More On Monopods or Not Monopods « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

More On Monopods or Not Monopods

What’s Up?

The webinar is today — Wednesday 13 July 2022 — at 4pm eastern time. The details are immediately below. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about ninety minutes to prepare and makes one hundred fifteen days in a row with a new one.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

The One Big Secret to Making Great Bird Photographs
With Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART — Free NANPA Webinar

Yes, boys and girls. There really is just one big secret. It will be revealed at the very end of the webinar. Join me on July 13 from 4:00 to 5:00 pm EDT to learn a ton. Click here to register. This program is free and open to all. Covered topics will include seeing the shot, finding the best perspective, getting close to free and wild birds, the importance of wind direction in bird photography, understanding the direction and qualities of natural light, flight photography tips, getting the right exposure, image composition and design, and lots more.


Follow me on Instagram here. I am trying to feature both new and old images, especially images that have not appeared recently on the blog. Or search for birds_as_art.

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes the insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906.

Please Remember

You can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords, is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great, and greatly appreciated, if you would opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to earn 3% cash back at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout for your major gear purchases. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

Brand-New and As-Good-As-Ever Bedfords BAA Discount Policy

Folks who have fallen in love with Bedfords can now use the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout to enjoy a post-purchase, 3% off-statement credit (excluding taxes and shipping charges) on orders paid with a credit card. The 3% credit will be refunded to the card you used for your purchase. Be sure, also, to check the box for free shipping to enjoy free Second Day Air Fed-Ex. This offer does not apply to purchases of Classes, Gift Cards, or to any prior purchases.

Money Saving Reminder

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Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. If you are desperate, you can try me on my cell at 863-221-2372. Please leave a message and shoot me a text if I do not pick up.

This image was created on 12 July 2022 on the pier at the lake near my home. I used the Robus RCM-439 4-Section Carbon Fiber Monopod, 65/Wimberley MonoGimbal Head-supported Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). The exposure was determined accurately using Zebra technology. ISO 800. 1/640 sec. at f/8 (stopped down one stop) in Manual mode. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be perfect. AWB at 6:48:17am on a then-sunny morning.

Tracking: Upper Left Zone/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye detection enabled performed perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Great Blue Heron adult preening neck

Image Design Question

Should I have cropped this to a vertical? Why or why not?

Smart Folks

Kudos to Bob Peterson who left this comment at yesterday’s post:

As to tilting the monopod, that keeps the center of gravity of the camera over the foot. If you drop a plumb line from the camera to the ground, that is where the foot of the monopod should be. Bob

His motion was seconded by the immensely talented Tony Whitehead (NZ).

Agree – The tilt puts centre of mass over monopod tip.

More On Monopods

Here are some facts, “artie-facts” if you would. (Thanks, Gil.)

1- A tripod will always be more stable than a monopod.

2- When seated, using the knee-pod technique is more stable than using a shortened monopod.

3- When using a monopod to keep your lens on this or that subject for extended periods, the monopod supports the weight of your lens and camera body. Note, however, that fatigue will become a serious factor over time as it requires some effort on your part to stabilize the rig, to keep the monopod in the same spot. Lactic acid will build up, especially in your left arm. With a tripod the three legs provide the support needed to keep the lens in the exact same spot with no effort required on your part.

4- You cannot shoot at ground level with a monopod.

5- Unlike a tripod, you cannot use your monopod as a clothes horse on which to hang your vest. In the same vein, simple tasks that are easily done when working on a tripod are much more difficult to execute when working on a monopod. These tasks including adding or removing teleconverters, switching cards, or changing a battery. Why? You need to hold the monopod. You do not need to hold a tripod.

6- If you are doing flight photography at the beach with the monopod and you want to switch to the knee-pod technique, where do you put the monopod?

7- If you are close to your vehicle and waiting for action in an otherwise static situation, say at an eagle or Osprey nest, for example, choosing a monopod over a tripod is insanity.

