Our monopod is kind of like a superhero…
It’s got a long list of powers and functions, and it regularly saves the day. Without a monopod, the city of Stillmotion probably would have fallen ages ago.
We take it everywhere, and shoot with it so frequently that it’s safe to say the majority of the shots you see in our work are taken on a monopod.
We use the Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 because it’s super lightweight (just over 4lbs!) and compact (great for travel), and it offers so much versatility within its little body.
With a maximum height of 6.56′ and a minimum Height of 2.5′, this monopod allows you to quickly extend and get up over the action, or retract and get in there without having to actually go handheld.
Extend, pan, tilt, suspend in mid-ar… there really is such a wide range of possibilities with this monopod, and once you really learn how to utilize all of its functions, you’ll be surprised at how often you ditch your other pieces of gear and rely solely on its superhero strength to get you through your shoot.
One of the coolest aspects of the monopod is the tilt/pan bar function. This allows you to bring the viewer into the action, taking them from point A to point B in one smooth motion. The keyword here is smooth — you don’t want any shakiness or you’ll lose the desired effect.
How do you keep it smooth?
Answer: hold it close to your body. You’ll want both the monopod, the camera, and your elbows to stay as close to your body as possible in order to reduce the amount of shake as much as possible.
Go in tight…
Ok, so let’s say you’re needing to get into a really tight space in order to get the shot you want. While it might seem obvious to go in handheld, why not just get crazy with your monopod and keep that stability?
You can retract the monopod completely and it will follow your camera all the way in, keeping its legs on the ground and your camera nice and stable. This is going to help you out immensely when you need to get in there but don’t want to deal with bulky equipment that can get in your way.
If you’re needing to get the camera up higher, you can also adjust your monopod to get up there and use your tilt function to angle it however you like.
Here you see Ray pointing the camera down at the chess board to get an overhead shot. The added stability of the monopod allows him to move the camera back and forth, from one side of the chess board to the other.
Without the monopod, this would be a difficult shot to pull off, as Ray would probably end up just going in handheld and getting a much shakier image, or needing an elaborate setup like a dolly. The monopod’s extension offers a super simple technique for achieving a not-so-simple shot — so clutch!
Use the sticking point…
Sometimes you might find yourself wishing you had more of a tripod than a monopod.
Do not fear! The monopod’s sticking point function allows you to achieve a static shot right from your monopod.
There are three small screws at the base of the monopod that allow you to quickly adjust the tension, so you can get the exact position you want.
The sticking point option can save you so much time and equipment hauling by allowing you to pull off a static shot or even a quick interview without having to break out a tripod. This is an awesome feature of this monopod… do not be afraid to use it!
Keep your friends close, and your monopod closer.
The best way to get the most out of your monopod is by keeping it close, in more ways than one…
1. Close to your heart. Take it with you on all of your shoots, and you’ll find yourself using it all the time… we do!
2. Close to your body. Whenever possible, always keep the monopod in nice and tight, as it will stay more secure and give you far more control and stability for the smoothest shot possible.
The other thing to really remember with a monopod is that if you’re not adjusting it all of the time, you’re not really using it correctly.
Our 3/1 rule favors three shots as opposed to just one — wide, medium, and tight. We use this rule all the time, and we use our monopod all the time… so that means we’re constantly retracting and extending to get all of those shots.
The beauty of the monopod is that we can get those shots without having to go in handheld and lose our stability… superhero strength from a truly super tool.
Got any funky monopod tips of your own?
Let’s hear em!