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Old March 24th, 2012, 03:46 AM   #1
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Tip For Monopod And Guerilla-Styled Shooting.?

I'm more a documentary-style cinematographer who enjoys working quick & fast, but I obviously want to have acceptable shots by the end of the day. I've worked for a year now with hands or digidolly only and while some shots truly comes out strangely good looking, other captures has micro-jitter problem and everything else that comes with using handheld.

What I'm looking for is something light, easy and quick to setup but which eliminates micro-jitter. I usually work with decently light prime lenses and not much zoom, so lens-weight is not a huge issue. It would seem a monopod is my answer.

Any specific monopod that someone here has used and can recommend for my style of shooting?
Or other tips that could work well?

(Camera: 5D MKIII)

Thanks for your time, appreciated.
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Old March 24th, 2012, 05:41 AM   #2
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Re: Tip For Monopod And Guerilla-Styled Shooting.?

Manfrotto 560B or the Manfrotto 561BHDV. The actual monopod is the same with 3 little feet & a ball joint at the base so you can pan & tilt easily from there. The 561BHDV has a simple video head although I don't find it very useful.

We used monopods for several years & still do on occasion but have now switched to ultra-light carbon fibre tripods as it is impossible to keep a monopod truly still. You get rid of the micro-jitters but introduce a weave. You need a little more room & is a little less discreet but they are rock solid & you can take your hands off the camera without it crashing to the floor. We use Giottos MTL8251B with VH6011-658D head. They are better made & cheaper than the equivalent from Manfrotto.

If not using a monopod or tripod then use a lens with stabilisation.
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Old March 24th, 2012, 11:57 AM   #3
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Re: Tip For Monopod And Guerilla-Styled Shooting.?

Then there's this approach which basically turns it into a traditional shoulder mount camera that addresses the micro jitters.

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Old March 24th, 2012, 12:45 PM   #4
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Re: Tip For Monopod And Guerilla-Styled Shooting.?

I use a Sachtler FSB 8 carbon fiber tripod and fluid head for much of my stuff; but last year I started using a Bogen monopod with a 501 head for some of it. I must say, with the IS turned on, you get some very decent stuff. In fact, I kind of like the look... it seems more like natural slight eye motion, and it is very nice for documentary style shooting.

Sometimes I use my Blackbird stabilizer for other than flying shots... like when I was standing in a river and the tripod & monopod weren't practical. You can't do that for very long without getting Popeye arms, however.
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Old March 25th, 2012, 12:17 AM   #5
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Re: Tip For Monopod And Guerilla-Styled Shooting.?

I just recently bought an aluminum Silk Pro Pod 600 after comparing about twelve monopods at the local camera store. It was a floor model, so they knocked $10 off the $60 price. Here's what I found...

* The "video monopods" with feet are too long to fit in carry-on luggage. The Silk is about 21.5" long and fits fine. Pack it near the top. On a recent trip, airport security needed to take a look at mine.

* Carbon fiber monopods have screw-type locks while aluminum pods have lever-type locks. The lever locks are generally solid. All of the carbon pods I tested except one were super flimsy at the joints. The one good carbon pod was nearly $300 and was not much (if any) lighter than the Silk. It would have been an ego purchase. On weight and performance, the $50 Silk and the $300 carbon model (I forget the brand/model) tied.

* I used the monopod in conjunction with Redrock's The Event shoulder/chest rig and follow focus, and a Hoodman Loupe. I really liked it! The Silk was short enough that I could rest it on my belt when I needed to pan and tilt around. (I was filming a 3 year old who was running in a park.) When the subject is more still, you can easily extend the pod and use it traditionally. When walking, the pod needs to be free of the belt and it adds a bit of stability, compared to just lifting a shoulder rig off the shoulder.

* The monopod in the belt thing rocked. It took the weight off my arms. I was balanced and could shoot like that all day, let alone with the pod on the ground. I didn't need to use the shoulder/chest pad of The Event. Just the handles/follow-focus, the loupe, and the belt gave all the stability and comfort that I needed, along with the freedom to pan/tilt around. One could get a simple rig with a handle or two as an inexpensive solution with a monopod. That said, I like having the shoulder/chest bit as I can use it to create an on-the-ground (or on a table/wall/car/whatever) tripod for locked down shots.

* I used this setup with a 35mm lens and the 100L IS. The footage wasn't perfect, but long segments (after I got settled into position) were very good. When I didn't have my footing and balance right for the shot, it's a bit bumpy. Hey, it's hard to predict where a 3 year old will go next!

Anyway, I've finally found my solution for solo-shooting while traveling. I can pack the camera, lenses, rig, and accessories into a Fastpack 200 and fit it under an airline seat. With the carry-on luggage with monopod in the overhead compartment, I'm set. The only thing I need to add is a way to clip the monopod to the outside of the backpack when I'm walking about. Add a belt-pack for batteries, cards, filters, and a alternate lens, and I'm set.
Jon Fairhurst
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Old March 25th, 2012, 12:42 PM   #6
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Re: Tip For Monopod And Guerilla-Styled Shooting.?

I agree with others here, I have a monopod with feet and it's impossible to keep truly steady. You end up looking for things to lean it against like fences etc.
I opted for a small lightweight carbon fibre tripod.
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