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While my camera is in for repairs I have been trying to make a decision on a monopod and head.  I do not own a 'proper' usable tripod I shoot hand held all the time.  After just a little over three months of running around with the 200-600 I have decided it is time to get some support for my arm and shoulder, which after 3hrs or so can no longer point and keep the camera steady to even get the bird in the frame; and for the shots at low shutter speeds.

 

I was considering the Sirui P-326 with Manfrotto 502AH Pro Video Head.  I know , I know it is for Video not stills so much, but this is me not wanting to get a gimble head, which I think for my purposes would be serious overkill and it is huge and heavy. 

Question:  Any reason this type of head would not work on a Monopod or is a bad idea?  What might work better.  Why I am looking at this head is, I don't know for sure that I shall never buy a tripod and it would be very useful then if I did, and it is cheaper than some other options out there.  I have seven weeks to wait for a quote on the repair of my A6600, and after I approve it only then will they get working on it, I should have it back in about 2-3 months.  In the meantime I don't want to waste too much time, have paired the 200-600 with the A7III and would like to get going but this time walk around with a monopod.  Also I have now replace the foot with a Kirk replacement foot so it is Arca Swiss compatible.  I can be pretty impulsive and was ready to buy, thought I'd ask first.

 

Appreciate any suggestions advice.

 

Helen

 

Edited by hsessions
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I have a Manfrotto squeeze head I use on my monopod, but frankly, seldom use it after going Fuji. I used it constantly when shooting Nikon D300, 7000 and D800. I had an 80-400 lens, that on those cameras, was too heavy for me to hand hold. I had too few keepers if I tried. I pretty much exclusively shot birds with it.

I have a Fuji 100-400, and I can hand-hold it on my X-T2 and X-T4. Although, if I sat for long, I’d want it on my monopod.

I’m not familiar with what you are contemplating, but the most important advice I can give you is to be sure the head can handle the weight of that big lens.

While I love my squeeze head because I can change where I point my camera instantly with it, it struggled with my Nikon setup and sometimes would flop. It also had a hard time holding where I wanted it, so I usually had to aim it a bit higher than what I’d want because it would sag a bit. It was fine with a smaller lens.

I absolutely never could deal with the heads that had several knobs and levers to adjust. The bird nested and raised young before I got the lens pointed where I needed it. 😂 I never could remember what knob did what. When I contemplated smashing the whole thing against a tree after missing a great shot, I quit trying and went back to my easy-peasy weak squeeze head. We understood each other.

Edited by Betty LaRue
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I have that head for video and I cannot imagine using it on a monopod. It is heavy (1.6 kg) and is controlled by a great big handle. You would really need three hands - one for stabilising the monopod, one for the head and one for the camera. You could  probably use it without the handle but that would be slow and fiddly.  I have no recommendations as I don’t use anything heavier than a 70-200 which I use with a light Manfrotto monopod and a light Manfrotto ball head attached by the lens collar (Nikon). 

Edited by MDM
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I find a fluid head really useful for stills on a monopod as it gives very stable support without having to lock the head and unlock it every time I move the camera - and the need for three hands as Betty mentioned - rather than the smooth movement they are designed with video for when used on a solid base. 
I use a Manfroto head I've had for years.

Edited by Phil Robinson
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I think this is what Betty refers to as a "SQUEEZE Head".  I had one some time ago but got rid as hardly used it.

 

 

Manfrotto 324RC2 Joystick Head

 

Vanguard GH-300T Pistol Grip Ball Head

 

AF-2100 TRIGGER-ACTION BALL HEAD

 

Take a look.

 

Allan

 

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10 hours ago, Betty LaRue said:

While I love my squeeze head because I can change where I point my camera instantly with it, it struggled with my Nikon setup and sometimes would flop. It also had a hard time holding where I wanted it, so I usually had to aim it a bit higher than what I’d want because it would sag a bit. It was fine with a smaller lens.

