Ultimate photographer's monopod

When you go out hiking and photographing, carrying a tripod can be too much, even my lovely carbon-fiber one. Besides, you want a good hiking stick on a hike anyway, you exercise more of your body. And most hiking sticks have a small tripod screw in them to use as a camera mount.

But here's a plan to make an all-out monopod/hiking stick kit to do a lot more than you can do with just the basic stick.

First, like many sticks, you want a spike end you can stick in the ground with an rubber cap you can put on it. Some monopods have tiny tripod legs that come out of the base that can be used for a light camera on level ground, which is also useful.

However, my alternate proposal takes longer to set up but would be more stable -- guy wires. In this case some retractable strong wires that can be pulled out from near the top of the stick. On the end of the wires you would find, or could attach a means to loop the wire around something (nearby tree, railing) and ratchet to pull tight the wire. You would also have a set of fine ground spikes that could be staked in soft ground and connected to the wire loop, then ratcheted tight. Finally, you cold put weights on the wires, such as rocks, your other gear or a person's foot in a pinch.

The result could be a moderately stable platform, on which you would put your ball head, or in my case panoramic head. Of course weights or thin stakes would not resist a hard shove (though being tied around railings and trees might) but it should be able to handle a fairly heavy camera, since it is the main pole which does that job.

And of course it would all collapse into something 19" long to go in your suitcase. Though you probably couldn't have the stakes in carry-on luggage.


i've been thinking about ultimate monopods lately as well--i just finished processing my (nothing compared to yours, but..) burning man 2003 pictures the other day and disturbingly many of them were blurry. not to mention losing over half of my carlsbad cavern shots and a sizable portion of vegas-at-night. sigh. so basically i'm resigned (with my crappy camera at least) to always using a monopod or tripod. but my shtick is that i hate carrying things in my hands or in a backpack. i have huge pockets, so i carry my camera in there. and i have a pocket table tripod, but frankly, one feels a bit silly laying down on the street to take a picture in public. so i got the shortest monopod i could find, but it's still 16.5" long collapsed. i need one that collapses to <=6". seems like such a thing should be possible, especially since i don't need mine to be loadbearing. no idea how i'd go about creating one though--i have no access to a metal shop or even a CAD program to plan out my parts. i'd never thought of using a hiking stick--that is a great idea, except again i hate carrying things that can't go everywhere with me (i do a lot of city shooting and museums don't like you carrying staves in, i'd think? and bicycling around at burning man would be tough...).

this is definitely an area where innovation is required! now, if we can just get the retailers to listen..

I just thought about this idea while trying to figure out how to take my medium format camera kit backpacking and traveling in Peru, without having to strap on my heavy Bogen 3221 and having my backpack scream 'steal me!'. A monopod would be the obvious solution since it would double as a walking stick and help for the climbing. The problem with this being that when the subject is a landscape or ruins, I'm going to need to use the double cable release, for mirror up then shutter, if I ever want to blow these up to poster sized. I'm thinking of using parachute cord (thin, light, strong) with a bowline knot on the top end (permanent loop) and taughtline hitch (adjustable loop - used on tents) on the ground end. The three small loops would attach around the monopod top and the adjustable loops to go around small tent pegs in the ground or wrapped around a tree. I'm sure a ton of nature photographer pros already know about this but it's there secret. If you do this or have heard of it, please post your info!

I like this idea. I work for a sailboat and kayak manufacture and have some input that might be helpful. The 'line' you people are speaking of is called Spectra or Dyneema and is very light and strong, in fact it's up to 15 times stronger than steal (pound for pound). As for what knot to tie, try to avoid having knots altogether. If you want it to be fast and simple go with carabiners or snap shackles.

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