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Old November 24th, 2003, 10:45 AM   #1
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Will a monopod help?

I'm struggling with keeping my images stable and still, especially when zoomed in a bit. Weddings are typically what I shoot, though there are other gigs that warrant a steady shot (atcually, most of them).

A tripod helps a lot, but I can't be stationary during the entire ceremony. I'm thinking a monopod would give me the mobility I need and help keep the shot steady. I'm guessing that while a monopod won't be as good as a tripod, it will give me steadier shots than just using my hands to hold the camera. Is this assessment correct? Will a monopod still suffer from swaying left and right and back and forward? I suppose it depends on the operator, but it's better than nothing, right?

I've read every post on this forum regarding stabilizers and monopods. Some like them, others find them useless. Looking at the Manfrotto and Bogen line, there are a lot of different models. Are they really all that different from each other? Some have 4 sections, others 6, but in principle, I'd think they'd all perform about the same, correct?

Thanks for any clarification.
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Old November 24th, 2003, 11:03 AM   #2
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Look at the marzpak at
http://www.marztech.com/

This sounds like it may be ideal. Look through the whole site and take it seriously, it works. I own one and I have a monopod as well. the monopod sits in the closet more than the pak does. It's very reasonable and very well built. Not at all cheezi.

So far as a monopod you can buy a monopod with a sliding plate and a quick release that will allow you to go from hand held to monopod to tripod very quickly. Look at the 558B on the manfrotto site.
http://www.manfrotto.com/

click on " Photo and Video Camera Supports and Accessories / Monopods / Monopods "

The 558B is the second on the list
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Old November 24th, 2003, 11:57 AM   #3
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I've seen that Marzpak before. While it looks cool (albeit, rather goofy) and I'm sure it works well, that's quite a price difference between a $50 monopod and a $400 rig. Though, if I want quality shots, I know I'm gonna have to spend some bucks.

I checked out that monopod you suggested. Some have retractable legs at the bottom, which looks like it can be used as some sort of tripod. The 558B doesn't look to have them. Are the retractable legs worth having, or should you might as well just use a tripod if you're going to make the camera stationary? I could see how the could be convenient, but I don't have any experience with any of them.
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Old November 24th, 2003, 12:10 PM   #4
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I used an old burly and heavy Gitzo monopod of mine on a recent DVX100 shoot with excellent results. We also shot all the time-lapse footage with a GL2.

A similar monopod to my older Gitzo would be the Gitzo STUDEX G1564 monopod. Nice and burly.

The idea of using my monopod was to remove the center of gravity from the camera and add as much weight and mass to the bottom of the camera as possible. It worked very well. The key is to use as heavy and burly of a monopod as possible, not just simply use one of the lightweight models. Also, I added a small Manfrotto 3160 tripod head to the top of my monopod with a heavy duty Manfrotto brass quick release. This helps to maintain a level shot when standing still and also obviously to remove the camera from the monopod quickly as needed.

Some advantages: you can "hand-hold" the camera all day this way, significantly reduces shaky cam, you can hold the camera high over your head and make 'pseudo-jib" moves, and in a pinch, a monopod works well for static shots too, when you do not want the camera to move.

- don
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Old November 24th, 2003, 02:16 PM   #5
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I like monopods a lot, but they're too shaky for zoomed in shots. You actually have to control your breathing when you use the things, or every little shake will show. (At least for me.) Bogen makes a set of legs that attach to the bottom of their monopods. Never used them though.
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Old November 24th, 2003, 02:25 PM   #6
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While every little shake may show, it has to be better than shooting with nothing, correct? I know every little shake shows now using nothing, so I'm hoping a monopod will be somewhat of an improvement.. Guess I need to just get one and give it a shot. I'd think it'd be better than nothing, though this may be subjective. Thanks.
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Old November 24th, 2003, 02:48 PM   #7
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You'd sure think so, but I wouldn't say it's as stable as a shoulder mounted camera. Your body acts as a natural motion stabilizer somehow. The big advantage of the monopod is that you don't get as tired because it's supporting all of the weight. For me, it also makes it practical to mount fairly heavy stuff, like a light, XLR adapter, preamp, separate mic stand, etc. Remember that every little shake you see on the LCD will seem 10 times as big on a television screen. If you have blow it up to a movie screen, it's astonishing how apparent shakes can be.
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Old November 24th, 2003, 03:55 PM   #8
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Bobby,
I got a chance the other day (for about 2 minutes) to handle
the Bogen 682B monopod with 3 flip-out feet. Didn't mount a cam on it. I do know of one fellow who occasionally uses it for
weddings.
Two impressions jumped out at me about the 682 from my brief handling of it. First was that the monopod itself is more thick and burly than I expected. You could walk around with an XL1 + on there no problem. (Perhaps in a week or so I'll take a closer look and get back more in detail.) The second thing that sticks out is that, with the feet out, there was less stability than expected. I didn't get right down and look, but perhaps the feet themselves (which are about 1-foot long 1/2" solid metal rods going out at about an 80 degree angle from the monopod) are not very rigid. It was not too hard to induce sway. My gut level feeling is that the 682B would not substitute for a tripod at a ceremony--especially if you were zoomed in. Just too much uncontrolled sway.
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Old November 24th, 2003, 05:06 PM   #9
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Two comments. I own the Bogen 682B with a 3-way swivel head (3025 or 3028). The only thing the legs do is to allow you to remove your hand from the pod, so you can get some rest. When your hand is on the camera for focusing or zooming, there will be a slight sway and flex. Outdoors this happens just due to the wind (hands off mode). Thus, I really see no purpose in this monopod with feet as it is a poor substitute for a tripod. Get rid of the feet and just use it as a monopod, possibly with the optional shoulder brace.