I absolutely never could deal with the heads that had several knobs and levers to adjust. The bird nested and raised young before I got the lens pointed where I needed it. 😂 I never could remember what knob did what. When I contemplated smashing the whole thing against a tree after missing a great shot, I quit trying and went back to my easy-peasy weak squeeze head. We understood each other.

Betty what you say about fiddling with all those knobs is exactly what I would like to avoid, I was afraid that this might be the case with this Manfrotto head as well or any other high end head.  I think the flop thing might not be that much of a problem here as it has built in counterbalance but still; forget to tighten a knob here or there, and the setup could flop either to the front or back - damaged lens or camera.

 

4 hours ago, MDM said:

I have that head for video and I cannot imagine using it on a monopod. It is heavy (1.6 kg) and is controlled by a great big handle. You would really need three hands - one for stabilising the monopod, one for the head and one for the camera. You could  probably use it without the handle but that would be slow and fiddly.  I have no recommendations as I don’t use anything heavier than a 70-200 which I use with a light Manfrotto monopod and a light Manfrotto ball head attached by the lens collar (Nikon). 

Thank you Michael, for confirming what I suspected, the weight of the head could be a problem, I was thinking of using it without the handle but again, the more I think about it, this particular head which has rave reviews on the internet is mostly from those that are using it on a tripod, might have less control on a monopod (three hands).

 

2 hours ago, Phil Robinson said:

I find a fluid head really useful for stills on a monopod as it gives very stable support without having to lock the head and unlock it every time I move the camera - and the need for three hands as Betty mentioned - rather than the smooth movement they are designed with video for when used on a solid base. 
I use a Manfroto head I've had for years.

Phil if I may ask are you using a long lens on yours?  Birding?  Wildlife? And once set up do you find you the counterbalance work well enough or do you still have to fiddle with knobs everytime to secure everything?

 

2 hours ago, Allan Bell said:

  I had one some time ago but got rid as hardly used it.

 

So glad I asked, I was about to purchase now will have to rethink, so it doesn't end up collecting dust in some corner of the house.

 

Thanks everyone.  This is exactly the feedback I was looking for.  Everyone makes it look so easy when doing their reviews on youtube, but I know me, and my skill level and patience for certain things, might not be the best solution.  I will for a while continue to walk around with it on the peak strap and take longer breaks, not like three or four hours straight to the point where at the end where I see a subject my arm and shoulder are so worn out I am drawing circles around the subject with the lens and almost not getting it in the frame, never mind getting it in focus.  Those are my mistakes.

 

Thanks all again, I think I have saved some money.

 

Helen

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A film/video head is intended to be levelled for each setup and then left. It would be quite inconvenient for stills on a tripod and murder on a mono. I would second the ball head- my cheap no-name one is quite adequate but I only go up to 200mm. Something stiffer may be in order for your 200-600. You've probably worked out that a quick-release plate is essential- I assume it would be on the lens rather than the camera for the bazooka.

I wonder if Phil is describing something different.

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11 hours ago, Betty LaRue said:

I absolutely never could deal with the heads that had several knobs and levers to adjust. The bird nested and raised young before I got the lens pointed where I needed it. 😂

LOL Betty.

11 hours ago, Betty LaRue said:

When I contemplated smashing the whole thing against a tree after missing a great shot

Same here only I was busy fiddling with the camera settings.  Several missed shots.

Helen

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I would think a smaller video style fluid head would work well with a long lens that has its own tripod collar.  You can adjust the "drag" of the fluid movement for up and down and side to side but you can level the camera (or change from vertical to horizontal) by using the lens collar.  I was shooting ice hockey, a few years ago, and found a fluid video head really useful with my longer lens that had a tripod collar.  But this was on a tripod, not a monopod, so I can't speak to how well it would work on a monopod.

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I have several monopods and a plethora of heads that can go on them. Including the Manfrotto monopod tilt head that I have used like once. My advice would be: buy the cheapest used monopod in the neighborhood (Craigslist / Ebay/ yard sale) and see what works for you. Many times I don't even unlock the ball head, because tilting the monopod is enough.

