Tripods have been sturdy companions for photographers all over the world. A good tripod can help you produce images that are simply not possible when shooting handheld. Unfortunately, tripods can be a bit of a pain to carry around, especially if they're any good. This is why, in many cases, a monopod ends up being a better option.
For certain types of photography, a tripod is indispensable. If you need your camera to be perfectly stable for a long exposure or if you're stacking images, then, of course, a tripod is definitely going to be the best tool. However, in most other situations, a tripod can be a little overkill. It's in these situations where a monopod can be a great step in between shooting handheld and shooting with a tripod.
The Size and Weight
The size and weight differences between a tripod and a monopod are the most obvious reason to pick one over the other. In general, a monopod is going to be significantly lighter and smaller than a tripod. Traveling with a monopod is far less of an issue than it can be when traveling with a tripod.
With so many photographers opting to move over to smaller and lighter cameras, large, bulky tripods may no longer be required. This is especially due to the fact that so many cameras now have built-in sensor stabilization. Additionally, optical stabilization in many lenses can work in accord with sensor stabilization. This means you have far fewer situations where you need a large tripod in order to get a stable shot.
A monopod such as the ProMaster Air Support AS431 is smaller than most tripods. It's even smaller than many travel tripods when it's fully packed up, making it super easy to transport. When it's closed down, the ProMaster monopod is only 54 cm in length. Carrying this monopod around is so much easier than a full tripod.
Although the monopod comes with a shoulder strapped case, I found it to be easier just to carry it in my hand. With the full kit, the monopod only weighs slightly over a kilogram. This is less weight than some of the smallest travel tripods from well-known brands.
The size and weight of the equipment you carry can be extremely important, especially if you're working long days or traveling. With lighter equipment, it's easier to work for longer periods, and that can sometimes make all the difference.
In general, I find that setting up a monopod is much faster than most tripods. You can quickly have a monopod extended to its full height, with the camera attached, ready to take a picture. The speed factor can sometimes determine whether you get the shot or not; that's why it can be really important.
There is also an endurance factor involved when the setup time is slow. If it takes too long to set up your camera for a picture, you may eventually start feeling like it's not worth the effort. This is where the ProMaster monopod can be extremely useful.
Due to the air support system in the AS431 monopod, you can almost instantly extend it to its maximum height, which is a generous 161 cm. Instead of fiddling about with individual clips and grip locks for each section, the ProMaster monopod can extend fully in one swift movement. To close it back down, there is a single lock button below the head. Pressing this release lock button will allow you to push the monopod back down to its minimum height without any great effort.
Being able to work fast and having equipment that can keep up with you is important. Any equipment that slows you down is almost always a bad thing. As the photographer, you should be directing the pace, not the equipment that you use. If a tripod isn't keeping up with you, a monopod may be precisely what you need.
The ProMaster AS431 monopod is an easy-to-use and highly intuitive piece of photography equipment. Aside from the speed benefits it offers over many tripods, it's incredibly easy to use even when compared to many other monopods.
As monopods go this may be one of the best on the market for several reasons. Firstly, the air support system in the AS431 is similar to many air-cushioned light stands. Not only does it prevent the monopod from crashing down when the button lock is released, but it also helps it extend smoothly and quickly.
Secondly, the AS431 has a ball joint built into its foot for tilt and panning features. You can also lock the ball joint to stop it from tilting; however, you can continue using the pan features.
The ball joint is an incredibly useful feature, especially if you're filming. You can quickly unlock the ball joint and take smooth-looking footage by moving the monopod in a circular motion.
Another really useful feature of the AS431 is the large section of foam padding on the monopod. Not only does this improve the comfort factors when handling the monopod, it also offers protection against the cold during the winter months. Even with gloves, cold metal in the winter can be unwelcoming.
Finally, at the bottom of the monopod is a three-leg base for extra stability. With this attached, the monopod can be almost as good as a tripod. Even long exposures up to 30 seconds are possible with the three-leg base attached. Of course, in windy conditions, it may struggle, especially if you have it extended to its full height. However, in most other conditions, the AS431 has performed admirably.
0.5-second exposure in windy conditions.
Essentially, the usability factors offer greater versatility over many tripods and even many other monopods. Due to these reasons, it's probably a better idea to shoot with a monopod than with a tripod.
- Maximum Working Height: 63 1/2" / 161.3 cm
- Minimum Working Height: 24 7/8" / 63.2 cm
- Folded Length: 24 1/8" / 61.3 cm
- Maximum Load: 15 lbs 7 oz / 7 kg
- Weight: 2 lbs 4 1/2 oz / 1.03 kg
- Four-Section Aluminum
Note: Kit specifications are with three-leg base installed and soft foot
There are obviously going to be situations where a tripod is the only choice. In these specific scenarios, it would be foolish to use anything else in its place. However, with improvements in in-body image stabilization and optical stabilization, a tripod isn't always necessary. As demonstrated above, with just a monopod, I was able to produce perfectly sharp images even when shooting with a 30-second shutter speed.
As a professional photographer, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to lighten the load of equipment you carry. It's extremely unlikely that you will need every bit of gear you normally carry around with you. On that basis, if you can replace heavy, bulky equipment with lighter, more compact gear, then you probably should.
It's for this reason the ProMaster Air Support AS431 monopod is an excellent choice to replace that huge tripod in most situations. You can purchase yours for $119.95 using this link here.