I used my new monopod properly for the first time last weekend, wandering along the cliff-tops of Santa Cruz and so forth, and two things caught me by surprise:
- It doesn’t really yield better results than hand-holding (at up to 300mm, or 450mm in 35-equiv.). Apparently I can already hand-hold steady enough, in concert with VR or fast shutters, to be at the limits of my lens’ sharpness. Plus I typically shoot moving subjects (often animals), for which a slower shutter speed is undesirable anyway, so I often can’t achieve the obvious goal of lower ISO shooting. Though I suppose it occasionally helped.
- It makes the camera way easier to carry. Even though it adds weight, that I can now just throw the monopod over my shoulder makes a huge difference. It feels way lighter than hanging the camera alone off my shoulder using the neck strap. I have to watch where I’m walking, so that I don’t take out people’s knee-caps with the end of the monopod, but that didn’t seem to be a problem.
One thing that bore out as expected is that it makes it harder to shoot. Quick reactions in particular are tricky. I may have missed a really cool photo (of two kids getting knocked on their arses by an extra-large wave breaking over the cliff-top) as a result. I’m actually not too upset about that, for whatever reason, but it’s on my mind now. My ball head doesn’t have a quick-release plate (it requires screw tightening to be effective), so travelling with the camera separated from the monopod isn’t a good option.