The magic of the monopod.
You’ve seen them before. Watch any major sporting event and look at the sidelines. There they are. Rows and rows of those skinny little things just standing there. Not the cheerleaders, I’m talking monopods. Those sticks holding up those gigantic lenses used by the photographers. They help hold the lens in place allowing them make the fantastic photos that grace the covers of our sporting magazines. They are tools that, though not essential, are critical in making good photos into great photos.
The monopod is a common tool used by photographers to provide stability for making sharper images. A critical factor in a better picture is the sharpness of the subject and the overall image. This reduction in sharpness can be caused by a number of factors. If you your lens is out of focus the image will be soft. If the camera or the subject moves the image will have blur. Keeping the camera stable during shooting is necessary to getting a sharp image. The easiest way to achieve sharpness is to shoot a high shutter speed. A common rule of thumb is to never shoot hand held at a shutter speed number that is lower than the focal length of the lens. For example if you have a 200mm lens you would never shoot below 1/250th of a second. However, with today’s image stabilized cameras and lens, you can achieve a reasonable sharpness with shutter speeds up to three stops faster. For example, with a VR (Nikon) or IS (Canon) you can make the same image with a 200mm lens at 1/15th of a second. A stop is based on a mathematical equation of shutter speed versus aperture size. Every shutter stop is approximately doubled for each full stop of the aperture.
Anyways, the bottom line is a monopod is a nifty method of getting a stable camera to reduce camera shake. As the name implies, it has one leg versus a tripod, which has three legs. Tripods have greater stability to a monopod since they can stand on its own. They can be placed and aimed at the subject and left alone, whereas a monopod requires a person to hold it. A tripod can hold a significantly greater amount of weight also.
Well, why should I use a monopod? I don’t have any big lens I can hold them fine and the shutter speeds are high enough. There comes time when you are out and about and you need to make a photo in a dark room or a cloudy day. The light is not good enough to get the steadiness you need. Tada! The Monopod.Note, when shooting in very low shutter speeds, the monopod will help reduce camera shake, but will not stop subject blur. You may be able to get a steady image but if the subject is moving too fast they will still be blurry.