera and lens combinations or a high-end video camera.
Vanguard VEO 2S AM-264TR Monopod is the leg unit pictured earlier but with a simple smartphone holder. It also comes with a Bluetooth remote that works with either an Android or iPhone smartphone camera app.
Camera Monopod Adjustments
It may seem like there's not too much needing to be adjusted with a camera monopod, but what does move needs to do so as smoothly as possible. And then it all needs to lock down as strongly as possible.
That includes the ball head or other type of head used. The pistol grip or fluid head controls add an extra element of smooth control for those situations where that’s needed.
Camera Monopod Extras
A wide foot is one of the most useful camera monopod accessories. It lets you set up a camera monopod in a way that is similar to a tripod but with a smaller footprint. That foot also lets you get some extra stability for the situations in which you wanted a camera monopod in the first place.
Stability and being on the move - these are the reasons why we want a camera monopod. Making sure it’s both sturdy enough and has ease-of-use features or quick-to-adjust controls means we will get the most out of this fantastic accessory.