Photography Tip - use a monopod with your DSLR and telephoto lens

For a very simple piece of photography gear, a monopod is very useful in many different ways.  Traditionally, a monopod is used by sports and wildlife photographers who shoot with large, heavy telephoto lenses.  Using a monopod with such a setup it suddenly becomes weightless, something you can balance in place with one finger.  If you are shooting with a lens that has a lens collar (see above photo, which allows one to attach the monopod to the lens not the camera body) then using a monopod is highly recommended for prolonged shooting.  If your lens does not have a lens collar available, but the weight of holding even a non-f/2.8 telephoto lens or sub-500mm lens is taxing, then a monopod will help with that also.

Other ways you can make use of a monopod even without a telephoto lens?  You can shoot from a very high perspective by elevating the camera way up in the air holding the monopod at its bottom most point.  You can see photographers trying to get shots of someone surrounded by a group of people using this technique.  

Also, if you are shooting in a low light situation, but there is not space for the large footprint of a tripod, then a monopod will add a lot of stability helping reduce camera shake, especially in the vertical axis.  

How do you use your monopod?

DSLR Photography Lesson with Cindy & her carbon fiber monopod

Cindy has yet more new gear! In this photo her new carbon fiber monopod & great Black Rapid camera strapNow less than a week away from her grand photography trip to photograph Alaska's wildlife, Cindy met me in downtown St. Petersburg for our fourth of four "next generation" lessons.  Last year Cindy took a few lessons as well, but over this spring and summer the lessons have been with her all knew updated gear, least of which is her awesome Nikkor 70-200mm VR II f/2.8G lens.  For this lesson she debuted a carbon fiber monopod I recommended for her as well as the awesome Black Rapid RS7 strap.  

As you can see from the photo above, her Nikon D90 when connected to the aforementioned 70-200mm VR II f/2.8G lens and 2x teleconverter is quite the heavy setup for handheld use.  The monopod will not only provide stability and a level shooting platform, but perhaps most of all for Cindy it basically eliminates all the weight of her DSLR and lens.  I was really impressed with the Optek monopod.  Combined with a very smooth head, it seems like great value for a carbon fiber rig all told under $150.  

I was really anxious to see the Black Rapid RS7 strap in person.  I knew it would be good, how can it not be when it very sensibly takes the camera/lens weight off of your neck and puts it onto your shoulder?  From the second I tried hers on I knew it would be my next gear investment, and a soon one at that.  I will provide a full review then.  Even now though I can state 100% that if your neck strap is killing you, get this Black Rapid strap or one of the several other types of strap Black Rapid offers.  I will be getting the RS-Sport version.

For this lesson at The Pier the pelicans were unfortunately not as active as they were during Natasha's lesson the same time yesterday morning.  Still, the introduction of the monopod and new strap brought a whole new set of shooting ergonomics for me to advice Cindy on.  We also got some good eagle photography practice by photographing incoming Cessna planes.

I hope Cindy comes back from Alaska with the whale fluke shot she wants as well as some great bear, eagle and other wildlife shots!

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