Your lens comes with a tripod foot which allows a full rotation. That is probably enough in 80% of your shots. I would just put a simple ball head (that you probably already have) on it, just to see what extra that does. In my case I now vary between a RRS BH25; 30 or 40 or the equivalent Leofoto copies. The smallest on the lightest mono or tripod and the biggest on the heaviest.

The carbon monopods I use:

Light: 160cm/63" - 320g but 225g / 8oz stripped: Koolehaoda Carbon (mine are black). Closed length 46cm / 18"

Your Sirui is shorter closed, but heavier and 4" shorter when extended.

Medium: 170cm /67" -  550g, but 409g stripped: Redged RMC 434 Carbon (not available anymore) very high weight/load ratio.

Heaviest: 180cm/71" - 553g - with flip locks and great for close combat. Flip locks make a horrible clicking noise when you're in a concert hall. Even with diy rubber damping pads. And they pinch your fingers now and then. But they can be quick in some situations. My oldest carbon monopod.

Why just ball heads? They are quick when aiming. But a gimbal is quicker and not all that big and expensive. (Ebay from $100-typical 150) However people usually use those on a tripod.

If size is a problem (carry-on?) have a look at the compact mono Wimberley MH-100 - around $225. Nifty, but the weight will be off balance.

Here's an interesting video.

A video head is designed to go slow. Not good for wildlife.

A longer monopod comes in handy sometimes because there may be no space for the pod where your feet are: bleachers; stepladders; rocks.

Disclaimer: I don't do birds or other wildlife. My focal lengths go to 600mm without converters. With a converter I use two tripods.

 

wim

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31 minutes ago, spacecadet said:

 I assume it would be on the lens rather than the camera for the bazooka.

I wonder if Phil is describing something different.

Yes it would be on the lens.  Exactly, it is a bazooka, what makes it more difficult to decide on the best support for it, while at the same time keeping that monopod light and simple/easy to use.

 

25 minutes ago, Michael Ventura said:

I would think a smaller video style fluid head would work well with a long lens that has its own tripod collar.  You can adjust the "drag" of the fluid movement for up and down and side to side but you can level the camera (or change from vertical to horizontal) by using the lens collar.  I was shooting ice hockey, a few years ago, and found a fluid video head really useful with my longer lens that had a tripod collar.  But this was on a tripod, not a monopod, so I can't speak to how well it would work on a monopod.

Michael it would seem from most of the comments including yours are that this head is better suited to a tripod and so were the reviews I watched on YouTube.  The lens does have its own tripod collar.   I am not ready to get one just yet, but might in future, maybe.

 

19 minutes ago, wiskerke said:

I have several monopods and a plethora of heads that can go on them. Including the Manfrotto monopod tilt head that I have used like once. My advice would be: buy the cheapest used monopod in the neighborhood (Craigslist / Ebay/ yard sale) and see what works for you. Many times I don't even unlock the ball head, because tilting the monopod is enough.

Your lens comes with a tripod foot which allows a full rotation. That is probably enough in 80% of your shots. I would just put a simple ball head (that you probably already have) on it, just to see what extra that does. In my case I now vary between a RRS BH25; 30 or 40 or the equivalent Leofoto copies. The smallest on the lightest mono or tripod and the biggest on the heaviest.

The carbon monopods I use:

Light: 160cm/63" - 320g but 225g / 8oz stripped: Koolehaoda Carbon (mine are black). Closed length 46cm / 18"

Your Sirui is shorter closed, but heavier and 4" shorter when extended.

Medium: 170cm /67" -  550g, but 409g stripped: Redged RMC 434 Carbon (not available anymore) very high weight/load ratio.

Heaviest: 180cm/71" - 553g - with flip locks and great for close combat. Flip locks make a horrible clicking noise when you're in a concert hall. Even with diy rubber damping pads. And they pinch your fingers now and then. But they can be quick in some situations. My oldest carbon monopod.

Why just ball heads? They are quick when aiming. But a gimbal is quicker and not all that big and expensive. (Ebay from $100-typical 150) However people usually use those on a tripod.

