Travel Photography - Monopod or Tripod?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by cgennoe, Jul 12, 2008.

  1. cgennoe

    cgennoe TPF Noob!

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    Hi!

    I am planning to do quite a bit of backpacking throughtout asia over the next year (teacher in Korea:)

    I recently posted asking how to carry my gear and I believe the best way to do so is to carry my gear on my frontside using one of the Lowepro beltpacks.

    The next question is drumroll...monopod or tripod?

    I am a landscape photograher and had originally thought of buying the Manfrotto 682B because it seems the best of both worlds.
    However, I plan on doing more than posting my shots on facebook..namely, selling them.

    Having said that, would you yourself go with a monopod or invest in a carbon fiber tripod in order to ensure that those photos are tacksharp. $ isn't so much of an issue here..finding the best valued, lightweight, compact and sturdy tripod is. I was reading Gitzo make some solid candidates.

    I'm actually hiking Mt. Fugi August 1st to shoot the golden sunrise. I know it can be windy up there. What do you think?

    Thanks~

    Colin :D
     
  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Personally, if I had the money, I would go for a top end carbonfibre tripod. Especially if you are doing landscape work and are going to want a perfect steady and straight shot - a monopod just won't get the same results.
    What you could do is - as your walking - get both! There are some walking sticks that can double as a monopod (or the other way around). I don't know any names, but I know they are out there. That would give you something to use whilst on the move about the place (and an additional aid in walking) whilst also giving you the option of using a tripod
    As for balance in wind - well firstly many people wil hang weights off their tripod to get extra support (if your not carrying weights = and you won't be - then hang your bag on the tripod).
     
  3. Ben-71

    Ben-71 TPF Noob!

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    This is one of the eternal dilemmas.

    When you need to really stabilize the camera – low light, strong wind,
    etc' – a monopod is no replacement for a tripod.
    I'd consider a monopod only if I was sure that I'd use only fast enough
    exposures.

    Aluminium tripods are noticeably less influenced by wind than Carbon
    Fiber tripods, but they're, obviously, heavier.

    Add weight to either one, in a bag filled with rocks, hanged under the
    apex of the tripod.
    If the bag sways by the wind, tie it (from the middle or bottom) to the
    2 legs that face the wind.

    A good way to block much of the wind from the tripod & camera is to
    shield them with an umbrella, which is strong enough, so it doesn't
    collapse.

    A Gitzo – whether a tripod or monopod, Carbon Fiber or aluminium –
    is an excellent choice.

    The less leg sections it got, the more stabile it is.
    The less you extend the center column (or avoid it altogether) the more
    stabile it is.
     
  4. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    여보세요,
    Do you usually use one of those walking stick things when you trek? I usually take something like this or an oak martial-arts quarter-staff. They're very multi-purpose in camp and on the tail. If you sharpen one end and silicon a metal washer to the top you can additionally use a nearby rock to drive it into the ground like a stake - besides using it like a regular monopod I mean.. Then just use a Bogen super clamp or anything like it and you've solved your problem and increased the multipurposity ( :D ) of your hiking staff.

    Here's a mini-clamp that's only 150 grams and looks like it would do the job:

    [​IMG]
    Image courtesy of Hague
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2008
  5. Ben-71

    Ben-71 TPF Noob!

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  6. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    True. (I guess you're hinting at bringing an actual tripod?) But you can't use it for hanging your backpack from a tree, walking support, snake removal, prying large rocks out of the ground, fending off an angry badger, stirring the fire, suspending your coffee-pot over the fire, tube-tent rope anchor, or a place to park your rump when you need to sit and the rocks and ground are nasty/wet. etc. If he already uses a hiking staff the pod and string become "extra gear" which is always bad...

    Both are just more/alternative solutions to consider.

    Or did you mean 3 actual sticks?
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2008
  7. Ben-71

    Ben-71 TPF Noob!

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    I did mean actual sticks :)

    You reminded me of the good old days in the desert, quite a few
    days at a time, and having to manage with whatever was available,
    which wasn't much, but somehow always enough.
     
