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Old November 21st, 2009, 10:15 PM   #1
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HMC-40 at Young Eagles flight program

Today I covered the semi-annual Young Eagles program where pilots from the Experimental Aircraft Association donate their time and planes to take kids aged 8 to 17 on free airplane rides.

Videos: Young Eagles soar - Treasure Coast, FL | TCPalm.com

Today was the first time I had a chance to try out my new Manfrotto 561B. All I can say is, "How did I ever live without that thing???" I was really tentative at first, afraid to put pressure on it and not really knowing what height to use it at. I know I looked ridiculous at some points because I had the monopod adjusted too low and I had to bend over in awkward positions to keep my eye on the eyepiece. And it was a bit wobbly until I finally figured out that I needed to distribute the weight more evenly with the legs; I was using the lowest leg at full extension and just barely extending the top one. After a little experimentation, I got the hang of it and got it adjusted correctly....and wow!

Oh yeah, the videocamera was awesome too!
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Old November 22nd, 2009, 12:05 AM   #2
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That looked like fun. Nicely done Sherri.
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Old November 24th, 2009, 09:22 PM   #3
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Thanks, Dan.

Re-reading my post, I see I effervesced quite a bit about the 561B. Thanks for suggesting it. I can't believe how convenient it is.

My next video assignment is at a Thanksgiving Day meal put on by one of the local charities here. We're talking hundreds of people. I hope it's not as much of a madhouse as I've heard it is. And I really hope it doesn't rain.
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Old November 25th, 2009, 09:25 AM   #4
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More about the 561B, please!

Hello Sherri -

I was hoping you could go into more detail about the 561B as I am debating whether or not to purchase one myself. I've read a number of reviews about the pros/cons of the "monopod with legs" design, including the 561B and the Trekpod models.

My particular use involves hiking. I live a bit to the East of you and routinely hike the various state and national forests with my wife. I need something that is compact, light, quick to set-up and stable. I currently use a Gitzo Mountaineer tripod and head. The total stowed length is 24" and the total weight is under 3 pounds. Initial set-up from stowed position is about 90 seconds. Subsequent set-ups (legs extended) are under 60 seconds. Stability is good.

How would your 561B compare? I'm particularly interested in your opinion about the stability of the "monopod with legs" design in typical hiking situations (always uneven, not level, sometimes sandy or muddy, etc. terrain). Based on what I have read elsewhere, I would imagine the 561B is comparible in length and weight measurements to the Gitzo tripod/head, but would be faster on set-ups and perhaps less stable in typical "off-road" settings.

What are your thoughts? If you agree that my guess about stability in hiking situations is correct, do you think there might be ways to easily mitigate without adding to weight or set-up time (e.g., step on the legs)?

Thank you for your thoughts, I appreciate your time!
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Old November 28th, 2009, 09:03 PM   #5
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Hey Lee,

I've only used the 561B twice so far, so I can't really give you an in-depth review yet. But I will say this - for someone like myself who HATES to carry extra gear but still needs the extra stability of a monopod or tripod, the 561B is great. It's probably around 4 pounds, maybe slightly lighter by itself. So with the HMC-40 attached to it, it's not an unbearable weight for me to carry around. It sets up quickly, the little feet fold down and lock into place.

As for actual use in the field, I have found that I'm most comfortable handling or "leaning" on the camera/monopod much like a singer would work a microphone stand. You can swivel the camera around pretty much any way you want. I've found that the little feet do make a difference stability, in that when you're swiveling, you don't have to worry about the bottom of the monopod swinging up off the ground and ruining your shot. I tend to step on one of the feet when I lean in on the camera just for extra stability.

I've not used a monopod under the conditions you are describing but I think the 561B could pretty much handle any terrain. I suppose you could leave the legs up if you encountered tight spaces where you couldn't balance the monopod with the legs down. As far as set up and break down speed, I'm still super-cautious with it. But I imagine that 561B veterans can get the camera/pod ready to go or pack up in seconds, thanks to the quick-release plate.

Hope this helps somewhat.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 07:18 PM   #6
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Thank you for the feedback!

I purchased the TrekPod monopod and will give it a try during a parade this weekend (set-up space and maneuverability will be at a premium).
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Old December 10th, 2009, 08:20 PM   #7
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Parade was canceled due to rain, but I did take the TrekPod on a hike the next day.

The TrekPod worked well for wide shots and is very convenient when maneuverability is important. It is sufficiently stable to let me leave the camera unattended (no wind), but it would be vulnerable to sudden gusts. The TrekPod is not stable enough for zoomed or "super" zoomed shots (using 1.7x Canon TL-H43 from my HV30).
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Old December 10th, 2009, 11:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sherri Nestico View Post
Hey Lee,

.....I tend to step on one of the feet when I lean in on the camera just for extra stability.

......Hope this helps somewhat.
Sherri....as an owner of the 561B who USED to do this very thing, I highly suggest you break the habit now.

Sooner or later you will crack and break the foot. It is just made of plastic and it is at an angle where it is not supported all the way across the foot. When mine let go, I had it balanced upright and not holding on with my cam sitting on top, when it just fell to the floor, lens first. That is also the last time I used it without a safety strap to keep it from crashing.

The good news is Manfrotto stocks the feet as replacement parts. The bad new... the cam was DOA.

It wasn't until I broke mine and examined it, that I saw that what I was doing was only going to give me the results I got. If you open your feet up and look across them, you will see what I am talking about. The plane at which the foot rests is about a half inch or so lower than the point where it attaches to the base.

Still though.... it's my weapon of choice, hand down !!!!
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