Tripods and Monopods – Which is the best?

Hello Everyone

Tripods and Monopods, both are very essential pieces of equipment for a photographer. While, monopod may not be the choice of many people who are starting out as photographer, professionals love the one-legged stand.

Both these cannot be compared because they both are used in very different scenarios, where the needs of the photographer decide which one of these two is to be used. The tripod is used when support is of paramount importance but speed and ability to make quick changes in composition is not. On the other hand, a monopod acts only as a support for heavy cameras and lenses but also allows the photographer to make swift movements or changes since manipulating one leg is easier than three.

Can you think of some genres of photography where a monopod can be used, let me know in the comments section.

TRIPODS – MORE LEGS MEAN BETTER IMAGES ?

Yes, to some extent the heading is true. More legs offer better support which can result into better images. Tripods can stand on their own unlike monopods, which gives them an edge in terms of support.

Also, a tripod can be used in a number of different ways and is a boon specially for people into low light photography. People just love to tinker with those legs and are often amazed by how much they can achieve. Tripods are available in all types, some are flexible (like gorillapods), some are very rugged, some are made of high quality carbon fiber and some out of aluminum (old school). Nowadays, we even have tripods with magnetic legs. THIS IS CRAZY!

Needless to say it is overwhelming when you go out and look for one. Check this page out if you are looking for best tripod for beginners.

There are a few disadvantages as well of using a tripod and where a monopod can come in handy. The biggest disadvantage is the weight which really restricts the ability of photographer to move around freely. Also it takes a lot of time to set it up. If you are shooting action, you must be able to move around quickly. You don’t want those legs bumping around or those lock in knobs to stop you from capturing a priceless moment. I guess this justifies why more legs don’t always mean better images.

MONOPODS – ONE LEG ARMY

Monopods are great alternatives to tripods in situations where you need to hold big cameras and heavy lenses. Wildlife and sports are the two major genres where you will often find people using a monopod. If ease of movement and flexibility is important, going in for a monopod is always the right choice.

How to use a monopod?

There are two ways of mounting a camera on a monopod

  1. Mounting the camera itself on the head. This is suitable only when you are using a light camera+lens combination.
  2. Using a gimbal head or lens ring. A gimbal head is a good option because when it comes to handling large lenses, it is unmatched.

Gimbal Head

One minor issue with a monopod is that although it allows the photographer to pan easily sideways, but not up and down. But panning the camera from top to bottom is not something which is normally needed out in the shoot. If at all you need to move the camera up and down, the leg can collapsed for the height.

WHICH IS THE BEST?

It totally depends upon your requirements. From a beginners point of view, someone who is not in a position to spend some extra cash and is just starting out, going in for a solid tripod is the best option. It can serve you for years to come. Sure it is heavier and it is cumbersome to carry, but the advantages outweigh the cost 9 out of 10 times.

It’s not entirely false when I say that a monopod is more of a professional prop. You won’t need one unless you have those huge telephoto lenses. So if you aren’t very much into sports or action or wildlife, I don’t think a monopod will be the best bargain for your buck.

SOME GREAT MONOPODS

You can follow the same guidelines which I mentioned in my article the best tripod for beginners for selecting a good monopod. But if you don’t wanna go through all that trouble, I have listed some of the best ones for you.

  • Gitzo GM5561T : This is most compact and lightweight monopod in the list, very reliable, max load capability is 55lb (24kg). Can extend above 5 feet and weighs only 1.65lb (0.75kg). Very expensive
  • Benro A38TD : Main feature is the removable three-legged locking base which gives extra stability. Supports weight upto 39.6lb (18kg). Has a comfortable foam grip, max height -64 inches, aluminum made, weighs 2.05lb (0.93kg).
  • Manfrotto XPRO MPMXPROC4 : Carbon fiber built, main feature is the quick lock clamps. Max load is 15lb (7kg), extends over 5 feet and weighs around 0.6kg.
  • Sirui SUP204SR : Aluminum built thus very heavy. Has a removable aluminum spike at the bottom. Can support 27lb and extends upto 63 inches.
  • Sirui P-326 : Weighs only 0.9 pounds and is only 15 inches long when collapsed fully. Can carry 22lb of weight and extends upto 61 inches.

