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FORUMS General Gear Talk Tripods, Monopods & Other Camera Support 
Thread started 19 Feb 2018 (Monday) 15:13
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Monopod for Birding

 
SYS
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Feb 19, 2018 15:13 |  #1

Searched POTN for monopods for birding and the latest post was about 6 years old. Because I love the versatility of "automatic" monopods (with Manfrotto quick release plate), I've been using this set up for many years. However, with the recent acquisition of the Sigma 150-600, my current set up isn't holding well. I'm now looking for an ideal set up that'd allow me to carry the monopod with the camera gear on my shoulder without having to worry that the camera will twist off of the monopod. Any suggestions would be highly appreciated for both the monopod and the quick release system (or any system out there currently that works well).

Camera and Lens: Canon 5DIII (waiting for 7DIII) and Sigma 150-600mm C

Birding: Portraits and BIF

Budget: $500-$1K



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johnf3f
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Feb 19, 2018 16:12 |  #2

Not sure about US prices but for a light lens like yours I would suggest a Gitzo GM2541. I have had mine for years and cannot fault it for small/medium size lenses because of it's combination of light weight rigidity and durability. Like most Gitzo products it will do far more than they claim and it is quite happy with a 600 F4 L IS on top!

A "Tilt" head on top will help with birds in flight and the RRS MH01 is excellent - though pricey. The Sirui L10 is quite good too.


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SYS
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Feb 19, 2018 16:15 |  #3

johnf3f wrote in post #18567663 (external link)
Not sure about US prices but for a light lens like yours I would suggest a Gitzo GM2541. I have had mine for years and cannot fault it for small/medium size lenses because of it's combination of light weight rigidity and durability. Like most Gitzo products it will do far more than they claim and it is quite happy with a 600 F4 L IS on top!

A "Tilt" head on top will help with birds in flight and the RRS MH01 is excellent - though pricey. The Sirui L10 is quite good too.

Thanks, exactly the kind of recommendations I was hoping to get. Regarding your comment, though: "but for a light lens like yours..."

Wait until you get old like me. :-P



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johnf3f
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Feb 19, 2018 16:27 as a reply to  @ SYS's post |  #4

I am 59, overweight (very!), arthritic, Diabetic and have damaged knees. I dream of lenses as light as yours:-)

The trouble is that I love my 800 F5.6 L IS and 1DX + large tripod and Gimbal head - but I often need to bring along my 300 F2.8 L IS (just in case) and then there is the flask of tea (essential!), comfy chair etc etc:-)

I used to be 6ft 5 tall but am now 5ft 9!:lol:

Seriously though, these days I don't normally carry more than 25lbs or so as it limits my range too much before my knees or back give out. A couple of years ago I was carting 55lbs + for a mile or so out and the same back when chasing Short Eared Owls. I would really struggle to do that now - age comes quick!


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MalVeauX
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Feb 19, 2018 16:32 |  #5

Here's another option, on the opposite budget end of things, if you care. Because I use a 150-600 and various cameras (from APS-C to 1D series bodies). I also use a 300 F4L IS with TC's. But the point is the big 150-600 and how a monopod can help.

Here's my setup:

Benro A38F (mag alloy) Monopod
Desmond DMH-2 Tilt Head
DAC-X1 Arca Grip
And about a 4 inch lens collar foot bolted onto my 150-600

Tilthead & Grip ($60) (external link)
Benro A38FD ($80) (external link)

The tilt knob is very big, very easy to use, tightens down easy, eases up easy. Monopod has a big rubber foot that allows you to pivot and move around.

IMAGE: https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8694/28110998423_bb67d50289_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/JQ5d​sB  (external link) IMG_9886 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

And it handles serious amounts of weight too (1D, 300F4L IS, 1.4x TC, Off axis flash bracket, Speedlite, Better beamer, TTL cable) with ease (and this is a heavy kit honestly, I don't like how heavy it is, hence it's on a monopod as I walk along the shore):

IMAGE: https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4568/27035115489_9caaf48e39_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Hc12​WR  (external link) X10S9536 copy (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Been a great stick for the past few years!

