Monopod or Tripod?

MatthiasClaflin Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
edited December 2011 in Practical Filmmaking
I've been looking into getting a new tripod for a while now and am a little confused. I've always thought that if you wanted to stabilize your camera, or do smooth pan/tilts then you needed a good tripod. But what about a monopod. When I say monopod I don't mean the commercial kind. I mean what if you mounted a decent tripod head on something like this, with a little help from a hardware store. Couldn't you get the exact same effect as having a tripod for a fraction of the price?


  • AxelWilkinson
    AxelWilkinson Posts: 5,255 Staff
    edited December 2011
    No. You could get a similar effect to a cheap crappy tripod, but nothing like the stabilization that a real tripod offers. First, that mic stand you link to has a round weighted base, which is only going to work at all on flat, finished floors. There is no way to adjust for uneven ground, so no location shooting, unless you want to bring a bunch of gear to set up a flat base for it, which 1) is a pain, 2) requires a load more gear, and 3) severely hampers stability. The 'monopod' has to be perfectly plumb, or your camera is crooked (could be adjusted with the right head setup head) and, more importantly, the weight of the camera is now off center, and is going to leverage the entire stand off to the side, thereby amplifying the effect of anything that potentially tries to move the camera in that direction. If the shaft is at all crooked, then it actively makes the camera more unstable.
    Second, the advantage of a tripod is that the legs expand from immediately below the head, so that the camera is directly braced from movement in all three directions. In addition, The base of a tripod covers a diameter of 3 feet or so, which is much more stable than the 9" base on that mic stand. You can get mic stands with legs, but they don't adjust for uneven ground, and they are still only going to be 2 feet in diameter at most. And since the legs angle out from only 4 inches or so above the ground, there is no stability up at the camera height.
    Basically, that stand is designed to hold a microphone at a certain height, not to stabilize it from side to side. If a mic wobbles 1/2" from side to side, it is no problem whatsoever. If your camera wobbles 1/2" from side to side, on the other hand, your shot is ruined.
  • MatthiasClaflin
    MatthiasClaflin Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    edited December 2011
    I figured it wouldn't work for one reason or other, but I had to ask anyway. A traditional tripod it is then haha.
    EDIT: Another reason I ask is because I want to film weddings and other live events as a hobby and last time I did it for a friend I used a ton of borrowed gear from family and friends and one thing I remember is that the tripods were kind of a pain to deal with since they took up so much space and were not easily concealed. They weren't necessarily in the way but they were easily noticeable and I figured that using something like a mic stand monopod would eliminate some of this.
  • So basically, you want something that you can place a camera on and forget it, right? I tripod can still work for you, if you don't open it up all the way, it doesn't take up as much room. If you are looking for the ability to move around quicker, the tripod will do that for you also, but you will need a steady hand. I just videoed, my brother singing in the church choir, for their Christmas show. And I use a monopod, and videoed the whole thing sitting in one of the pews. This worked somewhat because I wasn't taken up as much room. And It was over an hour so my arm did not feel like falling off, from holding it up that long. So if you are looking for just a static camera, to put up and forget that can work for you, but it might cost more retrofitting it too work. Or you can just buy a cheap tripod, and situate it so that nobody messes with it. So, yes a tripod can work but you have too be with it the whole time.