October 06, 2010

Monopods - a leg + 3 feet to stand on...

Both B Hague and SRS Microsystems are currently selling our favourite monopod for under £100 (about half price). The Manfrotto 561B is a really nice, all round monopod that has three little feet at the bottom, so it is much more stable than ordinary monopods.

We think that everyone shooting video (and most stills photographers) should have a monopod in their arsenal, because they are ideal for fast moving situations, where you might not have time to set up a tripod, put the camera on and level it. You can also use them for getting really high shots (holding them above your head if necessary - perfect for anyone doing news or red carpet events where there are a mass of other cameras between you and the subject), and you can use them as a budget stabiliser: just carrying the camera on the monopod, with the weight of the leg beneath it will give some stability to your shot. Even better, you can hold it upside down (rotating the picture in the edit), and use it for really low, ground-skimming shots.

The 561B supports up to 4kg (almost any compact camcorder or DSLR), extends up to 2m high from a minimum height of 76.5cm, and the aluminium leg telescopes in four sections. It weighs 1.91kg, and comes with a fluid tripod head with a tilt range of -60° to +90°, with counterbalance and fixed drag, plus a quick release camera plate. Having the little feet at the end also allows you to swivel it about and tilt the monopod forwards, back or side to side.

There is also a version for heavier cameras (up to 8kg), the Manfrotto 562B, although it doesn't extend as high (from 69cm to 193cm) - best price for it seems to be about £120, from several places found via  Google shopping.

By David Fox

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