Check these sample images out. They were taken with the help of a monopod. Notice how the pictures are sharp and well-composed. Much credit goes to the monopod used.

CONCLUSION

Tripods and monopods undoubtedly offer superior support for your camera, it is upto you when to use which piece of gear. Having both of them in your bag is a great thing. But it takes time, patience and a lot of practice to learn how to use each one of them to their maximum potential .

There are all sorts of accessories available in the market which make them easier to use and offer a better experience while using them but they are optional.

In my opinion, if you have just started out don’t think too much on this. Just pick one and practice. Honestly, having great is gear is nice, but what would make it better is if you mastered using it.

Feel free to drop in a comment about what you think about tripods and monopods. Also, if you have any queries or questions, do let me know and I’ll be more than happy to help you out.

Shashwat

Founder of TripodsforAll

34 thoughts on “Tripods and Monopods – Which is the best?”

  1. Hi Shashwat,
    I loved your “low hanging fruit” post. How long have you been a member of WA? I ask because I feel embarrassed that my post addressing the same subject is so elementary. I’ve been in WA for about five weeks and have not made as much progress as I feel I should have. I can learn a lot from how you created this post.

    To answer your question on pods. I attend many concerts in small venues and used to take a tripod with me to make videos and stills. I soon found that the tripod was very awkward to move around and get the shots that I wanted in time. Artists on stage are not still and it needs quick set ups to capture the moment. That’s when I started using the monopod.

    Keep up the good work. I wish you much success in your endeavors.

    Edwin

    1. Sir
      Its nothing to be embarrassed about. We are all here to learn from one another. If you need any help at all, please feel free to let me know.
      I am glad you like my website.

      Thank you so much!

  2. Hi Shashwat, thank you for providing an insight into some of the equipment photographer use. I appreciate you letting us know that tripod is better for a beginner and is cost effective when compared to monopod. I enjoyed reading your post and looking forward to seeing you discuss other tools used by photographer.

  3. I needed a good post like this to give me an idea as to which is the best equipment and why, thank you for your informative post on tripods and monopods, at least now I know the more legs the better, it makes sense but never really thought about it

  4. Hi Shashwat, I really enjoyed working my way through your Post.
    It Is truly inspirational and informative.
    As a novice photographer, I have learned a great deal from your article today.
    I had no idea that a monopod existed, I am quite familiar with the tripod.
    I can now see just how the monopod comes in handy and where it is necessary and a better option than the tripod. Yes if you are at sports functions or even conferences where there is a lot of people moving around in a crowded space, you would use a monopod as it would be very close to you and provide less risk of someone bumping a leg and messing up a one time shot.
    Thank you so much, I have you bookmarked and I will follow you for more tips on photography and accessories.

  5. Hey Shashwat,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this article as you’ve provided us with lots of valuable information. I’m planning to get a brand new monopod, but before I do so, I must ask a question. Do you think it’s better to buy a monopod which weighs less? Does it help in having a light weight one?

    Thanks in advance for answering my questions. Keep up the good work Shashwat!

    1. Hi

      Owning lightweight gear always helps. You would be much more agile and free to compose your shots. Since monopods aren’t supposed to stay balanced on their own, having a really heavy one makes little sense (cause weight helps in balancing). Go for a light and sturdy monopod. 

      Hope it answers your queries.

      Thanks

  6. Great post. Any photographer leaving the studio is subject to a monopod. Lightweight, portable and versatile, many photographers quickly discover their advantages. Sadly, most of them lay at the bottom of their cupboard until they bring it out and sell it on eBay. The reason for this is largely because of poor expectations and lack of knowledge of how or when to correctly use it.

