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Do I have to use a ballhead w/monopod?

Discussion in 'Tripods, Ball Heads, and Gimbals' started by Steve S, Sep 1, 2005.

  1. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    As was mentioned in an earlier post, I'm going to the NHRA Nationals in Indy on Sat, and want to travel as light as possible. Given that my primary shooting position while using the monopod is going to be pretty constant, can't I take off my Markin's ballhead, and just screw the monopod directly onto the tripod foot of my 70-200VR, even though the mono's got a round top? Would that remain securely attached all day long? I mean doing it that way would save about 1 lb.
  2. gvk


    Jun 17, 2005
    Mystic, CT
    When shooting sports with my monopod, I usually use a Bogen/Manfrotto 3232 swivel instead of a ball head, but I sometimes just screw an RRS clamp directly to the monopod with the 70-200VR since the lens collar is used to change between landscape and portrait orientations. Direct connection to the monopod works fine as long as you don't have to tilt the lens axis much from horizontal.

    The only time I ever mount a ball head on the monopod is when using it as a support for close up work instead of a tripod since the ball head enables more flexible vertical orientation of the lens.
  3. I always use a ballhead on my monopod and find it essential (for me). I leave it on the monopod permanently (I have another 3-way adjust head on my tripod).
    It facilitates quick repositioning of the camera vs. monopod angle, which is often necessary due to angle of shoot, uneven support (ground) etc. I can make quick adjusts without even taking my eye from the viewfinder. Direct connects will make for some very awkward and uncomfortable positioning.
    Again, just my personal opinion and experience.
  4. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I agree. Keep in mind there's an optimal angle for using the monopod as support, if you have to lean it way over to get the desired shooting angle you might as well shoot handheld because the monopod isn't going to do much good unless it's actually bearing the weight of the camera rig.

    IMHO the 3232 is good enough for up to the 70-200vr. I used it for about a year and really liked it. Unfortunately it's only rated for about 6lbs and just isn't big enough for the long glass. Once I got the 200-400vr I just couldn't use it any more, so my Markins M10L went on the monopod and I upgraded my tripod to the RRS BH-55.
  5. As with most things, a variety of answers and methods. Generally I use the Bogen method, with the 3232 which tilts in one direction only. I use this very successfully with my Sigma 500mm f4.5 HSM. I have tried to use a ballhead but found that, for me, it allowed too much flexibility in movement. This past weekend I shot with a 200-400 AFS VR which was rented and had no base plate so I just screwed the monopod directly to the tripod mount. I also shoot with the tripod collar a bit loose so that if I do need to tilt slightly to one side or the other it is very easy to level the camera. The downside of the "screw to the monopod" method is that you are limited as to how much you can tilt. If you look at my "Whale" thread in the Birds and Animal forum there are 2 images, the Seapland and the Cassins Auklet, where I handheld because of this. If I had either a ballhead or the 3232 mounted, I could have easily tilted while still using the monopod for support.

    So, I'm one more vote for the Bogen 3232, here is a link to the Really Right Stuff Tutorial for using the 3232. I have had no problem using this with heavier lenses, but the one caveat I would make is that the heavier the lens the more concious you want to be regarding tension. This applies to the ballhead as well.
  6. I've tried both and side with the 3232. With a ball head you have too many degrees of freedom...sort of like a socket wrench with two universal joints. With only six degrees of freedom available, a solid mounted monopod gives you four already (right-left, up-down, fwd-back, and rotate about the vertical axis) With the 3232 you can get the remaining two. The only single advantage of the ball head is easier rotation about the axis between the subject and camera (clockwise-anti/counter clockwise, or more simply portrait/landscape).

    Hm.....six of one; a half-dozen of the other.

  7. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Maybe there's some product variance to take into consideration. I found that if I mounted D2x + 200-400vr + RRS Flash Bracket + SB-800, not matter how much I tightened down my 3232 I couldn't carry the rig over my shoulder without it slipping because the 3232 just wouldn't stay locked in place.
  8. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    For my seated shooting position

    I think going w/o any head will be fine. Afterall, I'm primarily going to be using the setup while I'm seated during the qualification runs. I only need to point it along the track's lateral axis. Besides, i can't get a Bogen 3232 in time for Sat anyway, unless I want to pay 35 for overnight shipping!
  9. fks


    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi steve-

    just use the tripod without any head. i've carried and used my 70-20mm VR+d2h in this way at several road races with no problems.

    i've tried it with a ballhead and it's more trouble than it's worth, plus it adds so much weight to my rig.

  10. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    Well, that's it then Ricky,

    Since I can't get that 3232 swivel thingie in time, I am going "au naturel" with the monopod. However, I did splurge today and got myself a Gitzo Mountaineer CF Monopod to lighten the load even further. :biggrin: I've had this pretty old Alum Bogen Mono for many, many yrs, and changing over to the Gitzo CF mono is going to further lighten the load by a fair amt. You have to bear in mind, wherever we decide to go on the grounds, that mono/D2X/70-200VR rig's gonna be slung over my shoulder. Probably not even taking any other lens, just the TC 1.4 in a fanny pack.
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