monopod VS tripod

Photo of boxing gloves: Buy a Tripod or a MonopodMonopod or Tripod

HOW TO CHOOSE-WHICH ONE SHOULD YOU BUY?
THE EPIC BATTLE OF THE MONOPOD AND TRIPOD

Monopod Vs Tripod Battle - photograph

Monopod vs Tripod. It's an epic battle similar to the Canon Vs Nikon battle that my photography buddy and I always have a lot of fun with. This article will help you choose. You're going to get some tripods and monopod advice based on my experiences with them over the past 45 years (I currently own 2 monopods and 5 tripods).

You can do cost and weight comparisons of monopods and tripods. You can look at their portability, stability, versatility and basic functioning. And don't forget to compare the heads that come with them too. That greatly affects their usefulness and  price.

Then there is always the brand favorite. Many people, including digital photographers, tend to look at the brands of products that their friends tell them about. It is definitely a subjective topic just like your favorite brand of shampoo or toothpaste.

Blue question mark

If you are like most people you'd like to buy a monopod or tripod brand that you've heard of. When deciding on automobiles, some guys will never want anything but a Chevy while their neighbor will swear by Ford.

Gitzo and Manfrotto monopods and tripods speak of quality just because of the name and if you mention Vivitar or Fotomate your talking about economy buying. There are many manufacturers of monopods and tripods and some are more known for their monopods and some are famous for their tripods.


It is real easy to get caught up in the monopod Vs tripod argument and justify which one of these accessories you've used. We all want to feel justified that what we bought was the right choice.

I suggest to you that the single most important thing to do first is to consider what kind of photography or video will you be doing. Based on the photography I do personally, I use a tripod about 95% of the time. There are a few certain situations where a monopod is the far better choice for me.


consider a tripod-monopod combination


Your tripod-monopod using percentage will be quite different than mine. You may really like both a tripod and a monopod at your disposal.

Evaluating both monopods and tripods should start with getting a clear understanding of what features and options are available and useful for your photography.

Here is an article about the benefits and 3 different options for getting both at the same time: Monopod/Tripod Combo.

Highly Rated Combo

WHAT KIND OF PHOTOGRAPHY DO YOU DO?

Here are some categories of photography and what to consider with each when you play the monopod vs tripod game in your head.

Wildlife photography. It's easy to pick up and move quickly to capture the sudden appearance of an animal to photograph if you are using a monopod.


tripod or Monopod for wildlife photographers

Wildlife photographers use heavy, long lenses to photograph distant subjects and monopods weigh substantially less that tripods.

Monopods are easier to carry when you're hiking distances over rough terrain. Monopods are essential when your target is fast moving.

Wildlife photography and the Tripod vs Monopod Issue

If you are using an extremely long lens and are photographing a stationary subject then a tripod is much better.


Tripod or Monopod For landscape photography

Here the tripod wins the battle. You want to have deep depth of field. That means a small lens opening and likely longer shutter speeds to get the best exposure. Great landscape photos are often taken before sunrise or after sunset when light levels are low. That's another situation where you're going to have the shutter open longer for the right exposure.

The question arises - the monopod vs tripod battle with Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is also about careful composition and framing things in your camera just right. It's helpful to have your camera in a set position so that you can make small adjustments in angles, zoom setting and height.


sports photography

The next time you are watching a professional sporting event on television or live, notice what the professional photographers are using.

How many tripods do you see? That would be zero.

They're all using monopods. You need to be able to support a long heavy lens. 

Even if you're not a pro sports photographer, monopods are quicker to adjust position at your son or daughters soccer or baseball game.

The tripod legs would interfere with other photographers. You can't move your camera fast enough to follow the high-speed movement of sports when your camera is mounted to a tripod. Monopods are better than tripods for shooting sports.

