Monopod vs Tripod: Why, When and How to Use It

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Monopod Vs tripod. Sounds like a battle royale between tripod legs.

Or a three-legged robot Vs a one-legged robot.

Here’s the thing. A tripod doesn’t replace a monopod and vice versa because they have different uses.

Do you want to take clearer, better, sharper photos?

Easy! You can use a tripod or a monopod. In some cases, you can use BOTH.

WHY, WHEN, and HOW do you use these? Stick around and find out!

Amazon Basics Lightweight Camera Mount Tripod Stand With Bag - 16.5 - 50 Inches

Amazon Basics 67-Inch Monopod

Tripods and Monopods: Why You Need Them

Different photographers will have different photography needs. Monopods and tripods BOTH offer camera support instead of shooting handheld.

This is why you can’t compare them side by side.

The REAL REASON why you need them for your shots is Stability. You need a stable anchor for your camera for different shooting styles.

There’s no way you’re going to hold a camera still for that long in your hands.

The question is…what kind of photographer are you?

Are you a sports photographer? A landscape photographer? Are you both?

That will answer the NEED for a…tripod Vs monopod.

Monopod Vs Tripod: What’s the Difference?

The obvious difference between tripod vs monopod is the number of legs and the weight.

Despite this difference, they share a common goal: reducing camera shake.

Both monopods and tripods need compatible heads with twist locks for smoother motion.

Photographers use a ball head or gimbal head for more range of motion. The other types of heads include the fluid head and the pan and tilt head.

So, how do you use this cool photography gear? Which situations should you use them?

We’ll get to that in a minute, hang in there!

Since most of us have an idea of what a tripod is, let’s start with tripods!

Tripods

A tripod is a three-legged device designed for the stable camera and lens support. This can be particularly used when you’re using certain camera settings.

It gives you added stability when working with SLOW SHUTTER SPEEDS.

This is important for long exposure times while stationed in one location.

A slower shutter speed is also sometimes referred to as a LONG EXPOSURE. This setting allows more light into the camera.

But, camera shake can be a real problem. Now, this is where tripods come in HANDY because of their stability.

Tripod Vs Monopod: When and How Do You Use a Tripod?

You’ll know it’s time for a tripod when you’re taking photos with a handheld camera and your photos are blurry. Sometimes using a handheld camera won’t cut it.

If you want SUPER sharp images then you’ll definitely need a tripod.

You need a tripod for stability. There are situations when you need cameras to STAY STILL while taking that shot.

If you are a studio photographer, and you shoot still life or macro, there’s no doubt you have to use a tripod.

If you see a photographer with a tripod, it means he knows what he’s doing.

Here are different situations that call for the use of a tripod:

Low Light Situations

There’s plenty of magic to capture from dusk till dawn. Yet, after dark isn’t the only time you can encounter dim lighting and need a tripod.

Low light situations also happen inside buildings.

Sometimes on narrow streets between buildings where there’s minimal sunlight.

You’re going to need a tripod to keep your camera steady for the right exposure when the shutter is open longer.

You can make time lapses with a tripod whether you’re in a bustling city or an isolated landscape.

Using a tripod also helps to capture light penetrating certain places or situations. Like thick forests, cloud-covered skies, and storms.

Yes, even smoke from bushfires.

Long Exposures

For long exposures using a monopod will not make sense at all. You would have to stand and hold the camera completely still to get that shot.

For nighttime photography, you have to stay STILL.

For a LONG time.

A tripod is an essential tool if you’re serious about long exposure photography.

With a tripod, you can use a small aperture while allowing the right amount of light into the camera’s sensor. It creates sharp photos combined with motion blur and captures surreal images.

Motion blur from moving objects like cars, trains, and city lights takes your photos to the next level.

Landscape Photography

Let’s say you want to take a waterfall photo.

The thing you want to achieve in a waterfall photo is to make the water appear blurry.

It gives the image a surreal quality which is popular with landscape photographers.