The Marztech looks similar to the Tortlerig, but at half-price. This looks like it could work. I've played around with wire-suspended cameras, and you can do amazing tricks with them. Some people swear by this technique as a real backsaver.
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Old November 24th, 2003, 05:12 PM   #10
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Whichever monopod you buy be sure to mount a sliding plate like the one I posted. The plate allows you to set the position of the camera so that it is perfectly balanced.

Another posibility would be the might wondercam mini rover.

http://www.dvshop.ca/camera/videosmith.html

Look at the examples of the L bracket and how different equipment is mounted to it. The grip allows you to lock your elbows in tightly to your sides and provides a remarkably stable platform. There will be no camera shake (unless your whole torso is shaking).

You may think that any L bracket will do, but there is a difference. The grip and layout of the miny rover is superb.

The mini rover is available at B&H for $50. The DVshop site has a better illustration .
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Old November 24th, 2003, 05:51 PM   #11
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I'll keep in mind a good sliding plate when I pick up a monopod. Since monopods are relativiely inexpensive, think I'll just grab one and see how it works for me. If it doesn't perform as well as I think it should, I'm not out very much money.

That mini-rover looks interesting. I'm not sure I understand how it would give you a steadier shot, but I'm guessing anything is slightly steadier than actually holding the camera itself. This might be a viable option as well.

So for those that have used the Marzpak, let's say at a wedding, do you find it to be obtrusive? I don't see how you could be very discreet with that, though I'm sure it works great.

Thanks for all of the tips and info. guys. Hopefully I'll be doing some experimenting soon and will let y'all know how it goes.
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Old November 24th, 2003, 06:03 PM   #12
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One other possibility might be the Steddiepod. Beefier legs than on the Bogen 682B.
Of important note for the use of this device as a stabilizer is that it does not have a gimbal.
http://www.ezprompter.com/pdsteddiepod.htm
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Old November 24th, 2003, 06:45 PM   #13
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Bobby
if you hold the camera in your hands, your arms are away from your body and prone to shake.

The Mini rover positions your arms so that the camera can be locked in to your chest (side of chest)

To try the idea, tuck your upper arms into your body and let them hang straight down. Bend your arms at the elbow holding your hands as close to your chest as possible. Your upper arm and forearm will be in a "V" and will also be straight and parallel to each other.

Locked in this position, your arms cannot move. To move your hand you have to bend or swivel from the waist.. Your camera will move with your torso. Try it and you'll see what i'm talking about.

I once shot from the deck of a pitching ship. The camera moved but with my torso. It was a slow roll with the waves and not a shaky hand.

Buying the tripod and sliding plate together will save a fair chunk of change.
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Old November 24th, 2003, 06:55 PM   #14
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Although I haven't tried a Steadipod (mostly because it's $400 !),
it looks a lot like a $60 tripod with legs splayed minimally, each leg weighted by a roll of quarters on each leg.
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Old November 24th, 2003, 07:13 PM   #15
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I see Bryan, thanks for the tip. The mini-rover definitely looks cool, and for the price, hard to beat.

Obviously there are a lot of tools out there for steady shots. Since the flavors vary so drastically, I'm guessing some will work better than others depending on the situation. A monopod will be a quick start and just another tool I'll keep in my bag. I'm also looking at the shoulder supports now, as well as other stabilzers. The prices sure seem to go up quickly!

I have a lot of options to consider from what initally started as a monopod question :)
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