    1. Hi Michelle

      This is sad but actually very true. Monopods are often under-utilised. It is just a matter of getting a hang of it. The more you use it, you will uncover things on your own.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. My friend uses both Tripods and monopods. He is a photographer and I am already learning so much from him to develop my own photography skills. His Tripod got damaged last month and he has been searching for a way to get it working again but to no avail. Please do you have tips on how to repair this?

    1. If the maker is a reputed one like (Benro, vanguard, etc) it might be covered in warranty. Check it once. If not I’ll be happy to take a look. Please send me a picture.

  8. Hello,

    I have once argued about the Tripods and Monopods and which is better, I have also concluded to the fact that, the outcome or result of the usage of any of this two tools depends on how well one can use it and how expert with using the tool. Either mono or tri the results of these tools depends on how best one can use it.thanks

    1. Hi

      You are correct. It totally depends on the user. I know some people who like to shoot with a monopod but some are die-hard tripod guys. That’s been my point behind the whole article. Glad you like it 🙂

  9. This is a wonderful and carefully reviewed product. I actually read over and over in order to be convinced. Its only possible to have good result when all factors are put into consideration. I am only familiar with tripods infact just getting to know abour monopods  which is an eye opener for me. Thanks for this lovely article, I learnt alot.

  10. Hey Sir, you covered the basics for beginners in this post. Also as a photographer you have some really good pics in the article as well. Did you take these yourself? 

    Its good motivation for anyone starting out in photography to look at some of the tools used as they progress into the pro field.

  11. Thanks for writing this article on tripods and monopods. I must commend you for a job well done for taking your time to write this article, I find each and every part of this article more enlighten on things I already know about but tripods and monopods. I only make use of tripod because it provide perfect balance for camera in my own point of view 

  12. I do some recording with a tripod stand at my local church. I never quite knew of monopods, guess I didn’t even think such existed. However, after reading your post, I think we will be better off with a monopod which will allow easy movement around the environment, without necessarily discomforting the audience.

    Thanks for this information, I’ll discuss with the board about this upgrade, totally worth it!

  13. I really Want to commend you for taking time to write this article about Tripods and Monopods – Which is the best? .. I am a beginner in photography,  and I love tripodS because I have been use to it. I learnt with it, started my photography with it. Though,  your  article,  I have seen that monopod is better in some cases

  14. Hi Shashwat

    I have been thinking about getting into photography recently. This has been very informational to me. Thank you for informing me not to restrict myself to one genre and I will be following more on Ansel and Steve. I feel that the SLIK PRO 700DX is a great choice and that is where I am going to start. Thanks again

    1. Hey Kari

      You should follow pro’s like Ansel Adams, these people are great at what they do and offer unlimited opportunities for learning. You can just look at there photographs and extract a lot of information. 

      Also, SLIK 700dx won’t disappoint you. Great choice 🙂

  15. Hello Shashwat, I really love this interesting and engaging post with helpful comparisons on Tripods and Monopods. Am also a photographer as I really love doing that. Actually I started with tripod because my tutor them really help me on making the right decision as he made me to know some defficiencies in monopods. Which I can categorically say that I prefer tripods to monopods. It more legs offer better support which can result into better images and Tripods can stand on their own unlike monopods. It is my delight to add more from the the list in the article. I do love to get Benro A38TD. Hope they are not costly?

  16. Let me start by appreciating the brain behind this writeup that it was great having such a post that could distinctively differentiate between tripods and monopods . The writeup has also provided an insight into some of the equipment photographer use.

    Both tripods and monopods has a distinct camera. both are used in very different scenarios, whereas, the needs of the photographer decide which one of these two is to be used.  Basically,Tripods stabilizes the hand in the process of recording.

    tripod is better for a beginner and is cost effective when compared to monopod. However, monopod has not been the choice of many people who are starting out as photographer. This is because professionals love the three-legged stand which is the Tripods.

  17. Hello, have been looking for a good post that illustrate in details like this, I know tripods and monopods equipment will be very good for me. This article gave me more idea about camera and the features. Your post are always educative and informative. Thanks for the review. Best regards 

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