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Monopod for hand shake?

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by cwilt, Aug 29, 2005.

  1. cwilt


    Apr 24, 2005
    Denver, CO
    Will a monopod with proper technique reduce hand shake? I ask this this because you must still hold it with your hands. If so what is the proper method?
  2. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I think it helps because it should pretty much eliminate up/down movement even if directional movement is still possible. The longer/heavier the lens the more difference it makes. For instance my brief experimentation with hand-holding the 200-400vr made clear that while I am physically strong enough to hand-hold it, I can't hold it steady enough to precisely frame a shot consistently on the long end. Even with the 70-200vr I think I get better shots with monopod compared to hand-holding, especially if using flash and bracket.

    Here's an article that discusses monopod technique. I find that "option 2" works best for me (though you really need some type of tilt head to make this work).

  3. I can shoot with my 70-200 at 200 and the 2x teleconverter on a monopod, but I will be darned if I can shoot with shorter lenses with one. I think I need the longer lens as a lever to prevent rotation.

    I tend to poke the monopod out ahead of me a bit, and lean into it.
  4. jb007

    jb007 Guest

    'pods rule - for D2x especially

    A monopod if used appropiately offers up to 2 stops of additional exposure - ie about the same as VR is claimed to do. The focal length of the lens in and of itself shouldn't make any substantial difference. I use a monopod with a D2x most of the time, where it wasn't as necessary with D2h or D70 bodies - the "x" with it's smaller pixel size and higher resolution shows camera motion (camera shake) more than any other dSLR I've used. In particular hyperfocal landscape shots need either a monopod or preferably a tripod with mirror lock-up and other "care" taken. Have you any particular reason for asking?
  5. cwilt


    Apr 24, 2005
    Denver, CO
    I asked for the reasons you stated. No matter what hand held technique I use there is still camera shake. I do a lot of heavy lifting during the day and when I grab a camera I can see the muscle twitch in the viewfinder. VR is nice but bulky and I still prefer primes for image quality.

    I will dust off the monopod and see what happens.
  6. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    I found that for whatever reason, camera shake had become an issue for me. With lot's of concentration, and trying the best I could, some shots were fine, but that certainly meant that I was losing those where I didn't have the time to "hold steady enough". So, I went the VR route because the sacrifice in lens speed (except for the 70-200VR/f2.8) and the "theoretical" differences in lens quality (I can't see it with my naked eye on my shots) were a trade-off for having nearly all my shots be virtually free of camera shake. I found the difference to be significant for me, and I am able to get many shots that I could not before.
  7. All I can do is wish you good luck with the monopod. I personally have never had good luck with them and find them to be more trouble than they are worth. Some of this may be the poor head I am using with it. I like the VR on my 70-200mm lens and get excellent results with it.
  8. bfjr

    bfjr Guest

    Here's my 2 cents
    I do not as yet own a VR lens at all.

    I use a Monopod every time I shot no matter the situation, occasionally I've missed shots because of it but rarely.

    As soon as I can afford a proper tripod/head combo I will use it all the time. I have seen the difference between support and no support and as far as I'm concerned it's worth the extra $$ and effort to always use support when shooting.
  9. cwilt


    Apr 24, 2005
    Denver, CO
    Ken and Gordon,

    The VR is nice but they (24-120 and 70-200) are soft wide open. I would guess that 90% of my shots are nearly wide open for thin DOF. The 24-120 is to slow for this type of shooting and needs to be stopped down for sharpness. I will test the 70-200 and see where contrast comes up but I would guess f4 or f5.6. From the wide open shots I have taken so far, the 105/2 and 180/2.8 both easily outperform the 70-200vr on a D2x.

    I better put on the flame retardant bullet proof vest after making that statement. :eek: 

    My favorite kit is all primes, small and light. Problem is my hand shake. If I add a tripod I am back to the same weight as my fast zoom/vr kit. Trying to get shots of my kids while using a tripod is :eek: .
  10. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    *My* 70-200VR is Not soft wide open!

    Sorry, but I completely disagree with you on that soft at wide open statement.
    To wit: (on tripod, VR off)
  11. My longest lens is only 300mm but I seem to be able to handhold it successfully while shooting birdies outdoors. When I attach my 1.4x, I still can achieve some success handheld but prefer to also shoot with my monopod. It seems that, for me, my posed bird shots with a monopod are far better than without. I don't seem to be as "good" at birds in flight when using my monopod so I'll resort to handholding those. I just always try to make sure my shutter speed is sufficiently high enough. So far this works for me.
  12. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  13. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Charles :

    The monopod helps, but does not remove shake. A tripod does a better job, and a tripod with camera mirror-lockup and delayed shutter does a heckuva lot better. Monopod use is highly individual, as some folks can steady the 'pod beautifully, while others cannot.

