WRITTEN BY: BRUCE LOVELACE
UPDATED: DECEMBER 5, 2023
Are you searching to find which monopods are the best monopods? You likely know by now that there are too many choices. It may feel similar to the search for a new a car.
You have a ton of variety, with many features and benefits. Then, there's a wide range of price levels to add to the confusion. Camera monopods are like that too. Here are the winners.
The best monopod for you could be the one that just "Feels Just Right." If you have just started to look for your first monopod, this guide will help. If you already have some experience with using a monopod, then you likely already know some of the things you like and don't like about your current monopod.
A good place to start is by knowing some of the various different features that monopods have.
Here is an article on monopods discussing the advantages and disadvantages of specific features: Monopod Reviews.
What features do you need to look at specifically to figure out if a monoid is a good fit for you? Here are the 5 main characteristics you need to consider.
Price is one of the biggest factors people focus on first. News Flash: That's human nature and we're all guilty of doing that. Just don't forget the durability and usability have to be considered too.
The old adage that you get what you pay for is generally true, but it's extremely important to think about two other things as well. Specifically the kind of photography you are doing and the camera-lens combination that you are shooting with are just as important.
If you use your monopod only when you're shooting video your choose for the best monopod will be different than mine. I use my monopod for shooting portraits in low light situations and for shooting wildlife, specifically bird photography.
Prices range from about $350 for a Gitzo 6-section, 6x carbon fiber Traveler Monopod to around $11 for the cheapo, mostly plastic, no-name brands.
These very affordable monopods can often do the job for a point and shoot camera or a compact DSLR camera when it does not have your heaviers long telephoto lens attached.
Usually people who buy these cheaper are not serious photographers and they are not overly surprised when their monopod breaks or becomes worn very quickly. A good monopod for most people is a happy medium somewhere in between. Many of us would like to take a tripod everywhere, but there are many times when it is not practical or even allowed.
At many sporting events, stadiums, race tracks, tennis courts, museums or botanical gardens, tripods are forbidden. Tripods can be annoying and can be hazardous where people may trip and fall.
So finding one of the best monopods is important to your photography when a tripod, for whatever reason, is not going to work. You still need to support your camera, get blurry-free images and save your arm or back muscles.
One of the important, but often overlooked features to compare is the number of leg sections. Higher end monopods typically are manufactured with more leg sections than the cheaper models.
It's great to have the least possible number of sections when you're adjusting the height. More collapsible sections means you can compact it to a smaller length and that allows you to transport it easier. If your collapsed monopod is too long it becomes tougher to carry it around and you'll want to leave it at home.
Monopods vary greatly when it comes to how heavy they are monopods typically weigh between 5 ounces and and 5 lbs. Compared to tripods all monopod are quite light. Generally, the heavier your monopod is, the sturdier it will be. Thicker legs will have more stability, but at the cost of weighing more.
Weight is an important consideration when choosing the best monopod. Sometimes you'll really want to travel lightly. Hiking and backpacking are good examples. If you're carrying everything on your back that you need, you know every single ounce counts.
Compare the weights of different monopods. You will see that there is quite a bit of variation in how much they weigh. Heavy duty monopods can weigh more than lightweight tripods, depending on the material they are made with, as well as what accessories they have.
Height. How high do you need it to go and how small do you want it to collapse? Measure the distance from the ground to the level of your eye. Anything shorter than that is no good. Not only is it difficult to use your monopod if it's too short, but it's bad for your posture and the health of your back.
The type of monopod head has a huge impact on how well it functions for you. Ball heads are clearly the best monopod head to have unless you a significant amount video. Without a head you're limited in angling your camera to shoot at an up or down angle without leaning your monopod to a less stable position.
Right now, at the time of this post update, it's a challenge to find a monopod without feet that does have a simple ball head included. Monopods with feet are a little more geared toward video shooters and usually have a fluid monopod head with long screwdriver type of handles. I've used my Koolehaoda monopod with it's small ballhead plenty of times for still photographs.