8- Blog regular Adam posted this comment yesterday: I returned to the redtail nest the next day with a big lens and a monopod — I didn’t want to drag the tripod through the overgrown field. I regretted every moment of as one of the fledglings kept making high speed passes at me; tracking the bird was problematic with the lens on the monopod. Once I went to handholding, there was no problem keeping the bird in the viewfinder.

Adam is 100% correct. But. Providing you can handhold a big lens or an intermediate telephoto lens for that matter, for short periods of time, most folks will generally do a lot better handholding than working off a monopod or a tripod. But, here are the buts:

a- many folks including me are not capable of handholding a 600mm f/4 lens, even the latest greatest lightest versions.

b- for most folks, including all mortals, handholding a big lens for extended shooting sessions is simply not possible.

9- Here is the great news. I have developed a new technique for shooting flight with big glass on a monopod. It’s like handholding with the lens on a sky hook. It is much easier to shoot flight off the monopod using this method than it is when working off a tripod. At places like Jacksonville, where the flight photography is nonstop, but you want and need to be light and mobile, this new technique will be a Godsend. I can’t wait to try it on the IPT that begins this weekend. I will be doing a video revealing this technique and additional monopod/monoball tidbits in a week or two. Folks who purchase a Robus RCM-439 4-Section Carbon Fiber Monopod, 65 using the B&H link and a Wimberley MonoGimbal Head from the BAA Online Store will receive the Monopod/Monoball Video for free by providing the receipts. Otherwise, the cost of this short video will be $37.00. To complain about the cost, please shoot an e-mail to Stay tuned.

10- A slight revision: when walking a distance, I simply point the lens at the ground (rather than the sky), tighten the locking knob, and hold the rig with either hand with the rig hanging below the monopod. This prevents the lens from smacking into your leg with every step and places zero stress on your shoulder.

11- Folks who work with intermediate telephoto lenses who walk and stalk and point and shoot (can you say warblers and songbirds?) and have trouble with the weight of their rigs, may very well do much better with a monopod that with straight handholding. They too will benefit from the information in the Monopod/Monoball Video. (Thanks to Roger Smith whose comment led to item #11.)

12- I have removed the hand strap from my Robus RCM-439 4-Section Carbon Fiber Monopod, 65 because I have no use for it and it occasionally gets in the way. On a related note, if you have a camera strap on your camera body when using any telephoto lens, ditch it fast.

13- Another slight revision: when doing pure flight, I lengthen the monopod so that the viewfinder is right at eye-level.

14- The Robus RCM-439 4-Section Carbon Fiber Monopod, 65 is 65 inches tall. It should be good for flight for folks as tall as about 6-foot 1 or 2 inches tall. The only viable option that I can find is the Gitzo GM4552L Series 4 Carbon Fiber Monopod. At nearly 75 inches tall, this one would work for flight for all but the very tallest NBA players, those over 7-foot 1 or 2 inches tall. It is, however, a Series 4 model that weighs 1.6 pounds, 1/2-pound heavier than the recommended Robus model. And it cost $300.88 more than the RCM-439 4.

In My Opinion

In my opinion, purchasing a monopod stand (stabilizing base) makes no sense at all.

I-Phone 11 Image

Great Blue Heron adult on pier railing

Monopod Calming Effect?

One thing seems perfectly clear to me, approaching a bird is a lot easier with a monopod-mounted lens than it is with a tripod-mounted lens. Most of the Great Blue Herons that sit on the pier railings do not allow a close approach. They tend to fly off when you are a mile away. Perhaps the monopod/monoball combo is having some sort of tranquilizing effect on the birds at ILE.

The Situation

When I created today’s featured image, I was only 16.7 meters (54.8 feet) from the bird. Note the Great Egret in the distance on the righthand railing. Note, also, the single piling sticking out of the water on the right side of the pier (plus another one just breaking the surface). Before the heavy rains of the last two weeks, there were about a dozen short pilings sticking out of the water, perfect fishing perches for the Green Herons.

