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How & When a Monopod Can be Used to Take Sharper Photos

Here’s a photo tip you aren’t likely to find anywhere else… how to use a monopod to get better photographs. A monopod (like the tripod) is an essential piece of camera gear.

“Manfrotto 561BHDV Monopod” captured by Dave Dugdale

We all know that using a tripod will give us cleaner, sharper photos. That’s a given. But lugging around a tripod can often be a major challenge–not to mention there will be a lot of times when it is impossible to use one. There just isn’t room.

So, most photographers (at least the ones who are serious enough to want good photos) end up getting a monopod and are greatly disappointed. Generally, it ends up in a closet somewhere never to be seen again.

If you didn’t know, a monopod has the same head and so on as a tripod, but it only has one leg. This design makes it lighter and easier to carry around. It can even be used as a walking stick if you’re trekking through the wild.

“Agapanthus Buds Macro” captured by Donald Windley using a Vivitar monopod

But, after one or two uses, most of us come to the realization that it isn’t any steadier than shooting handheld. In fact, with only one leg, it wobbles around so much that it is usually WORSE than shooting handheld. So we toss it in our unused camera gear graveyard and never touch it again.

Big mistake! The monopod is every bit as stable as a tripod; it’s just that few of us know how to properly use it. We use it as a stick with a camera on top. Instead, we should use it like a tripod.

“Tiger at Smithsonian National Zoo” captured by Jason Pier using a monopod

How to Use a Monopod

  1. For stability, we need three legs like a tripod. Here is how we turn a one-legged monopod into a tripod. The monopod itself is ONE leg and our own two legs–spread apart at a bit more than shoulder width–are the other two legs of the tripod.
  2. Place the monopod in front of you so that when you tilt it back to bring the camera to your eye, it forms a 45 degree angle. You will have to increase its length by quite a bit to get the 45 degree tilt and still have it at eye level. There is your tripod–your two legs and the monopod.
  3. The camera should be attached to a swivel head. Tilt it forward so that when the camera is at your eye, the lens is level even though the monopod is leaning at 45 degrees.
  4. When you are shooting, get into a good solid stance, and hold the camera firmly against your face. You now have a virtual tripod that is every bit as good as most actual tripods–with the added benefit of being easy to work with.

This photo tip can help you rescue your monopod from the closet and turn it into one of your most useful accessories. Since it is easier and lighter to carry than a tripod, you’ll actually use it and create far better photography. For more information, check out the resource box!

About the Author:
Dan Eitreim writes for ontargetphototraining (insert link). He has been a professional photographer in Southern California for over 20 years. His philosophy is that learning photography is easy if you know a few tried and true strategies.

[via PictureCorrect Photography Tips]

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