IMAGE: https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1610/25704784132_febf91ce7d_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/FarJ​Mj  (external link) IMG_1808 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7590/28674219736_840eb89e07_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/KFQS​wU  (external link) IMG_9885 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Very best,

My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link)

  
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SYS
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Feb 19, 2018 16:33 |  #6

johnf3f wrote in post #18567676 (external link)
I am 59, overweight (very!), arthritic, Diabetic and have damaged knees. I dream of lenses as light as yours:-)

The trouble is that I love my 800 F5.6 L IS and 1DX + large tripod and Gimbal head - but I often need to bring along my 300 F2.8 L IS (just in case) and then there is the flask of tea (essential!), comfy chair etc etc:-)

I used to be 6ft 5 tall but am now 5ft 9!:lol:

Seriously though, these days I don't normally carry more than 25lbs or so as it limits my range too much before my knees or back give out. A couple of years ago I was carting 55lbs + for a mile or so out and the same back when chasing Short Eared Owls. I would really struggle to do that now - age comes quick!

I walked about 5 miles yesterday with my "light" gear, and I was totally exhausted with all of my muscles aching.... :lol:



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SYS
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Feb 19, 2018 16:42 |  #7

MalVeauX wrote in post #18567681 (external link)
Here's another option, on the opposite budget end of things, if you care. Because I use a 150-600 and various cameras (from APS-C to 1D series bodies). I also use a 300 F4L IS with TC's. But the point is the big 150-600 and how a monopod can help.

Here's my setup:

Benro A38F (mag alloy) Monopod
Desmond DMH-2 Tilt Head
DAC-X1 Arca Grip
And about a 4 inch lens collar foot bolted onto my 150-600

Interesting and more economical set up, especially the Tilt Head. I'll take a close look, thanks.



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MalVeauX
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Feb 19, 2018 16:56 |  #8

The combination of the monopod & tilt head along with image stabilization, I was able to get down to some very, very slow shutter speeds under dark tree cover canopy for some portraits:

Despite being inexpensive, it's rigid and provides great stability. Check out these shutter speeds:

IMAGE: https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1619/26106269410_2ce3a69074_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/FLVs​nh  (external link) IMG_2574 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

IMAGE: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7079/27720299926_6961d24815_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/JexM​pC  (external link) IMG_3647 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

This one, I'm panning with the swimming subject (note top left tree branch with motion blur, compared to subject; both relative to this shutter speed at this focal length):

IMAGE: https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1478/25776356343_f293e84f45_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/FgLy​GX  (external link) IMG_2579 (external link) by Martin Wise (external link), on Flickr

Monopods & tilt heads, especially with image stabilization on these long lenses, allows you to really nail shots in otherwise impossible light.

Very best,

My Flickr (external link) :: My Astrobin (external link)

  
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SYS
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Feb 19, 2018 17:11 |  #9

MalVeauX wrote in post #18567701 (external link)
The combination of the monopod & tilt head along with image stabilization, I was able to get down to some very, very slow shutter speeds under dark tree cover canopy for some portraits:

Monopods & tilt heads, especially with image stabilization on these long lenses, allows you to really nail shots in otherwise impossible light.

Very best,

Well done here with such low SS. I've been testing more of my new Sigma 150-600 C, this time hand-held for the most part, and I'm not getting as many keepers in comparison to the lens on monopod. But without the tilt head, monopod became more a hindrance when I suddenly go from low angle shots to higher angle, so the set up upgrade.