Situation Question

Why did I want to be a far to the right as possible?


With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

12 comments to More On Monopods or Not Monopods

  • Astyork

    Thank you for another informative and thought-provoking post on monopods! Your in-depth exploration of the topic provides valuable insights for photographers at all skill levels. I appreciate your dedication to sharing your knowledge and experience to help others improve their craft.

  • I fully agree, whenever possible, use a tripod over a monopod. But, I ate my own words last year when I was at Grand Teton imaging Bald Eagles. The best eagle of view was from a VERY THICK Cotton Wood thicket, making a tripod useless. So, in I go with a monopod and I virtually created my own “tripod” with the monopod and propped among the young trees. My friend thought it so funny that he did a snapshot”:

    /Users/robertcharlesturner/Desktop/Bob at Snake River, Grand Teton.jpg

    And here’s the shot of the Bald Eagles I captured:

    /Users/robertcharlesturner/Desktop/American Bald Eagles.jpg

    Therefore, I keep a monopod handy for those times where they help get the job done.


    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for e-mailing the photos to me. It is not possible to include photos with a comment. Even I cannot do that 🙂

      I agree with you 100% — there would be no getting a tripod into that thicket.

      with love, artie

      ps: if you like eagles, do consider one or all of the Homer IPTs as featured in Thursday’s blog post.

  • Jeff Walters

    Artie I have a possible monopod tip for you. If you have or buy a sturdy so-called bun pack, where it in front. You can then use your monopod without fully extending it by resting the foot on top of the bun pack or by opening the zipper and placing the foot inside the bun pack. Works pretty well for me and I’ve often thought about getting a fisherman’s belt that supports the rod while fighting a fish and use that to support my monopod.

    The link is for one on Amazon that is under 20 bucks.

    If you try either of these please let me/us know how it works out for you. Maybe your blog folks can comment if they have tried anything similar or if they have given it a try.

    I like to keep my camera strap on & around my neck incase it ever slips I still have solid control of my rig/gear. God Bless, love green herons.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Jeff.

      More than 30 years ago I went around with two of the legs of my $65 Slik U-212 tripod stuck into one of the pockets of my dungarees. And I used to fish a lot so I am familiar with the concept. The idea is similar.

      It does not, however, do anything to reduce human sway 🙂

      with love, artie

      • Jeff Walters

        Just imagine holding your dear, one of a kind wife up close. Where the sway slows and you don’t even notice that the music has stopped. Did she like to go dancing? Wide shoes like New Balance might help a little bit. My dad’s in his eighties and he sways some as well. I know you’ve had back surgery, I’ve got a bad back & have had a full hip replacement & have found light so-called dead lifts seems to help my posture & balance. Strengthens the whole posterior chain. I bought a trap bar that weighs 45 lbs & put a 25 lb weight on each side to start. (but just the bar and or lighter weight would certainly work). Just picking it up and standing tall, tightening glutes, pushing hips forward is a great exercise for strength, posture & balance. Just stay light it’s not about Mr. America, just getting & maintaining good strength & balance for your age. Keeping good form with spine will keep you injury free. Always, if you choose to add this to your health routine start light, and learn to keep excellent form. You may just surprise yourself. I know you walk & swim, slight strength training may just be your ticket.
        God Bless, Jeff
        Got my trap bar at Titan Fitness for about $140.00 free shipping. Nothing fancy.

  • Veit Irtenkauf

    As Gary said, better sun angle. Also better angle at the heron’s preening action?

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      No, as I said to David, the bird kept his head angled away from me most of the time.

      with love, artie

      ps: where do you live?

  • David Policansky

    What Gary Prestash said. But the bird’s head angle might not have been quite as good directly on sun angle.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Yes, David, But this bird spent most of its time facing just a bit away from me, no matter where I stood :). I deleted dozens with his head turned only slightly away from me.

      with love, artie

  • Gary Prestash

    I suspect wanted to get as far to the right as possible to get more in line with the sun on the bird.

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