  8. cgennoe

    cgennoe TPF Noob!

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    These are excellent suggestions to ensure there is not any movement in less than ideal conditions.

    Can anyone recommend the best valued Gitzo?

    Appreciated!

    Colin :thumbup:

     
  9. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    In answer to your original question, "Yes". If money isn't a concern take both. The tripod is a MUST have for landscape work. (Cf is nice, but I'm not completely convinced the extra price is worth the saving in weight unless you're toting a big tripod). A monopod is essential for all those places (museums, temples, etc) that have large sings at the entrance saying "No tripods". A good tripod will cost you <$200 USD, and a good Manfrotto/Bogen, Gitzo, or Benbo tripod with a ball head (Don't get a tilt/pan head; too limiting for general work) will cost you somewhere in the $350-500 for aluminum and north of $700 for CF (That's new, don't forget to look for used gear). My personal preference is for the Manfrotto 190 Pro or it's Gitzo brother (the model of which escapes me) because of it's ability to not only reverse the centre column, but to use it horizontally.
     
  10. Ben-71

    Ben-71 TPF Noob!

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    Quote - Colin
    These are excellent suggestions to ensure there is
    not any movement in less than ideal conditions.
    Can anyone recommend the best valued Gitzo?
    Appreciated! Colin
    One can make a very stabile tripod from 3 sticks – this was no joke,
    but true, to do this one has also to know how to manage out there.

    "Best valued"? – This is specific–requirements–dependant.

    The answer was embedded in my reply. You could go to the Gitzo Website...

    There's never "not any movement". We can only reduce it to a
    suitable amount.

    If you are willing to carry the weight that the max' stability Gitzo model has,
    it is the 4.4kg (9.7lbs) Series 5 Gitzo, Aluminium, 3 leg sections, model G1500.
    + 2.95lbs of the Low Profile 3-way head – G1570M.
    + 1.92lbs of an Aluminium center column, if you want one.

    While Carbon Fiber absorbs vibrations faster than Aluminium does, it is
    more sensitive to the slower & larger movements caused by wind.

    If you're willing to sacrifice some stability (in wind, not in other conditions),
    and carry 1.71kg less (3kg less if both have center columns), then the
    most stabile Carbon Fiber is the Series 5, 3 leg sections, model
    GT5503S.
    It is a bit short, at 133cm (w/o center column), 2.69kg (6.5lbs).
    + the G1570M Head + optional Carbon Fiver center column GS5510S.

    The taller one, 151cm, but with 4 leg sections is the GT5540LS.

    If you take a center column, get a 'rapid' one and not a geared one
    (which would be less stabile and weigh more).

    If you're meticulous about stability, add 3-shoe sets, for use according
    to the terrain –
    a) Stainless Spikes, long or short, and b) All terrain shoes (for mud,
    snow, sand) – G1410.130B3 .

    Get a bag + strap, or a strap only, to carry it.

    Don't touch the camera or tripod while releasing the shutter.
    Get a remote release, or use the self timer.
    Lock up the mirror and wait a few seconds before releasing the shutter.

    What I said about using an umbrella to block wind wasn't a joke.
    Or, block some wind with your body, spreading your jacket sideways.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2008
  11. ironsidephoto

    ironsidephoto TPF Noob!

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    My question relates to this one. I'm going to be backpacking some in the Tibet/Bhutan/Nepal region in a few months. I won't have room/weight to spare to carry a tripod, but I am looking into a monopod--specifically, a hiking staff-type monopod that can convert to a tripod. The best one I've found is the Trekpod Go, but it's a bit pricey. Anyone have tips on this?

    http://www.trek-tech.com/products/trekpods.html

    Thanks!
     
  12. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Make room! Seriously, one of the compact CF models from Gitzo, Benbo or Manfrotto with a small ballhead will weigh less than five pounds and cost maybe $4-500. This is going to be prime territory for panoramas and long-exposure sunrise/sunset shots. Get yourself a good quality hiking staff which is only a hiking staff, and a camera support which is only a camera support.
     

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