The Monopod Vs Tripod battle goes with youth sports photography too

tripod or monopod for shooting video

What if you want to shoot video of your child? With video the type of video you are shooting is really the determining factor of whether you should use a monopod or tripod. If your subject is remaining stationary you really want to take advantage of the stability that a tripod will give you. Is there anything more annoying than watching a shaky, bouncing video.



The monopod is one of the most simple and under-utilized pieces of photography equipment that a parent can use at their child's sporting event to improve their sports photography and video.



On the flip side of that, look at the television cameramen. How many of them are using a monopod? None. Their video cameras are extremely big and heavy and they are staying stationary.

No shot of that happening. They either have a heavy duty tripod with sophisticated fluid movement capabilities, or they are a mobile videographer with the video camera on their shoulder.

Monopods really are a better choice than tripods when it comes to taking shots of moving objects like bike racers or flying birds or airplanes. Some action photographers would argue that hand held is the only way to go for certain situations.


Use a monopod for Parade, concert, museum and arboretum photography

When you are in a really crowded spot among other people, using a tripod is being a space hog, inconsiderate and perhaps even not permitted. Sometimes only a monopod is a possibility.

Monopods are extremely useful for shooting video of your child at their concert or play while sitting in your seat.


use a tripod for macro photography

For anyone who has done even a little bit of macro photography, you know the monopod vs tripod battle is a lopsided victory for the tripod.

For several reasons a monopod is completely inadequate for close-up photography.

Precise composition and focusing constraints require a stationary positioning of your camera that only a tripod can give you.

Some photographers will avoid the monopod-tripod choice by using electronic flash as part of their Macro Photography Equipment. Hand held macro photography is then possible because you stop any motion blur with such a quick exposure and can get great depth of field with a small aperture.


use a tripod for portraits

For the majority of portrait photographers a tripod is the right choice.

It is always preferred to have the ability to have direct eye contact with your portrait subjects.

You can compose your photo in the viewfinder , and then watch your subjects as you make the exposure.

It is also advantageous to be able make an adjustment in your specific posing or lighting of your subject without re-positioning your camera.


I do occasionally use a monopod when shooting individual portraits when I am low light situations. Motion blur is magnified when you use  longer lens settings. I need a little help with stabilizing a long, heavier lens like a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.


Nighttime photography

When you are doing some night time photography with sharp subjects combined with motion blur, the tripod scores an easy victory over the monopod. Tripods are victorious in the monopod vs tripod battle in night time photography.

Photography of the stars often involve exposure times of 30 second or more. 

Exposures of 1/15 of a second or longer clearly need the stability of the tripod to get a good nighttime photograph.


the monopod vs tripod comparison continues

Comparison of Folded Tripod and Folded Monopod

When looking at the size comparison of a folded monopod vs a folded tripod, it becomes obvious that the monopod will weigh less than a third of the tripod.

The monopod can also double as a support pole if you enjoy hiking or backpacking. There are many techniques to get your monopod to act like a tripod as well: How to use a monopod.


Extreme angle photography and videography. Another victory for the tripod in the monopod vs tripod battle for supremacy! Sometimes you may want to shoot: 

  1. downward at your subject from a high angle or 
  2. from ground level or perhaps 
  3. get your camera closer to your subject when you can't get yourself closer.


The following video shows a couple of creative and fun uses where the monopod is better suited for use with still photography or videography.

(A very young videographer gives you some fun ideas for using a monopod.)


In the end, it is the type of photography that is paramount in solving the monopod vs tripod dilemma. Carefully think it out. You really may want to have both a monopod and tripod available to do a variety of photography.

Another alternative is the video monopod. Does such a thing exist? The answer might surprise you in this article: Video monopod.

A great way to learn more about the features and options of monopods and tripods is to read the opinions of people who have already purchased them. 

There are many sources of information about tripod and monopods.  One of the sources I rely on to get monopod and tripod reviews is to read them on Amazon


Happy monopod or tripod hunting!
Bruce

Back to Monopod Reviews

Using a Monopod For Video

Best Tripods under $50, $100, And $200

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