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Photo by Nathanael Deck on Unsplash
I have a lot of photography friends who wrongly assume that they don’t really need a monopod because they have a tripod and, “Don’t they do the same thing?”
While it’s true that both monopods and tripods are used to stabilize your camera, there’s a reason sports photographers use monopods while other photographers use tripods. Monopods are lighter and they take up less room (room that needs to be dedicated to other photographers in a stadium, for instance).
Monopods also still fulfill the needs that a tripod does, too. For example, they enable you to not grow ridiculously sore after a few hours of shooting because they provide the stability for your shot rather than you.
Besides, monopods tend to be smaller and lighter weight than their tripod cousins, so if you’re looking to run and gun and need to cut the weight of your gear, a monopod is a great option.
Features to Look For
Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash
So, now that you’re convinced you need to buy a monopod, what monopod features should you be searching for?
Firstly, your monopod should have the largest maximum load rating possible. Just because you are currently shooting with a tiny mirrorless camera and a kit lens doesn’t mean you won’t need to shoot with a pro-spec DSLR with a massive lens down the line.
This isn’t to say that you need to spend money on a pro-grade monopod if you’re never going to be a professional photographer. But, if you have designs on improving your photography, investing in gear that can grow with you over the years is the obvious choice.
photo by selimaksan via iStock
Another feature my favorite monopod buyers guide talks a lot about is the monopod’ feet. Tripods are so stable because they have three legs, but that doesn’t mean your monopod can’t be stable. If you opt for a monopod with feet you’ll be able to have a lot more stability for your shooting.
Finally, make sure your monopod is made of carbon fiber or aluminum. Both of these materials are strong, light and can handle being in inclement weather. If you’re searching for the lightest monopod available, opt for carbon fiber.
For the purposes of this monopod buyers guide, we opted to use Ikan products because their monopods are known for quality, functionality, and versatility while being cheap enough for photographers (spending $500 on a monopod is ridiculous for your average photographer!).
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E-Image 4 Stage Aluminum Monopod (Budget Option):
If you’re new to the monopod game, then this beginners’ model would be perfect for you. It’s made of aluminum and weighs just 3 lbs on its own so you’ll never get tired of taking it everywhere with you.
It can support up to 44.1 lbs of equipment, which I doubt you’ll ever fully use, and adjusts between 25.2” and 74.8”.
The best part of this budget monopod is that you can purchase it for just $100.
E-Image 4 Stage Aluminum Monopod With Fluid Head (Mid-Range Option):
This 4 stage aluminum monopod is (obviously) made of aluminum, so it’s going to be a little bit heavier than a professional-grade model at 6.2 lbs.
It can hold a maximum of 8.8 lbs of equipment and can be adjusted from 31.5” to 82.7”, which is plenty of adjustment for even the tallest photographer.
What I really love about this monopod, though, is that it features 3 retractable feet for maximum stability when you need it, basically removing any reason for you to own both a tripod and monopod.
If you’re looking for a monopod that you can grow into as a photographer, then this 4 stage monopod is a great option for you at $160.
E-Image 4 Stage Hands-Free Carbon Fiber Monopod With Fluid Head (Pro Option):
If you need a monopod with just a little more oomph, then Ikan’s 4 stage carbon fiber monopod is a great option.
It weighs just 4.9 lbs, which is a lot lighter than many other professional monopod models, while still being able to support up to 6.6 lbs. You can adjust its height from 32.5” to 73.6”.
It’s fluid head has a tilt range of -40 degrees to 80 degrees and allows you to swivel a full 360 degrees for incredible video.
As a bonus, this monopod features a foot lock so you don’t need to be worried about any equipment safety problems while shooting.
The E-Image 4 Stage Hands-Free Carbon Fiber Monopod is available for $220.