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Old July 9th, 2014, 08:50 AM   #1
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Do you use a monopod?

So, do you use a monopod for weddings? I either want motion in my shot or don't, and a monopod seems that it would be somewhere inbetween. I realize some video cameras have IS that helps this. But is it solid? What about DSLR shooters? Does lens IS (or Nikon VR) do enough? How long can you keep a shot still? Did it take a lot of practice to get to that level? Thanks!
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Old July 9th, 2014, 09:08 AM   #2
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Re: Do you use a monopod?

We shoot Canon DSLR...

IS seems to be more about that little glass wobble in the lens that comes with any real movement. My monopod/tripod has less to do with that than even just anything more than slow, smooth movement. IS really helps though, especially on telephoto lenses.

A monopod is really convenient for those times when you're on the move. Getting ready, or the processional/recessional. You will still have some movement, the handheld look (most of the time), but if you are NOT shooting telephoto, and you practice a bit, its not a problem.

That is, unless you take the extra few seconds to let the ball joint settle and adjust so it stills still on its own, like a tripod. Then you can get that perfectly still shot.

Its also nice when the footprint is small, like when you want to be in the middle of the tables and film speeches.

I've tried using the monopod as a stabilizer, as I walk around, but its a little too light for me. I prefer to use my heavier tripod with its legs all the way up. I've even used it as a monopod, with just one leg down.

Now, I usually use the monopod, until the processional is done. I put a quick release plate on it, so I move to my ceremony camera position and quickly switch over to the tripod.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 09:19 AM   #3
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Re: Do you use a monopod?

My A-Cam facing forward is always on a tripod so that's a lock down. My B-Cam is on my shoulder but I have an ENG rig under the lens which is a sprung rod with a mini-ball head at each end going to a waist belt. They sound simple but, man, they are so stable you don't need any other support. It was a favourite of Don Bloom's too. I find it way more portable than a monopod and the sprung rod also allows me to change height instantly ... like you get the flower girls coming in, then suddenly a 5'8" bridesmaid!

I don't use the B-Cam without it unless I really have to and it stays with me so there is nothing more to carry.

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Old July 9th, 2014, 10:09 AM   #4
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Re: Do you use a monopod?

I stopped using monopods as I found them cumbersome to drag around during bride prep or in tight spaces, they are great though if you need a bit longer continuous recording on the move. I use Panasonic m4/3 cameras with stabilised lenses and shoot handheld when I need to act quickly, those camera are so light, you hardly feel the weight and OIS is good enough. My goto all purpose lens is the 12-35 f2.8 (or 24-70 full frame equivalent) which I mostly use handheld, once I change lenses and zoom in further then the camera goes on a tripod, I even find a monopod for such occasions too wobbly and prefer to have rock steady tele shots.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 10:14 AM   #5
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Re: Do you use a monopod?

Bryon,

I've done it all. This time a year ago I had just moved from tripod all day to monopod, and now to handheld.

Heres the thread I started about IS handheld with a video sample a few weeks back.

IS lenses and handhled shooting

I just did a wedding on Friday past - first time with IS. I went entirely handheld for the bridal prep and the photoshoot.

OK, so maybe it's not rock solid - but its the (what I would call) 'micro shake' that is gone, and thats all that really bugs people.

If you think that camera movement is 'bad' (like I used to) then you just havn't seen it done well.

I soon realised that a film looks really good because of the content/framing/grading/story/music. All these things being 'good' means camera movement is irrelevant to the viewer. As long as its not so bad its distracting.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 12:07 PM   #6
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Re: Do you use a monopod?

Monopod ? What's that ?
My carry gear already weighs in at 7 lbs. No way am I gonna add to that.
I use a simple camera bracket with one grip, held by my right hand that also has the pause/zoom control on it and my left hand is on the lens as additional support, all resting on my right shoulder with my eye in the viewfinder. 2 small Sony batteries counterbalances at the rear. Kind of a 4 point support.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 01:38 PM   #7
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Re: Do you use a monopod?

I think monopods are one of the more unappreciated tools, i use them quite a lot

When i'm doing events/running around/etc... i haven't found anything that beats a monopod.You don't need a heavy duty one either, which is where the heft of some of them come in. the ones with the feet are nice, but i find myself preferring the ultra small ones, because you can clip them to your pack/belt and it's just there if you want it. Even if i plan on being handheld the whole time, i like to have a small monopod with me.

The other great thing about them is you can also use them on your belt, or belt pouch/bracket.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 01:51 PM   #8
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Re: Do you use a monopod?

Clive, your option here surprised me. I am pretty sure I read a post by you regarding not wanting even the slightest wobble or sway in a steadicam.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 03:47 PM   #9
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Re: Do you use a monopod?

I used a monopod for my first wedding during the preps in particular, as well as capturing reactions during the speeches. I found it to be an invaluable tool. Just set it up and go. I especially liked the movement that could be created with it, especially when placing something in focus, then moving out of focus, setting record and then moving back in so that the subject comes in focus... just one of many moves that seem to be used by some of the pros including Ray Roman and the team at Vimeo.

