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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old August 28th, 2013, 04:54 PM   #1
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Monopod

I'm thinking of getting a monopod to do weddings. I shoot solo and have found using one tripod for wide safety backup shot and hand held primary with tripod too slow once I switch from hand held to tripod. Once on the tripod during the ceremony its cumbersome if I need to change angle and if there is not much room the tripod gets in the way. Since it's a carbon firber tripod without a spreader every time you lift it up to reposition the legs have to re-adjusted, it also has no center column so its next to imposible to adjust the height quickly. Even though it's light and small it doesn't work well for solo run and gun wedding work.

So I have 3 monopods in mind and would like input based on the application. Yes I know its not as stable as a tripod but its better than hand holding or missing a shot because you're fooling around with a tripod.

1.
Manfrotto 685B NeoTec
$180

Even though I've read durability issues and it doesn't have a fluid head it excells at quick verticle adjustments.

2.
Manfrotto 557B Pro with 3272 Sliding Quick 557B
$150

Nice and simple can add a fluid head, big plus it has the standard quickrelease plate included

3.
Manfrotto 561BHDV-1
$240

Expensive, I don't like the head can only tilt so you have to rely on the ball joint at the base for panning (which I heard can pop). But I do like the feet and seems like a lot of people have bought it based on all the reviews at B & H.
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Old August 28th, 2013, 06:09 PM   #2
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Re: Monopod

Caveats first: Personally, I don't do wedding videography. But, I've been to a few (just recently as earlier this week) and I can imagine what you're up against with trying to use a tripod. Some places won't have enough room so the legs can be easily bumped by attendees who have their interests elsewhere.

Last winter I picked up the Manfrotto 561BHDV in a trade with another DVinfo member here who does a lot of video professionally. It wasn't something that I was looking for but I had a couple Panasonic mic holders that were of no use to me and so I did the trade. I'd go a step further and say I had never even heard of a monopod like that before, mostly something that was akin to a walking stick.

When I first got it I tried it out and got the squeak ball foot noise that is frequently talked about. The ball foot also had a bad telescoping of a "jerk" when the monopod head was moved. I was not too happy but decided it would be okay if it just remained in one position. However, I began to consider it a challenge to fix this problem. After adjusting the tightening on the ball screws and applying some Teflon spray lube the problem went away. It has been many months now and .... no problems!!!

Like I said earlier, I don't do weddings, but I'd give two thumbs up to using a monopod .... with the addition of one more thing: FCPX.

A monopod is not as stable as a tripod. There is always bound to be 'some' movement in the videos. Movement that neither you nor your client will want. For me, this is typically caused by trying to find the balance point and then doing some "minor correction" during the take. Run the clip through FCPX using "Stabilization" and your video will come out looking rock-solid. Guaranteed.

So, here is my answer for the kit addition: Monopod: Yes. PLUS Final Cut Pro X and run the clip through the "Stabilization" mode.
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Old August 29th, 2013, 12:05 AM   #3
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Re: Monopod

The Manfrotto 561HDV is great. It's a shame it doesn't have the one handed adjustment system of the NeoTec. However a monopod is never as stable as a tripod as there is always a small weaving motion however hard you try & hold it still.

A colleague has just started using a Steddiepod & really sings its praises. Having tried it out for myself I can see the potential. It's far more stable than a monopod but still with a small footprint & it doesn't topple over if you let go.
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Old August 29th, 2013, 01:13 AM   #4
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Re: Monopod

I second Nigel on this one. I have the Manfrotto monopod, but now we have the Steddiepod we don't use the Manfrotto no more.

The Steddiepod with its multi uses is a winner hands down. I run it with a Manfrotto 701 head on it. I then have the same plate on all my tripods, steddiepods, and sliders.

Having all my kit use the same mounting plate makes life a whole lot easier.
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Old August 29th, 2013, 04:15 AM   #5
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Re: Monopod

Sounds like you need to address the tripod issue first.

The design you have is useful on uneven ground or in very confined areas such as between pews but as you've found you really need something that can work quickly unobtrusively and quietly.

Making a monopod your primary means of stabilization will introduce another set of issues as it can only do so much. As Nigel says you will still get some movement and this can be quite noticeable especially if you are trying to hold it for a long time or if there are strong vertical and horizontal lines behind the subject such as furniture and shelves etc.

Look at heavy duty light stands as well as tripods as these will solve all your levelling problems in an instant if the ground is level plus they are far less invasive of space than tripods. The ones from Cheetah work well as the feet automatically retract when the stand is lifted making it much easier to move around even mid-ceremony:

https://www.cheetahstand.com/Cheetah...-C12-p/c12.htm

Lightstands also enable you to go far higher than any tripod and this can be especially useful if shooting over guests heads such as when they are standing during a ceremony or during the dancing.

Getting your cam on and off a tripod or light stand with an appropriate video head such as the Manfrotto 701 or larger is a synch if you have matching sliding plates on all your kit. Calumet are cheaper than Manfrotto and do the same job and are interchangeable. You can get bases as well as plates and so can adapt other equipment you may have:

Calumet Quick-release Video Head Adapter - Quick Release Adapters & Plates favourable buying at Calumet

I'm not sold on monopods with feet though you do need a decent monopod available. I use a chunky carbon fibre monopod from Gitzo with a 701 head on top. You can use the 701's arm as a brace against your body. If I were buying again I'd seriously look at the Steddie. I'm waiting for Nigel to buy one and post a review :- )

Pete
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Old August 29th, 2013, 05:18 AM   #6
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Re: Monopod

I am seriously considering the Steddiepod. It looks like a sort of Swiss Army knife of camera supports well suited to the hurly burly of shooting weddings. It could only be improved by having a one handed adjustment trigger like the NeoTec rather than the traditional three levers like all the other monopods.
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Old August 29th, 2013, 08:51 AM   #7
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Re: Monopod

We have the 561 monopod...a little silicone spray on the ball took care of the noise/squeak for us...I'll have to try adjusting the screws a bit like John did...because it does still jerk when you first start movement. But for us, we're not relying on it for moving or magical shots...we use ours because we suck at hand holding, and this is a much better option than winding up with crappy hand-held footage. We only use it during prep time when there is not a lot of room, during the photo shoot when we have to move quickly and work with/around the photographer, and during dancing to allow us to move in and out of people on the dance floor. Anything formal, ceremony, toasts, important dances - are done on a tripod.
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Old August 29th, 2013, 10:37 AM   #8
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Re: Monopod

While I have no exp. with steadiepod I did once own a glidecam and found it not to my liking. Not easy to operate in tight spaces with ppl jossling for position. Adding and subtracting accessories such as wireless mic receiver, lights, shotgun mic, etc requires constant rebalancing. Physically taxing to operate all day. Gret results but with all the caveats I mentioned.

Thx for everyone's input.
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Old August 29th, 2013, 11:17 AM   #9
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Re: Monopod

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie Fasel View Post
We have the 561 monopod...
Same here...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie Fasel View Post
We only use it during prep time when there is not a lot of room, during the photo shoot when we have to move quickly and work with/around the photographer, and during dancing to allow us to move in and out of people on the dance floor. Anything formal, ceremony, toasts, important dances - are done on a tripod.
Again, same here.... with the exception with also use(d) it during first dance and confetti to get a camera up really high (looking down at an angle) by resting the monopod feet on my belt and using both hands to steady the monopod high up in the air. It works a treat, although on camera IS helps too.... It helps add an extra dimension / perspective on things.
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