Tripod vs Monopod. The choice is not so clear any more.
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Thread: Tripod vs Monopod. The choice is not so clear any more.

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  1. Tripod vs Monopod. The choice is not so clear any more.

    #1
    Users Country Flag
    Join Date: Sep 2009
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    Posts: 367

    Those of you who know me and my panoramas know that I have used a monopod exclusively for shooting travel panos since around 2008. That is about to change.
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    Back in 2009 when my family and I went to Europe for three weeks I wanted to be able to do panoramas. At that time the only viable solution for shooting panoramas "on the run" was to use a monopod. Tripods were just too heavy and bulky.
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    At the end of March my wife and I will be spending two weeks hiking the jungles of Kauai. Once again, I will be shooting panoramas.
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    The pano head is a NN R10 @ 5 degrees up tilt. The camera is a Sony A7 attached to a Metabones adapter with a rail that has an adjustable stop and a Tokina 10-17 lens. I have a mini 4 position rotator on order. That will replace the current very heavy rotator pictured below. It is too much of a hassle to remove the rotator when switching between the tripod and monopod.
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    Since 2009 technology has progressed. I now have two options for camera support when shooting travel panos:
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    Monopod:
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    This is a modified Manfrotto carbon monopod. The foot is off of a video monopod. The aluminum clamp is an adjustable bubble level. This model monopod does not suffer from bowing when you extend it. It extends in exactly the same position every time. This is critical for maintaining "the point". The adjustable bubble level aids in maintaining "the point". Believe it or not, you do need to calibrate your monopod. More on that in a separate posting.
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    Travel travel tripod:
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    This is a flyweight Induro CT014 carbon tripod. I chose this particular tripod line because the twist grips need only 1/2 turn to open and close. All the other tripods I looked at required multiple turns to open and close the clamps or were way too flimsy when extended.
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    The weight difference is only 62 grams between the two. Both rigs will go to Hawaii.
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    The choice is not so clear any more. I think the tripod wins since image quality is most important. The images you create last far beyond the useful life of your camera.
  2. #2
    Users Country Flag
    Join Date: Dec 2009
    Location: St. Petersburg, FL
    Posts: 7

    The tripod wins every time for panoramas. Monopods (poles) are OK for high angles of view, but a tripod is easier to level, which is important to panos. Although I don't like using center columns, for panos, I use the center column so I can get more of the tripod out of the shots. I DO use a monopod (for birds and wildlife), and a pole for high panos (10-15 feet).
    Last edited by sdphoto; 03-15-2015 at 07:40 PM.
  3. #3
    Users Country Flag
    Join Date: Sep 2009
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    Posts: 367

    In case I was not clear, my comments are in regards to traveling/hiking/bicycling with pano gear. I tried hiking up Half Dome with a standard tripod back in 2008. After that disaster I developed my monopod system which has served me for many years as my wife and I travel. My last trip to Orlando was shot all on a monopod. With the discovery of the flyweight but yet very stable Induro tripod, I might be using the monopod less and less for travel panoramas. For real estate or anything else you can drive your car to, a tripod of any weight will always be a better solution.
  4. #4
    Users Country Flag
    Join Date: Dec 2009
    Location: St. Petersburg, FL
    Posts: 7

    I see your point on bicycling and hiking. Use what's lighter and easier to carry, as long as it works for what you are doing, but (as you said) use a tripod whenever you can. good luck with your decision and testing.
  5. #5
    Users Country Flag
    Join Date: Sep 2009
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    Posts: 367

    Just got back from the trip. I Can say that the overall experience and workflow is much better using the flyweight tripod instead of a monopod for "run and gun" panos. With advancements in composite materials, the weight difference between my monopod and tripod rigs is negligible at best. No problem at all hiking with the tripod. The only reason to use a monopod is when the place you are visiting does not allow tripods or you really need to watch the grams.
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    Here are the panos from Kauai. http://www.dlsphoto.net/Hawaii2015/Hawaii2015.htm
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    Just wish the sun was out more. Kauai is one of the wettest places on Earth.
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    Another Yosemite run is on the calendar for next month. I will be making tweaks to the system in the interim.

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