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Tips for Using a Monopod

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/1/2011

A monopod has its own strengths and limitations, and here are a few tips to help use the device for its best features.

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    One Pod

    If you have to be able to move your camera repeatedly you get put into a bind because you cannot use a conventional tripod because of its stationary model but using a camera hand held does not give you any stability. The monopod, which acts as a single pole that stays connected to your camera and allows you to prop on when you want to be still, is a great choice because it allows you to move your position quickly and then stabilize your image. This is a unique device that brings a number of benefits but also requires there to be some specific technique applied.

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    Distance

    One of the great things you can do with a monopod is to use it to extend the reach you have over your camera. Most of the time you will just be propping the camera on it and leaning it different directions, but you can actually hold the camera up by the monopod and lift it above your head. If you want to look at an object from above, or look over a high barrier, this gives you the farther distance with the control over your camera.

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    Short Video Clips

    The best way to use a monopod is by moving the camera, positioning it on the monopod briefly, and then changing positions. This is where the monopod gets its strength because it brings a complete stability while not applying the restraints of a large base. When using it maximize this strength by moving and then filming in short bursts. You can stay for extended shooting moments, but if an image does not work there is no reason to stay there longer than necessary to try and make the clip better. Instead just change location and try over. This can make editing a much more difficult prospect, but will help you to get what you need.

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    Filming Continuously

    Try filming the entire time that you are on the monopod. Since you will likely be filming in smaller increments there is much more of a possibility that there will be timecode errors and dropped frames. Film in large blocks that you will be able to cut around when you get into the editing room.

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    Height

    The most difficult thing to do when working with a monopod is to change the height of the camera. Though you will likely have to be able to change this periodically, do camera tests ahead of time to see what the average height you will be at. Mark this on the pole so when you need to go back to it you will know where it is ahead of time. This is also where you are going to want to begin your shoot.

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    Planning and Experimenting

    The best way to approach a monopod is by thinking of the things you can try ahead of time. You are going to be able to rotate the camera quite a bit, and carry it around easier, so following people or objects is going to be a more possible prospect. Try to experiment, but know what you are going to do before filming something that is very spontaneous.






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