There are a few must have features, but can you get best monopod for under 50 dollars! If you're like a lot of other semi-serious photographers you realize the virtues of using a monopod, but wouldn't use one enough to justify spending $400 for a Gitzo. There are simply too many better monopod choices that are under $50.
Weight capacity ratings are practically worthless when doing comparisons. There is no standard way to measure capacity. The capacity number is stated by the company marketing the monopod. Cheap plastic screw mounts are a disaster waiting to happen.
If you go this route, you MUST not over tighten your camera to the mounting bolt. The biggest complaint coming from reviewers who've purchased monopods for under $50 is the breakage of the plastic anchor that holds the mounting screw that screws into the bottom of your camera.
Maximum height is the most important specification to pay attention to. If you have to hunch over to view your composition when shooting stills or video, you won't be satisfied with you monopod and likely won't use it much, or worse yet, your photography will suffer.
Whether you can go with a simple plastic mounting collar or a more sophisticated head that tilts is the second most important feature to determine.
Monopods save space and time. Tripods are good about 90% of the time, but there are situations where you can't extend three legs outward. You may be in a crowd photographing an event or out in the woods photographing quickly moving wildlife. The "footprint" of a tripod gets big rapidly as you extend the legs downward.
You get what you pay for with many things and it's true for the best monopod for under 50 dollars too. Plastic parts are lighter and cheaper, but not as durable. That doesn't mean you can't save money, particularly if you aren't a heavy duty user.
There are many good monopods out there in Monopodland, but I narrowed down to these because of the outstanding reviews they received by so many buyers.
I combine my own experiences with the experiences of as many other photographers as possible to form my opinions. I research the specifications and performance of cameras and accessories from a variety of sources.
The most informative source I've found is Amazon because they get so many more reviews from buyers than the other on line camera retailers.
Having a reversible screw in the mounting plate adds to the versatility of good quality monopods.
Minimum folded size is only 16 inches which makes it small enough to clip on your waist belt. It's high grade carbon fiber and weighs a ridiculously light amount, it's less than one pound.
Has twist locks that are more durable. If you have large enough hands you can literally unlock all of them at once.
Good as a walking stick too, it comes with a carabiner clip and compass. Here are some of the advertised features:
As an Amazon affiliate I may receive a small commission from qualifying purchases, at NO added cost to you.
Check Price of Sirui P-326 on Amazon now!
Monopod Reviews and Accessories. For more information about specific monopod reviews and monopod accessories.
Opteka Monopod Reviews. Reviews of the features, pros and cons of Opteka Monopods.
Manfrotto-Bogen Monopods - Reviews. Higher quality and higher priced line of Manfrotto and Bogen Monopods.
How to Use a Monopod. Using a monopod is simple, but many people make the mistake of not knowing the best monopod techniques. Discover the under-used tips on how to get the best results with your monopod and get the sharpest photos.
Monopod Heads and Tripod Heads. A big consideration in finding the best monopod for you is what kind of tripod or monopod head you use. There are many choices.
Choosing the best monopods is an objective consideration of price, features and how you are going to use your monopod. It is also a subjective decision on what just feels right. Just like any other purchase it is sometimes just the look and feel that allows a photographer to enjoy a monopod and its intended uses. See the specific monopod reviews below.
I just added this list of the 4 best monopods based on some more research at the leading online photography equipment retailer. These are the highest rated monopods, limited to mid and high-priced monopods, for DSLR cameras. If you are looking for a good monopod for a lighter point-N-shoot type of camera these monopods are overkill.
These monopods got the highest ratings as well as had the highest number of reviews given. That's very significant, because it means you are getting a lot of reviewers who are all quite positive about each of these monopods.
If the monopod highly above are more than you need, you're better off looking at some of the budget monopods, all priced for less than $50 at the time this article was written.
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