While it looks a little bit cliche, it still looks pretty cool. It’s quite easy to do with a slow shutter speed and, you guessed it, a tripod.

Your tripod helps you adjust the height, zoom settings, and angle that you want. While keeping cameras in a set position.

A tripod can achieve all this by remaining in one position for an extended amount of time.

Landscape photography requires tripods for:

  • Careful composition and framing
  • Stability
  • Slow shutter speed
  • Long exposure

Tripods are the only option for capturing the best hunting and landscape photography.

Macro Photography

In warmer months when butterflies come out, speed is of the essence in macro photography.

It’s challenging to capture these beautiful creatures.

Tripods help to keep you hands-free. You can make minor adjustments for small nudges that change your camera’s focus.

You need to prepare to increase your chances of that perfect shot.

Set up your camera on a tripod and pre-focus on the spot you expect them to land. For close-up shots of fungi, crawling insects, and leaves, you need to be creative.

A tripod with very small legs will do the job. It gets close to the ground level as much as possible.

Shooting at low angles and awkward spots gives you a new perspective.

Not all macro subjects are in easy to reach places.

Small tripods with a center column and ball head help. It makes your tripod more flexible and you can achieve other positions.

It makes it easy to move around horizontally or the opposite way.

It gets into those tight spots.

Still Life

Some people think that tripods aren’t necessary for portrait photography.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Tripods are an essential piece of equipment for this type of photography.

In studio photography, the eyes of the subject are important. This is your focal point.

With a tripod, you create direct eye contact with your subject by using the viewfinder. Aside from that, in studio photography, there’s a lot of adjusting.

You need quick mobility while moving the subject and adjusting lighting. A tripod makes a photographer’s life easier.

You can do all this without having to re-position the camera. Tripods do the job because the camera sits on a stationary base.

For those who travel alone, tripods are part of their travel gear. Self-portraits are possible with a tripod and remote. Not your usual selfie.

Tripod: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • It has STABLE camera support. How can you go wrong with three legs and rubber feet? It’s not going anywhere.
  • A tripod offers a variety of sizes and heads so you can find exactly what fits your needs.
  • It’s “self-supporting“. You can shoot long exposures by setting it up and leaving it to do its work.

Cons

  • Takes a bit of floor space and a tripping hazard considering there are three legs sticking out.
  • Weight is also a big factor, not to mention when it has a camera and lens attached.
  • Tripods are not suitable for action shots where you need to change locations fast.

Monopods

A monopod is collapsible camera support with a single leg. They come in different heights with collapsible sections. The more sections a monopod has, the smaller it is when collapsed.

It looks so cool!

Gives you that “I-know-what-I’m-doing” look.

Monopods are for when you’re ON THE MOVE. It’s for ACTION-type stuff. You’re not stuck in one location.

With a monopod, you can follow action faster. Pick it up and take more photos!

Image stabilization works like tucking elbows or steadying yourself against a wall. Any of them can reduce camera shake.

Some monopods have a miniature tripod base for more stability. But make sure not to make it stand by itself and risk your camera crashing to the floor.

Tripod Vs Monopod: When and How Do You Use A Monopod?

A monopod is a great counterbalance. If you have long lenses, you can take them with you and it’s easy to use.

Monopods are a better choice when it comes to taking shots of MOVING objects.

Here are situations that call for the use of a monopod:

Nature and Wildlife Photography

Wildlife photographers take beautiful photos as they pursue distant animals. They use big heavy cameras and lenses for the job.

A carbon fiber monopod helps cut down on the weight. It’s light and easier to move around over rocky unstable terrain.

Wildlife photographers LOVE it because it doubles as a support pole while hiking.

Using a monopod provides more wiggle room. You can shoot at a shutter speed that would give you a soft image.

Monopods are a great way to gain elevation too.

To give you a clear picture…

You’re at the zoo. It’s crowded. You need a clear view of a Snow Leopard.

How do you shoot?

SIMPLE.

Raise the monopod and make the shot over the heads of onlookers with a remote shutter release. DONE.

