Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

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Ichthyophthirius
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Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by Ichthyophthirius »

Hi,

I have started using manual focus more when I'm out photographing insects (only up to 1:1; Sigma 105 mm macro, mostly just natural light). Now, framing and focussing are a bit too much for me to do handheld and I'm thinking about getting some support for my camera.

In particular, I'm thinking of situations where I remain in the same place and wait for insects to come to me, like in front of flowering bushes or pasture cowpads. My impression is that one of the flexible video monopods would be useful for that (like the Manfrotto XPro or a Sirui P-SR https://www.siruiusa.com/index/photogra ... id=3&id=13 ). They look sturdy enough to support my camera but still allow me to change locations quickly when I'm done in one spot. A drawback is that the monopods don't cover the useful height of 20-80 cm above ground, although I could exchange the central column for a shorter generic column for the days I want to work closer to the ground.

Does anyone have advice in this regard? Or should I go for a traditional (mini?) tripod instead?

Regards, Ichty

enricosavazzi
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Re: Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by enricosavazzi »

I try to avoid using either tripod or monopod as much as possible in the field. My favorite technique (which is nothing novel) is setting magnification with the focusing ring, stop down if necessary, then start at a distance slightly too far from the subject, move gradually toward the subject and trip the shutter when what matters most is in focus. An alternative is shooting a sequence while approaching the subject, then keep the best image(s).

I can see advantages and disadvantages with both a monopod and a tripod. A monopod is easier to put down in a cluttered place (e.g. bushes) and easily allows small changes of camera position, but is far less stable than a tripod, especially when shooting macro. A tripod is the most stable camera support that remains practical to use in the field, but adjusting the position of its feet among bushes or stones is often hopeless and frustrating. A tripod with an arm/boom at its top makes it easier to adjust the camera position, but is also less stable and more vibration prone. A mini tripod has the same problems as a normally-sized tripod, only magnified.
--ES

Beatsy
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Re: Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by Beatsy »

Purely my current preferences...

For 1:1 and closeup it's handheld. Always.

Higher mag, mostly MP-E 65 @ 2-3x it's a carbon travel monopod with added tilt head (borrowed from my 400mm setup). This is light enough to permit handheld but offers a stable-ish point when required. You don't get much movement range once you plant the foot but it doesn't take long to learn to put it in the ballpark quickly and fairly stealthily.

Edit. Forgot to mention the pod is 5 section telescopic so adjustable to all required heights (plus tilting to raise and lower).

Ichthyophthirius
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Re: Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by Ichthyophthirius »

Hi Enrico, Hi Beatsy,

Thank you for your input, that's very useful! I also use those handheld techniques when I'm walking around but it's too exhausting (especially on my eyes looking through the viewfinder) when I'm semi-stationary, like when I'm waiting for for a few minutes for insects to return to their natural behaviour. They eventually forget that I'm still there :wink:

@Beatsy Which carbon travel monopod are you using?

Regards, Ichty

Beatsy
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Re: Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by Beatsy »

Ichthyophthirius wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:32 am
@Beatsy Which carbon travel monopod are you using?
I use a Kirk MPA-2 Monopod Head (about £200 new) on a Gitzo GM2562T Series 2 Carbon eXact monopod (£150 2nd hand). The Kirk head was bought to use with a 400/2.8 prime (mainly sport, birds and wildlife), but it works well here too. Oh, and the pod is 6-section, not 5. I always forget the top and only count the extending bits.

Guido
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Re: Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by Guido »

I do use a tripod a lot for macro. Not always.
Free handed i like to use a flash with diffuser.
But resting the camera on the ground or beanbag or any other support helps.

One possible tripod method is: look for a popular flower. Place your tripod, prefocus and wait for visitors.

grgh
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Re: Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by grgh »

Working with Canon Eos 3, extra battery holder. then Canon Eos 10d with battery holder and grip.
carried over 7 years and always worked with a mono pod. Lake district, Scotland, fells and forestry country walks and commissioned work.
found that i could work with mono pod and my two legs standing, kneeling similar body and one leg raised, and i always carried a length of string with two loops in for my foot if needing to angle
the pod and wait out a shot.
when I got to old to carry the weight any more, resorted to using my IPhone.
This was a long while back now, it seems on reflection. Happy days though.
used to do astronomy.
and photography.
Zeiss Universal Phase contrast.
Zeiss PMII

MarkSturtevant
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Re: Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by MarkSturtevant »

I think about this a lot. Every choice you make toward solving an issue will not only help solve an issue but will also paint you in a corner and create new issues. It is ever thus.

Anyway, what I like is a monopod, and there are models that are very tall. I am sure you know the pros and cons of monopods versus tripods. I prefer flip out levers over the more common twist knobs to adjust height since the levers are faster. Finally, after messing around with this I've settled on resting the lens on a V-yoke on top rather than locking the camera down with a head. Although not as steady as a proper head, it has speed advantages and I now use two cameras in the field so for me it makes more sense. But if you are using one camera and one lens, I expect it makes more sense to use a tilt pan head for the monopod.
Mark Sturtevant
Dept. of Still Waters

Ichthyophthirius
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Re: Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by Ichthyophthirius »

Thank you all for your contributions which I keep reading with interest. The Y-joke looks interesting, never heard of that before but it makes total sense.

elf
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Re: Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by elf »

Somewhere in the archives is a post by LordV showing how he uses a pole or walking stick to stabilize the camera. He also has a Flickr account showing it.

Guido
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Re: Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by Guido »

elf wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 10:24 pm
Somewhere in the archives is a post by LordV showing how he uses a pole or walking stick to stabilize the camera. He also has a Flickr account showing it.

Indeed I use a nordic walking stick, this also helps!

kaleun96
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Re: Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by kaleun96 »

I've recently been trying a monopod but tucking it under my arm or having it push against my shoulder. It helps provide that third point of contact (two hands and the monopod foot) and I don't have to worry about adjusting the monopod length for the ground height. I've wanted to try the Manfrotto 361 shoulder brace for the same purpose but I think it's been discontinued so it's not as easily available these days.
- Cam

Beatsy
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Re: Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by Beatsy »

Hopefully, speculation isn't too far off-topic...

I'd like something like one of those gunstock camera holders, but with a modification. Squeezing the (long-travel) trigger slides the camera and lens smoothly forward on the mount while triggering the camera at regular intervals (preferably per unit of distance moved, but given human wobbliness, just firing the camera at a fixed rate would do too).

And in a related but never-will-be-implemented brainwave, it occurred to me that the accelerometers used to provide input for sensor stabilisation (e.g. IBIS in Sony cameras) could also be used to sense camera movement and trigger the shutter in the same way. No external hardware required. Sounds too good to be possible. Is it? If not, it would be a pretty simple add on device in principle. Don't you think?

elf
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Re: Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by elf »

Actually, a device like that would be rather simple to make. Just mount a Stackshot on a pistol grip :-k

Beatsy
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Location: Malvern, UK

Re: Would you recommend a tripod or monopod for macro in the field?

Post by Beatsy »

elf wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:40 am
Actually, a device like that would be rather simple to make. Just mount a Stackshot on a pistol grip :-k
Yes - I knocked-up something similar on a thin aluminium plate (with a WeMacro rail). Just a bodge to try it. Not quite what I'm after. I want the tactile physical connection between my finger and camera movement. I can easily co-ordinate pressing a shutter release at the same time (for continuous burst shooting at various rates) so it's very simple in principle and no extra batteries required.

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