If you’ve gotten serious about photography and moved beyond the automatic settings on your camera, you might have already added a tripod to your toolkit. A tripod is a must if you’re taking longer exposure shots with a slow shutter speed, or just looking to get the sharpest photos possible, and they can quite literally help you take a load off if you’re regularly using long and heavy lenses. They aren’t ideal for every situation, however—you need enough room to set one up, for starters—which is where monopods come in.
A monopod won’t prop up your camera on its own like a tripod will (although some do have small legs or feet that fold out for added stability), but it will give you enough added support to give you most of the same benefits. And they outdo tripods considerably when it comes to flexibility, making them ideal whether you’re scrambling across uneven terrain to get the perfect shot, or trying to photograph a crowded event where tripods might not be permitted.
Here are some to consider adding to your travel kit.
Manfrotto’s tripods have been among the most-often recommended by photographers over the years, and the things are no different when it comes to the company’s monopods. On the more budget-friendly side of things, the Manfrotto’s standard Compact monopod might be all that you need if you’re just a casual photographer without a ton of gear that you’re lugging around. It can’t match pricier monopods when it comes to load capacity (it’s rated for just 3.3 pounds), but it’ll still easily support most average DSLRs and compact cameras, and extend to 57.3” to help you get the perfect shot.
Oben’s ACM-2400 monopod is among the best-rated models among B&H customers, and can be conveniently ordered in different configurations with optional legs and/or a tilt head for some added flexibility when shooting. It’s not the lightest option around at 1.65 pounds, but it will extend to a maximum height of 63.2″ and collapse down to a fairly portable 21.3,” while holding up to 26.5 pounds of camera gear when in use (which should easily be enough for most average photographers). A foam grip and a wrist strap will also help ensure that your valuable camera gear doesn’t slip out of your hands.
At fifty bucks, Manfrotto’s Element will hit the sweet spot between capability and affordability for a lot of photographers. The monopod itself is relatively lightweight at 1.1 pounds, and it’ll support just over 33 pounds of camera gear—which we’re guessing is more than most of you are carrying around on a regular basis. A simple twist-locking mechanism makes it easy to extend the monopod from the collapsed 16.3″ size to its full 59” length (or any height in between), while an interchangeable base lets you swap out the rubber foot for a spiked one as needed.
Aluminum monopods tend to be more affordable, but if you’re looking to get the tallest option that weighs the least—yet still offers ample support for your gear—you’ll have to pay a premium for a carbon fiber one. This six-section model from Sirui has a maximum height of 61.4” and a load capacity of 22 pounds, but weighs only 0.9 pounds and collapses to just 15.6″ in length, so it won’t add too much weight or bulk if you’re trying to keep an already hefty camera bag as manageable as possible. A fairly generous six-year warranty also offers some added piece of mind.
Vanguard VEO 2S AM-264TV
It comes with some added bulk compared to the other monopods on this list, but if you’re shooting as much video as still photography, you will likely find the trade-offs that come with this Vanguard monopod to be worth it. Three large feet get you about as close to tripod territory as you can in terms of stabilization, while a ball joint in the base offers some added flexibility, and a 2-way video head helps ensure you’re able to get smooth 360-degree pans.
Gitzo GM4562 Series 4
For pro photographers looking to make as few compromises as possible (and willing to pay a premium for it), this high-end monopod from Gitzo should tick all the right boxes. It’ll support a massive 66 pounds of gear and extend to a height of 60.6,” but it still weighs just 1.5 pounds itself and will collapse down to an easily manageable 17.3″ in length. Gitzo also promises that the monopod’s twist locks are resistant to dust, dirt, and moisture, making it ideal for use in harsher conditions, while a pivoting rubber foot (which can be swapped for other bases) will give you plenty of maneuverability while shooting.
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