    If you're working with longer lenses, a steady monopod will allow for anywhere from one to two stops of "steadiness" or a corresponding shutter speed difference. There's some correlation with both the head used on the 'pod as well as the method of steadying the 'pod.

    I shoot a lot handheld, followed by monopod, followed by tripod, as I can't bring a lot of gear with me in my travels. I'll use the Wimberley "Big Head" with my monopod and tripod alike, as the Big Head gives me a lot more control, or so I like to think.

    Monopods are, for the most part, more portable than tripods. I haul my big glass around on a monopod slung over a shoulder regularly. My tripod's just not as user-friendly with respect to my shoulders.

    As for methods for the monopod, I've used the "prop the monopod in front of me with my weight bearing on it for steadiness", the "lean the monopod against me with the weight of the lens and body", and the "grind the monopod spike into the ground and cradle the camera and lens" with varying degrees of success based on the needs of the moment of shooting.

    Flew has a remarkable strap arrangement for his monopod, and hopefully we can get him to provide some shots or a URL. Oh, Flew ??? :rolleyes: 

    Maybe just a little suntan lotion to avoid some glare, I'd say... :Crunk: :Curved: :Crunk:

    As for the performance of the primes you mention wide open against the 70-200mm AFS/VR, that's a pretty much open debate for various conditions. The debate about zooms and primes has raged for a very very long time, after all. Certainly, the 70-200mm isn't quite as sharp at the extremes as the best primes - an inherent advantage of primes - but IMHO based on shooting with all three lenses discussed, the differences were not large in the lenses I shot with (see below for more on this), and the inherent flexibility of the zoom function has to be considered. One could also complain that the 180mm f/2.8 can't shoot with as wide a FOV at closer ranges as can the 70-200mm (which is not a fair comparison either).

    As well - and this is probably much more to the issue at hand - there is still a lot more variation in the quality of lenses, zoom or prime, than the manufacturers want to admit. I've handled lenses which type has been lauded or raved over without seeing quite the performance advertised, which could also be caused by my lack of experience with the lens or generally not shooting as well as some other people - my issues and not those of the lens. Bjørn Rørslett has commented several times quite insightfully about how so many people seem to substitute the idea of lens performance for good photographic technique, and although I likely have more lenses than I truly need in a strict review sense, I'd still concur with Bjørn's comments. I've certainly proven that to myself on a number of occasions with poor shooting through no fault of the equipment !!! :Angry: :D izzy: :Angry:

    And the 105mm f/2 DC is quite frankly in a very exclusive class of clarity as a Nikon prime shot wide open, a class including the 85mm f/1.4, the 58mm f/1.2 and the 28mm f/1.4, but few others.

    John P.
  14. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  15. cwilt


    Apr 24, 2005
    Denver, CO

    No offense is meant by this, but have you shot a 180 wide open to compare the 70-200vr to? I have not had the 70-200vr very long so maybe I am missing something in my use of VR. I can see the differnce in sharpness and contrast between the two when shot wide open.
  16. twig


    May 23, 2005

    In my opinion, the 70-200 is not super sharp wide open. I had a particularly good sample and still it is no match fo rthe 400 or 300/2.8 wide open. Now to expect it to be as good as a prime at 5X the cost is silly of course, but to think that the 70-200VR is the penultimate of sharpness is to be off base. It is VERY sharp for a zoom and quite sharp wide open, but it improves significantly at f/4 and is not as impressive wide open as some other more exotic lenses.

    I still wouldn't take a non AF-S prime lens in the range, but I am trying out a Sigma 120-300 to compare.

    I never thought this until I covered events with both lenses (70-200 & 400) then looked at my pics and was shocked at what "razor sharp wide open" really means.
  17. cwilt


    Apr 24, 2005
    Denver, CO
    150 proof sun block applied :smile:

    Maybe my issue with the 70-200 is that I have some nice primes to compare it to.
  18. Rob


    Jul 28, 2005
    Truro, Cornwall, UK
    Before the sado masso's get into full swing and the whole thread disappears in flames..
    May I recommend Pro-strap. I use one of their wriststraps with my basic freeby monopod. It ensures the camera will not fall, the monopod is easily lifted and moved, yet the whole package is stable. I find that a neck strap wrapped around me and attached to a pod ends up in a snarl.


    Now back to the BDSM. :eek:  :eek:  :eek: 
  19. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    I have to ask, what exactly are you shooting,

    that you have to have this ultimate razor sharpness? Of course, I would never, ever attempt to argue that my, or anyone's 70-200VR, shot wide open, is as sharp as my 28 1.4 or 85 1.4. But man, can you tell me what you are shooting that you needing this ultimate sharpness for? I would argue that if it's for people shots, that degree of sharpness is not really needed. Afterall, who wants to count a person's facial pores at 100% magnification? :confused: 
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