If size is a problem (carry-on?) have a look at the compact mono Wimberley MH-100 - around $225. Nifty, but the weight will be off balance.

Here's an interesting video.

A video head is designed to go slow. Not good for wildlife.

A longer monopod comes in handy sometimes because there may be no space for the pod where your feet are: bleachers; stepladders; rocks.

Disclaimer: I don't do birds or other wildlife. My focal lengths go to 600mm without converters. With a converter I use two tripods.

 

wim

Sensible advice ' My advice would be: buy the cheapest used monopod in the neighborhood (Craigslist / Ebay/ yard sale) and see what works for you. Many times I don't even unlock the ball head, because tilting the monopod is enough.'

 

Many thanks wim, for taking the time to complie such a comprehensive, detailed list.  I will look into each and all of the above suggestions/options and hopefully be able to decide on something.  If I remember, I will return and report back.

 

Thanks again everyone, saved me from making a mistake with the wrong purchase.

Helen

 

 

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In my own experience, I never got on with tripods for birds. I tried one, then after 15 minutes I was up and fetching my monopod. I needed the tilt ability of the mono.  Birds quickly move all over the place.  A monopod by itself gives easy movement, paired with the right head it’s a win/win. Good luck finding the right head. I tried several, but always went back to the one I could squeeze quickly to move around.

And no, it doesn’t take three hands. One hand on the camera, ready to shoot, one hand on the part of the head I squeezed, none on the monopod.

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The Wimberley is a monopod head, not a tripod. The link wasn't working so I've corrected it. By adjusting the drag you can set it to exactly balance the camera/lens, but can still tilt up/down without adjusting anything. Rotational movement is accomplished by simply rotating the monopod. Thus it's easy to move up/down left right with one hand on the camera and shutter the other on the monopod.

 

Russell

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Posted (edited)
57 minutes ago, Russell said:

You might like to look at the Wimberley: https://www.tripodhead.com/products/monopodhead-main.cfm

 

I've used one with my 100-400 for a couple of year. It works really well for birds in flight and other wildlife.

 

Russell

Thanks Russell I will check that link.  Looks like I have a bit of research to do now.  I will look at all suggestions and options. 

 

 

The Wimberley is a monopod head, not a tripod. The link wasn't working so I've corrected it. By adjusting the drag you can set it to exactly balance the camera/lens, but can still tilt up/down without adjusting anything. Rotational movement is accomplished by simply rotating the monopod. Thus it's easy to move up/down left right with one hand on the camera and shutter the other on the monopod.

 

Russell

 

Thanks for the clarification and your input,

 

28 minutes ago, Betty LaRue said:

In my own experience, I never got on with tripods for birds. I tried one, then after 15 minutes I was up and fetching my monopod. I needed the tilt ability of the mono.

 

I feel the same about tripods, so I am holding off for now. 

 

Helen

Edited by hsessions
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2 hours ago, hsessions said:

Phil if I may ask are you using a long lens on yours?  Birding?  Wildlife? And once set up do you find you the counterbalance work well enough or do you still have to fiddle with knobs everytime to secure everything?

 

It's for wildlife - birds or large insects, dragonflies etc. with various lenses. It's a very simple setup, just the tripod and the fluid pan/tilt head without the arm. I use it so I don't have to lock/unlock every time. The head is stiff enough to stop unwanted movement but flexible enough to allow the camera to move if I want it to. A monopod's never going to give total stability but to limit camera movement and take the weight of the lens I find this works really well.

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For a while in my sport shooting days I used a tilt head (https://www.manfrotto.com/uk-en/monopod-tilt-head-234/) with a monopod, I get most of the other movement without a head. I actually stopped using even that simple tilt-head because I only ever used the monopod with long lenses that had their own rotating tripod mount.

 

Since digital, especially like Betty since going Fuji, and less long lens sport shooting I hardly use a monopod at all. In my later sports shooting days it was mostly basketball, too fast and unpredictable for a monopod. It was mostly shot close up under the basket as well, only very occasional down court shots.

Edited by Martin P Wilson
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