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clipper_from_oz
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Post edited 4 months ago by clipper_from_oz. (9 edits in all)
     
Feb 20, 2018 00:52 |  #10

My setup for a 5DSR and 100-400Mk2 is a Gitzo GM2340 and a Benro DJ80 head

Below is a sample of what I have got with this combo . For what its worth I spent considerable amount of time on testing gimbals and ball/tilt heads of all types and also different types of tripods and monopods to come to the above simple setup. I found keep it simple and dont overdo the head was key to this. I ended up with a simple Benro tilt head that did the trick although I must say I only use the tilt on rare occasions and keep it mainly locked in one position however its nice to have the option when needed. Re the benro You may need to go up in models from mine if you use the "sport" model rather than the "contemporary"

A mate of mine who I regularly shoot BIF with had a very sophisticated rig with gimbal etc to start with . Then he changed to just monopod and ball head and then from ball head to tilt head and now he has the monopod directly attached to his Nikon 400mm f2.8 collar ( Beast of a lens) and now gets better shots than he ever did and shots that are equal or better than mine.

The key also is get a damn good but basic monopod that is preferably carbon( mine is aluminium and heavy because Gitzo didnt do carbon fibre when I got mine) if hiking or carrying distances. Cant go wrong with the better brands like Gitzo , Manfrotto etc. Yes they are more expensive than most Chinese Monopods but they will last a lifetime...especially the Gitzo . Having said that there are a couple of better chinese brands out there that are good one of which is Benro. They are the Chinese Manfroto /Gitzo and are very good. Ive had my Gitzo Approx 8-10 years now and it still operates as if it were new. And thats because its basic. The less moveable parts( apart from telescopic movements) including the foot the better. I see monopods that have adjustable feet and monopods that have stabilisers but of all the people I know that have used them over time most are back to a single basic monopod with a fixed rubber foot

Of course this is just my opinion and other types of rig may be better suited. .

Rgds

Clipper


Update***** What I forgot to mention one of the reasons I use the monopod.. That is ...as I use the 50mp Canon 5DSR it can be a shocker regarding showing camera shake etc etc ....even at 1/1000 of a second believe it or not. The old rule of focal length x1 for shutter speed is out the door for this camera. Its more like focal length x3. So using 1/1000 of a second on my 5dsr when Im at the 400mm end of the lens is fraught with peril and danger on ratio of keepers to ones I have to bin. But with the monopod its a dream....right down for me to approx 1/250th of a second. And you will need this monopod if you are shooting with a 7dMk2 or newer sensor because the more densly packed the sensor the more camera shake etc is evident eeven at higher SS like 1/1000 of a sec. Especially if you are like me and crop heavily ( Almost always the case for Bird Photography)


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Clipper
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SYS
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Feb 20, 2018 01:24 |  #11

clipper_from_oz wrote in post #18567986 (external link)
My setup for a 5DSR and 100-400Mk2 is a Gitzo GM2340 and a Benbo DJ80 head

Below is a sample of what I have got with this combo . For what its worth I spent considerable amount of time on testing gimbals and ball/tilt heads of all types and also different types of tripods and monopods to come to the above simple setup. I found keep it simple and dont overdo the head was key to this. I ended up with a simple Benbo tilt head that did the trick although I must say I only use the tilt on rare occasions and keep it mainly locked in one position however its nice to have the option when needed. My mate who I regularly shoot BIF with had a very sophisticated rig with gimbal flash etc. Then he changed to just monopod and ball head and then from ball head to tilt head and now he has the monopod directly attached to his Nikon 400mm f2.8 ( Beast of a lens) and now gets better shots than he ever did and shots that are equal or better than mine.

The key also is get a damn good but basic monopod that is preferably carbon( mine is aluminium and heavy because Gitzo didnt do carbon fibre when I got mine) if hiking or carrying distances. Cant go wrong with the better brands like Gitzo , Manfrotto etc. Yes they are more expensive than some Chinese Monopods but they will last a lifetime...especially the Gitzo . Ive had mine Approx 8-10 years now and it still operates as if it were new. And thats because its basic. The less moveable parts( apart from telescopic movements) including the foot the better. I see monopods that have adjustable feet and monopods that have stabilisers but of all the people I know that have used them over time most are back to a single basic monopod with a fixed rubber foot

Of course this is just my opinion and other types of rig may be better suited. .

