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Old May 15th, 2010, 06:14 PM   #1
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Monopod and fluid head recommendations for NX5U

Hi guys
I'm going to Zambia in a few months with my NX5U. Part of the trip will be landrover based, and the other on foot. I was thinking a monopod rather than a tripod as
a. easy to use while sitting in the landrover
b. much faster to set up while walking, and lighter.

On the short list I have the Gitzo GM2540 (rated at 12kg, but only 1.5kg in weight) and the Monofrotto 701 fluid head - it gets pretty good reviews and doesnt weight much

What other recommendations do people have, particularly for fluid heads. I'd prefer to keep the head under $250-300

Cheers
David
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Old May 16th, 2010, 04:25 PM   #2
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I have the 701 head, and really it isn't quite man enough for my Canon XH A1 camera - I think your NX5U is probably similar or a little heavier (it was great for the Canon XM2 that I had when I bought it). However, if you are using a monopod you'll probably find that panning is done by rotating the whole monopod rather than just the head, and as panning seemed to be the worst aspect of the head, that problem is solved. Tilt isn't too bad so long as the camera is properly balanced on the head.

Find, or make for yourself, some kind of bracket to fix the monopod to the landrover door or frame, and you should do fine. Practice using the monopod before you leave - it isn't quite the same as a tripod, though a lot handier in many situations.
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Old May 17th, 2010, 02:53 PM   #3
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I gave up trying to use any camera head in a car unless I'm in the back of of pickup or on the roof. Instead I use a window clamp and attach the camera directly to it. Anything with a head and column pivots inside the car and so limits the angle. For some reason animals have the unerring skill to be just on the other side of the roof pedestal. Also from a car, get comfortable with telling others that they cannot jostle the car.
I also recommend against a monopod. You will be shooting a fair amount at full zoom and your shots will not be quiet. I always use a carbon fibre tripod and, when required, use it as a monopod. At full zoom I usually take my hands off the camera completely if I can.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 02:53 AM   #4
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The biggest problem I find with a monopod is keeping the horizon reasonably level. But a monopod is better than nothing in a cramped space, though it helps immensely if you can brace it against something.

Animals turning up on the wrong side of the vehicle, or anywhere but where you can get a clear shot, is a hazard of wildlife photography/videography.

People moving or talking in a vehicle while you're trying to film is another hazard. If you can, hire a vehicle and driver so that you are the only occupant(s), and even better is to hire a driver/guide who is used to dealing with photographers and videographers. If you're on a package trip, you won't have that option, and may just have to make the best of it.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 04:39 AM   #5
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Monopod

Thanks folks - good suggestions,

I hadnt thought of clamping to the vehicle..... I'm sure I could come up with something nice and stable with a couple of superclamps and a fluid head that would attach to the vehicle frame..... hhhmmm - good idea.

Of course thats only going to work on one side of the landrover..... but then the places I'm going only take a few guests so I'm pretty sure I'll have one "row" to myself.

Cheers
Dave
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Old May 19th, 2010, 03:35 AM   #6
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If you are in an open-topped vehicle, you could clamp to a top rail/roll bar, and be able to view both sides of the road. However, rules on open-topped vehicles in game reserves vary from country to country, so you may not have this option.
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Old May 31st, 2010, 07:56 PM   #7
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For inside a vehicle, you might try something like the steadying rod I use for cameras and camcorders in tight quarters, where I can't work with anything larger. This photo shows it with an HD-shooting photo camera. There's a 1/4-inch bolt embedded in the wood core of the metal tube and a large fender-washer and wingnut are used to attach it and spread out the stress over a wide area on the bottom of the camera. I wrapped it with tennis racquet gripping tape.
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