using a monopod correctly

picture of a monopod

Using a monopod correctly will make your video and your still photographs come out better in several ways.

Monopods also make your videos look less like an amateur shot them and more like a professional was behind the video camera. As like many other skills, using the right equipment in the right way can have a dramatic effect on your results.

There are several aspects to this topic and each deserves some attention.

the correct stance for using a monopod

The first aspect is the most basic of all but quite important, How to Use a Monopod for sharper photos. If you are shooting still photos there are several ways to stand along with several positions to place your monopod tip and pole to get the sharpest pictures without blur.

The two primary reasons for using a monopod to shoot still photos are to steady the camera for sharper photos and also to support the weight of the camera. For shooting video, monopod make it much easier to creates smooth panning motions and a more fluid feel to your videos.

choose the right size monopod

Choose the right size for your monopod based on your camera size

Size matters.  In general, you only need a really light monopod for small point and shoot cameras and heavier-duty monopods for digital SLRs, bigger lenses and video cameras.

Both the maximum extended length and the minimum contracted length are important aspects of using your monopod as well. How tall you are affects the maximum height you need. Although almost all monopods will pack away easily, how you choose to travel with your monopod affects how small you wish it to compact to.

monopod accessories

Another important aspect of using your monopod correctly is having it properly equipped. One of the first mistakes I made with my newly acquired monopod was using it without any kind of head. It was early on in my photo blogging experience and I had no prior experience with using a monopod.

It was not a very expensive monopod and it only came with the standard mounting screw and plastic plate to mount the camera. In some situations this can be an adequate set-up, but there isn't much versatility going on there.

First, you are limited to shooting photos with the camera in the horizontal of "landscape" position. Second, you have limited ability to aim you camera upward or downward without significantly tilting your monopod leg forward or backward to a less stable position.

I used my monopod to take a series of photos with intentionally blurred background while photographing a bicyclist at various shutter speeds. The photos were composed in a horizontal format and the only motion I used was panning horizontally, following the movement of the biker as he rode by. It worked well in that situation, but with a tilting monopod head, I didn't have much versatility.

You can buy tilting, panning or ball heads separately or some monopods come with a head as part of the package. This gives you the ability to shoot an infinite number of angles as well as change to vertical "portrait" compositions.  Here are more thoughts on Monopod Accessories.

monopods for video

One of the least used methods of using your monopod is to use it as a video camera stabilizer. How many lousy videos have you seen with jerky movements that make it difficult to watch?

Using a basic monopod mounted underneath your video camera lowers the center of gravity and smooths out the effects of motion as you move your camera. Video on how to use a monopod for video:

This video is short and simple. It Explains and shows you how easily it is to improve your video with by using a simple monopod.

Whether it's a dedicated video camera, a point and shoot camera, and to a lesser extent a full-sized DSLR, the stabilizing effect still works.

Steadicam video camera stabilizerSteadicam Stabilizer

This method is not as effective as the professional steadicam-type of image stabilizing brackets that sell for hundreds of dollars, but it is a great step in the right direction.

If you take a look at this Steadicam model, it's essentially a sophisticated monopod with a handle and balancing weights to fine tune its balance. The cheapest dedicated video stabilizers can be found for as low as $15 but their effectiveness is quite questionable. You can pick one up in the $75-$100 range that have goold solid ratings.

Using a monopod correctly involves using the right stance, the right accessories for the right situation and choosing a monopod that fits the camera you are using as well.

Monopods are a great tool for the beginning photographer, the enthusiast, the professional photographer and videographers. You can find out more information by reading monopod reviews by others who have bought and use monopods: Reviews by Buyers and Users of Monopods on Amazon 

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