Monopods are devices used by photographers to stabilize the camera. When shooting in low light condition the cameras shutter needs to be kept open for a longer period of time. When this period of time is long enough for motion to happen the motion will come on the photo thus taken. This motion some times is a useful element in the photograph but mostly it is unwanted. This motion is referred to as blur. The motion can be due to two reasons, one being that the people or object being photographed exhibits motion or the second and the preventable being that the camera or the person holding the camera has motion.This motion can be due to many reasons. Human body is not a rigid object in different climates it has different amount of inherent motion. A tripod is a standard solution to this problem but not an easy one. The tripod is cumbersome to setup and adjust. It is also difficult and heavy to carry around , here comes the single legged monopod being light , easy to carry and most importantly easy to set up. The monopod has its limitation though being that it does not provide the stability a tripod does and in very low light condition monopodes are not of much use.The most common type of monopods have a telescopic body that can be extended as required. They mostly have the range of 150 -180 centimeters maximum range. The minimum height is usually in the range of 50 -70 centimeters. The picture shows a velbon model.
The telescopic body has either a twist and lock mechanism or a push lock mechanism. The push lock mechanism is usually easier to assemble and quicker. There are models with three part bodies where the last two parts have push lock and the top most part being a spring-ed push lock. This enables the photographer to adjust the height while he is looking through the camera itself. This is useful because mostly adjustments are needed while we are shooting.There are more expensive models that are made of carbon fiber as expected they are more expensive but they are also very much lighter. There are models with a tilt meter (buble meter) on them to show the exact tilt of the monopod, this is not a very interesting feature because a photographer will never get time to look at that and take pictures.The quality of the base shoe is some thing to be careful about when buying a monopod because that is the part which is subjected to most wear and tear. Rubber is good but quality of rubber should be high. Best bet is to get a monopod with metallic shoes.A similar device used by bird watchers exist they use it to hold their heavy binoculars or telescopes. It is called a finnstick, some are self made but there are companies manufacturing the same also.How to use one ?Figure one shows the monopod in red and the legs in black, this positions is like the tripods position but because of the shape and structure of the monopod this turns out to be a very weak and unstable position.For optimum use of this position keep the monopod at approximately a 20 degree angle. Using the ball head, the camera can be positioned vertically as well as horizontally. Bring the camera as close to your chest as possible and tuck your elbows as close to the side of your body as possible. With your left hand, hold the top of the monopod and the bottom of the camera and exert gentle pressure down the length of the monopod. This will stabilize the monopod so that the leg don’t slip on the ground as well as moving forward.Figure two displays the left foot forward and the right foot back in black color. The red circle indicates the position of the bottom of the monopod leg. Option 2 is based on a right handed person. Reverse the position by having the left foot in front if needed. Option 2 is a very stable position with the left foot forward and the right foot in back. The left foot is not faced perfectly forward as the foot is approximately 10 degrees off of facing forward. The right foot is almost parallel to the left foot. It does not matter if the left foot faces forward and the right foot is at 90 degrees to the right foot. The important element is that your body is perfectly stable and does not lean from side to side of from front to back. The left leg is slightly bent. Practice this position without the monopod to decide on the exact position of the right and the left foot. This can be a very useful position which is stable so practise it to perfection.
Figure three displays the left foot and the right foot in black color. The red circle indicates the position of the bottom of the monopod leg. Option 2 is based on a right handed person. Reverse the position by having the left foot in front if needed. The left and the right foot may either be parallel to each other or both feet may be slightly opened to a 10 degree angle. Practice this position without the monopod to decide on the exact position of the right and the left foot. This too is a very stable position and can be used for getting exceptionally good results.Using a monopod does take practice and patience but once mastered this can be a very handy tool to have while photographing. Apart from stability this can also help in reducing the load of a heavy camera on the photographer. If money is not a barrier it is advised to get a carbon fiber monopod with spring push mechanism as this will be light and very convenient to use. There are a wide variety of monopods available in the market so do look around and try a few before you decide. The maximum range can be an important factor.