Just thought I'd add my 2 cents... still very much an amateur.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 07:55 PM   #10
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Re: Do you use a monopod?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron Jones View Post
So, do you use a monopod for weddings? I either want motion in my shot or don't, and a monopod seems that it would be somewhere inbetween. I realize some video cameras have IS that helps this. But is it solid? What about DSLR shooters? Does lens IS (or Nikon VR) do enough? How long can you keep a shot still? Did it take a lot of practice to get to that level? Thanks!
Hi, monopod is my favourite weapon. When shooting events, I'm constantly changing heights and cramming myself into confined places. It's true that a monopod is in between motion and locked off, but that's the compromise to hectic wedding environments. I can usually keep it pretty still, and I stabilise in post if I'm able to.

If I'm shooting a short film or whatever, then the monopod is in the gear bag just in case I need it (for tricky terrain, or to get shots fast), but tripod becomes the preferred tool.

But this is just my aesthetic. It's just taste. I've worked with a lot of people who believed they could shoot really steady material handheld, or with IS, or with a Z-finder, or using a neck strap on their DSLR, or whatever, but it's rarely steady enough for my taste.

Another way to think about this: in real movies, people make a conscious choice about shooting handheld or not, depending on the scene. Maybe, if you want to produce a well thought out wedding film, you should apply the same thinking -- handheld might be more appropriate for some couples than others, for some situations than others. A while back, I posted a link to a wedding film shot on actual film, mainly handheld, and it sort of worked in that context -- quirky couple and quirky look to the wedding; plus the handheld kind of added to the nostalgic, vintage feel. I could see it working, also, if you wanted to produce a really exciting, fast-paced wedding film.

For myself, the feel is more about lingering on the details or savouring the moment or whatever, and I want my weddings to feel calm and elegant. I think having a perfectly steady shot in itself adds to the production value, in the same way that being able to have a perfectly smooth slide adds to production value.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 09:29 PM   #11
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Re: Do you use a monopod?

99% of my wedding is filmed with a monopod.
Anything you see on my samples or website that is NOT a timelapse or slider shot, is done with a monopod. (Manfrotto -- the one with 3 little legs, whatever that's called).
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Old July 9th, 2014, 10:03 PM   #12
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Re: Do you use a monopod?

I have done a Macedonian family dance routine comprising 12 songs all running into each other each around 3 minutes ..that's 36 minutes all handheld and it looks like it was shot on a stable platform too.

That's just with a waist belt and support rod under the camera. It takes all the weight off the camera front end which for me is more important than you smaller DSLR guys.. apart from the cam body I had my Sigma 18-35 F1.8 lens mounted which probably weighs more than the average DSLR body. Dragging around a monopod is a pain and you cannot shift position very well either. Look at it much the same as a monopod that doesn't reach the floor but instead goes into a pouch in a belt around your waist so it's totally portable and part of you. The big advantage of course is that the "monopod" bit that goes from your waist to under the camera has two spring loaded sections which absorb any movement when you shift position and they also provide an adjustable upward force to your camera rig so all the weight is taken by the belt around your waist. All you need is a finger light touch on the camera to keep it upright.

I actually started this rig off by using, yes, a small monopod in a pouch made from a fanny bag around my waist and it worked really well especially if you kept the ball head loose. The only disadvantage was the inability to adjust camera height and later the adjustable spring loaded rod that replaced the monopod solved this totally

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Old July 10th, 2014, 01:30 AM   #13
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Re: Do you use a monopod?

Quote:
That's just with a waist belt and support rod under the camera
If I had to use a monopod it would be like this, just attached to a belt to take the weight out of my hands, to get some extra stabilisation and to hold the viewfinder up against my eye, often in the morning when family arrives and see the bride for the first time in her dress that is a great time to capture emotions, a monopod that you put on the ground would restrict my movement because if you need to reposition yourself without loosing the shot you would need to lift the monopod up and hold it up in the air or reposition it, during that time you need to be looking from a distance at the lcd screen and when you place the monopod down you will see that bump in your shot.
I prefer to have the camera up against my face looking through the viewfinder all of the time during run and gun which is for me the only way to see if I"m in focus and if other settings are as they should be, that's why OIS lenses are crucial during that time, I have used the 25mm f1.4 unstabilised lens and handheld with some success as well but often needs stabilisation in post, there a monopod would certainly help, but not the ones that extend to the ground as it would get in the way more then I would like.
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Old July 10th, 2014, 01:32 AM   #14
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Re: Do you use a monopod?

Weapon of choice:

Manfrotto 561B Fluid Video Monopod 561B B&H Photo Video
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Old July 10th, 2014, 01:50 AM   #15
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Re: Do you use a monopod?

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Originally Posted by Byron Jones View Post
Clive, your option here surprised me. I am pretty sure I read a post by you regarding not wanting even the slightest wobble or sway in a steadicam.
Yea Bryon, like I said, I've been through all the various schools of thought.

But for the record - theres a difference between the slight natural looking movement involved in IS handheld and a steadycam thats swaying...

(I still will use the steadycam at two/three points of the day)

The change in my approach came after other videographers who I respect started doing it - and their films proved to me that it works. Check out this handheld video by a friend of mine.


So... once I established that the handheld movement doesn't in any way hurt the shoot, I started questioning what the benefits are...

Say its bridal prep, and theres cards on the table top. You have to shorten or extend the monopod for the height of the subject you are filming (assuming you like to frame things up well and not everything from eye level). When shooting handheld, You have so much more flexiblity. Lift the camera to the eye (with Sony A7S evf!), and effectively shoot like one of the togs.

Shoot instantly, crouch, get up on a chair, get in behind something, squeeze past people...

I still use the monopod at parts of the day when handheld can be tiring. But I would certainly recommend you all to buy IS, and break free from support gear!
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