Rgds

Clipper

Beautiful samples, and I very much appreciate the words of wisdom coming from years of experience. Thank you.



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Post edited 4 months ago by PCousins.
     
Feb 20, 2018 02:48 |  #12

A Monopod is absolutely 100% essential for my bird photography. I never use tripods. It is permanently connected to my lens. It helps with the stability, supports and helps stabilize. The more support and stability you have the sharper the image. Most places I go light is low and my set-up allows me to take decent photo's as low as 1/15's. Most importantly I use an old camera body and never push the iso above 800 so I have no choice to shoot at low speeds. I find the set-up easy and flexible to use. The heron photo below was taken at 1/25s.
I use a Gitzo GM5561T with wimberley II Gimbal.

IMAGE: https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4756/40174174412_4ac20b8009_b.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://www.flickr.com …40174174412/in/​datetaken/  (external link)
Grey Heron (external link) by Paul Cousins (external link) on Flickr

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SYS
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Feb 20, 2018 03:21 |  #13

PCousins wrote in post #18568015 (external link)
A Monopod is absolutely 100% essential for my bird photography. I never use tripods. It is permanently connected to my lens. It helps with the stability, supports and helps stabilize. The more support and stability you have the sharper the image. Most places I go light is low and my set-up allows me to take decent photo's as low as 1/15's. Most importantly I use an old camera body and never push the iso above 800 so I have no choice to shoot at low speeds. I find the set-up easy and flexible to use. The heron photo below was taken at 1/25s.
I use a Gitzo GM5561T with wimberley II Gimbal.

You have very nice bird photos. How do you find the use of Gimbal? Isn't it cumbersome at all and why did you decide on this choice as opposed to others?



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Post edited 4 months ago by SYS.
     
Feb 20, 2018 03:34 |  #14

I've been looking at Really Right Stuff Pro Monopod Head (MH-01 Pro) (https://www.bhphotovid​eo.com …_head_with_full​_size.html (external link)) for the past hour, but a couple of things that I don't really get:

1) It comes with three different versions: a) with Standard Screw-Knob; b) with Standard Lever-Release Clamp; and c) with Indexing Lever-Release Clamp. What are the differences among them?

2) Do I need anything else for the camera/lens foot to attach to the head or does it come with it?

As for the monopod, I think I'll be going with Gitzo GM4542 Series-4 Carbon eXact 4-Section Monopod:

https://www.bhphotovid​eo.com …4542_series_4_c​arbon.html (external link)



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Post edited 4 months ago by clipper_from_oz.
     
Feb 20, 2018 03:45 |  #15

SYS wrote in post #18568029 (external link)
I've been looking at Really Right Stuff Pro Monopod Head (MH-01 Pro) (https://www.bhphotovid​eo.com …_head_with_full​_size.html (external link)) for the past hour, but a couple of things that I don't really get:

1) It comes with three different versions: a) with Standard Screw-Knob; b) with Standard Lever-Release Clamp; and c) with Indexing Lever-Release Clamp. What are the differences among them?

2) Do I need anything else for the camera/lens foot to attach to the head or does it come with it?

As for the monopod, I think I'll be going with Gitzo GM4542 Series-4 Carbon eXact 4-Section Monopod:

https://www.bhphotovid​eo.com …4542_series_4_c​arbon.html (external link)

Dont know about the head but regarding the monopod you cant go wrong with that purchase. Also on any other brand monopod I would recommend not going with a tilting ball foot as they can break but then again its a Gitzo thats got this and just looking at the construction you can tell it is built to last ..I also note the thing will take 66Pounds weight!...I thought I was reading wrong when I saw that....!

BTw I also see if you dont like the pivot ball foot you can always go back to the rubber foot as a Gitzo option ...thats good.


Clipper
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EF 400mm f2.8 IS II L, Fujinon XF18mmf2, XF35mmf1.4, XF60mm f2, XF18-55f2.8-4.5, XF55-200f4
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