The same goes for shooting birds.

Let’s say the bird’s nest is nine feet up the tree. You can use a monopod and bring in the camera closer.

Without stressing the birds. Easy peasy.

Sports Photography

Running, race cars, biking, or horse racing.

These sports photography events can run several hours long.

And that is a LONG time to hold a heavy camera steady. Especially with those… LONG. HEAVY. BIG LENSES.

Monopods are not just for keeping your camera still during sports photography. They also work well for reducing muscle fatigue off your arms.

Unless your goal is to work out while holding a telephoto lens.

But if you’re a sports photographer, you need mobility. A monopod with a ball head will give you more control and a lot more movement. A tripod won’t cut it.

For sports photographers, this is HUGE.

Because a monopod gives them the freedom to…

… put the camera with a telephoto lens on their shoulder,

…run down the sidelines…and BAM!

READY for your next shot.

Events Photography

Events photographers are always on their feet capturing candid moments.

Some events won’t give you the time (or the space) to set up a tripod.

Let’s say you’re at a concert, or Comic-Con, for example. When you can’t get through the crowd, you can get CREATIVE with a monopod!

Hoist it up and take photos with a remote shutter!

You won’t be able to adjust the lens but you’ll get a different perspective. Angles you won’t normally achieve with a tripod.

Monopod: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Beneficial for your arms and back. Monopods weigh less than a third of a tripod.
  • Monopods take up a tiny inch of floor space compared to a tripod.
  • No issue with people tripping on monopod legs in busy venues
  • Monopods have quick release plates to remove or lock your camera can in seconds.
  • It has increased image stabilization for excellent depth of field. Give you a clean crisp foreground and background.
  • Creative videos are made with the help of monopods

Cons

  • Less stability than a tripod. The only way to use it is to hold it.
  • The constant monopod debate is that they could get tipped over easily.

Videography: Monopod Vs Tripod?

Sure, shooting video looks so much better when done on a tripod. It has a more professional look than a wobbly hand-held video that screams AMATEUR!

But, in recent years, that does not seem to be the case.

Events Videographers Will Tell You Otherwise

Getting those short b-roll type clips requires a LOT of movement. It helps make panning easier too!

That’s why you’ll see a LOT of videographers using a video monopod.

Having long lenses on a tripod just won’t cut it. WITH A MONOPOD, video possibilities are ENDLESS.

You can run around to a position and get a steady shot in SECONDS.

In a crowded area with no room to set up a tripod, you can raise the camera high while shooting from that angle.

Want to know another cool thing about it?

You can make videos while… riding in a moving car or a skateboard!

Just hold it upside down near the ground (make sure you have insurance) and shoot a video.

You can get creative as you can get with a video monopod.

Should You Use a Tripod Monopod Combination?

Let’s say you’ve got your heart set on a monopod. What do you do if you love doing different kinds of photography?

You love doing portraits, but you also love sports photography.

So the Question Is, Should You Buy a Tripod and a Monopod?

The answer is ABSOLUTELY yes.

They are both EXTREMELY useful accessories.

Tripod Tip: Get a tripod that has a detachable monopod leg that doubles as a monopod.

“WHAT? You mean I can ditch the two legs?” Yes.

WOAH.

This started as a novelty item for photographers.

But now it’s grown into a cost-effective modular system.

You get the benefits of both a monopod and tripod.

Minus the weight or hassle of two separate photography gear. This device COSTS LESS than those two gears.

A tiny drawback yet would be changing from monopod to tripod in a minute. But hey, at least you’re prepared to shoot in any situation.

When you’re done, just FOLD IT and call it a day. Awesome, right?

Conclusion

Tripods and monopods are completely different types of tools. So it’s not a matter of monopod vs tripod being more effective or less effective at the same job.

It’s rather a COMFORT issue depending on the situations you have to work with. Choose what works best for you.

You’re the only one who can figure out whether monopod vs tripod will make your photos stand out from the rest.

At the end of the day, the choice is up to you.

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