During the Memorial weekend, I took indoor photos of Vikas’ birthday party at Arnold’s with my 50mm lens on a tripod. These came out pretty well as you see the few samples here. Now, I knew I couldn’t carry my cheap Videocon tripod (cheap doesn’t matter, tripod does to a photo) everywhere. First of all, it doesn’t fit into a carry-on; so on my business travels I just have to leave it at home. So I thought about a monopod. After some research, I singled out the Manfrotto 680B Monopod Bundle With Manfrotto 234RC Top-Swivel 90 Degree Tilt Head with RC Plate (Was 3229). My thought was to get a good, portable monopod and totally do away with a tripod.
Very soon you realize a monopod is not even a close substitute for a tripod. You just can’t hold it still even with many recommended supportive standing positions. The base of this monopod is a rubber cap with a rounded bottom; this simple can’t give stability. You may be wondering why they don’t have a square block as a base, but not everywhere you will have a flat surface especially out in the wild.
So I was thinking of returning the monopod after this disappointment, but then came across the Manfrotto 678 Monopod Universal Folding Base (Black). This neatly folds into the hollow of the monopod itself so doesn’t add to the folded length. Neat, I thought! It isn’t inexpensive. I got the order the next day – courtesy Amazon.
Assembly was fairly easy, you just have to pull out the rubber base of the monopod, screw in a small extension tube, then insert the base with the folded legs into the hollow of the extension and tighten the screws. You can find pictures of the base on Amazon following the earlier link.
However, even with the base, the monopod wasn’t stable enough to my satisfaction. What happens is the housing, that you screw onto the monopod with threw small screws doesn’t sit smug onto the body. This makes for a very unstable base which holds all the weight of the monopod and the head. To bring more stability, you need to mount the spacer (part D) onto the monopod leaving about an inch or so of it showing. This is a bit of an effort as the spacer is a little less in diameter than the monopod’s body, but the spacer has a opening along its length, thus it is expandable in diameter. Now mounting the housing (part B) onto the spacer makes for a much, much stabler base. In the picture you can see the spacer (the aluminum part against the black monopod) mounted and the housing below onto top of it.
Below, you will see sample of pictures taken from my Canon XS Rebel with my 75-300 (non IS) kit lens, hand-held (left) and mounted on the monopod with the base (right). These were at full zoom @ 300 mm, from a distance of about 18 feet in my family room, around 7 PM EST – so the sun was getting ready to set, and the light in the room was not at the brightest. These are not from the exact same spot, but gives you an idea what a difference the monopod with the base can make.
Need to test the setup in a low light situation – waiting for a full moon or my next trip to Niagara Falls. One thing, right after you mount the lens on the monopod w/ base, you need to wait for some time till the vibrations introduced by the mounting itself settles down. I also used a remote release to reduce shake further.