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The little monopod that could

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#1 MT4

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 10:39 AM

For a long time I had struggled with figuring out how best to use medium-powered straight-through binoculars such as the Maven B5 15x56 and the Nikon 18x70.  I have a natural tendency to dislike tripods in general.  Needing to wear glasses for astigmatism correction, and thus needing every last bit of usable eye relief offered by each instrument, makes putting up with tripods an even less appealing proposition.  As such, for a long time I mostly used those 15x and 18x instruments hand-held.  Obviously, that's not the best way to use them due to the inevitable shakes.

 

Sometime in the past few months I bought a Coman monopod that came with a small fluid head and three small, collapsible legs:

https://www.amazon.c...,aps,342&sr=8-3

 

I've recently started using this monopod with my Canon 15x50 IS (with 1.6x front boosters) and found it to be a perfect match for the Canon.  The three small legs allow the monopod to stand on its own, sort of like a mini tripod.  When I need to view targets higher up in the sky, I simply extend the length of the monopod and pull it towards me such that it rests on two of its three legs.  In other words, this monopod can be used like a mini tripod or a mini bipod.  It's not as rock-steady as a proper tripod but that's precisely where the Canon with is IS technologies comes in to fill in the gap in stability.  Thanks to this mini tripod-bipod-monopod-fluid-head combo, I now have a very portable observing machine that can work at 15x or 24x.  The whole setup weighs about 3.3 kg or 7.3 lbs, lightweight enough that I can easily take with me anywhere.

 

Inspired by this success, I've tried using the Coman monopod with some of my other medium-powered binoculars and found it to work pretty well too.

    (1)  Fujjinon FMT-SX 10x50, weight.= 1.4kg

    (2)  Maven B5 15x56, weight = 1.25kg

    (3)  Nikon 18x70, weight = 2kg

 

For me the Coman monopod is the little pod that could.  It's saved me from so much frustration when dealing with tripods for my mid-powered binoculars.

 

What's your monopod setup like?

Attached Thumbnails

  • Canon_on_Coman_monopod_jpg.jpg

Edited by MT4, 16 September 2021 - 10:46 AM.

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#2 Blue72

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 12:35 PM

If your impressed with your high power binoculars on a monopod

 

try your 7x binoculars…you would swear they are on a tripod

 

this is my current set up with Maven 12x42’s

 

512D927B-4CB2-4FB5-9CA9-5E7B728310CD.jpeg


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#3 Cestus

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 01:03 PM

I plan to try my Maven 7x45's on my monopod next time I'm at a dark site. I envy the 15.x56's.


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#4 MT4

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 05:53 PM

Aside from the Fujinon FMT-SX 10x50, which is pretty heavy at 1.4kg but still comfortable to handhold, I've never put any of my 10x binoculars on a tripod or monopod.  Nor any of my 8x or 7x.    I'll give them a try to see how much more I can see and whether that's enough of a reward.  Obviously, it's not an either/or thing.  I could first use my low-powered binos hand-held to get all the benefits from not having any tripod/monopod being in the way, and when my hands get a little tired, put them on the Coman monopod.

 

Last night the sky was clear enough for me to enjoy watching the moon, Saturn and Jupiter.   On the moon, the combination of the Canon 24x50 IS* (with the IS turned on) and the Coman monopod worked so well that the moon looked like it frozen in place even when I deliberately moved my head slightly from side to side while holding the monopod.  The moon looked great at 24x, with lots of details readily visible.

 

On Saturn, when I was handholding the Canon 24x50 IS*, with the IS turned on, I could discern the black gap between Saturn and its rings despite the view swimming around like that in a typical 10x or 12x.  On the monopod, and with the IS turned on, it was a vast improvement in steadiness of the view and as an extra bonus I could easily spot Titan to Saturn's right.

 

The Nikon 18x70, on the Coman monopod, gave a beautiful view of Saturn too.   The black gap was a bit smaller in the Nikon than in the Canon 24x50 IS* but was unmistakably there.  Titan was easy to spot too.


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#5 Blue72

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 06:44 PM

Aside from the Fujinon FMT-SX 10x50, which is pretty heavy at 1.4kg but still comfortable to handhold, I've never put any of my 10x binoculars on a tripod or monopod.  Nor any of my 8x or 7x.    I'll give them a try to see how much more I can see and whether that's enough of a reward.  Obviously, it's not an either/or thing.  I could first use my low-powered binos hand-held to get all the benefits from not having any tripod/monopod being in the way, and when my hands get a little tired, put them on the Coman monopod.

 

Last night the sky was clear enough for me to enjoy watching the moon, Saturn and Jupiter.   On the moon, the combination of the Canon 24x50 IS* (with the IS turned on) and the Coman monopod worked so well that the moon looked like it frozen in place even when I deliberately moved my head slightly from side to side while holding the monopod.  The moon looked great at 24x, with lots of details readily visible.

 

On Saturn, when I was handholding the Canon 24x50 IS*, with the IS turned on, I could discern the black gap between Saturn and its rings despite the view swimming around like that in a typical 10x or 12x.  On the monopod, and with the IS turned on, it was a vast improvement in steadiness of the view and as an extra bonus I could easily spot Titan to Saturn's right.

 

The Nikon 18x70, on the Coman monopod, gave a beautiful view of Saturn too.   The black gap was a bit smaller in the Nikon than in the Canon 24x50 IS* but was unmistakably there.  Titan was easy to spot too.

mounting 7/8/10x binoculars really extend their range. I live on the coast. I  typically have a good view of people and dogs out to 1-1.5 miles depending on atmospheric conditions. But when I mount them my range goes out another mile or two. As long as the glass is sharp


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#6 ButterFly

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Posted 17 September 2021 - 11:52 PM

Manfrotto 561BHDV.  I got mine used from B&H, so it came with a 701 head.  Pretty much the same thing, except it has az panning on the head that I never use because of the fluid panning foot.  I typically keep it longer than I need, then dance around with it to get higher or lower elevations.  I adjust the tensions and just grab the objectives more often that using the handle.  I keep a strap around one shoulder just because I don't trust myself all that well.

 

They live with my APM 16x70s.  They are wonderful during the day and I'm not quite old yet, so I can do backbends for night zenith.  IS can help a lot at night, but I've never had any issues for daytime use.  The tripod adapter of the APMs has a knob on the balance bar that I loosen just a little bit.  That gives me tilt in addition to alt/az.

 

The monopod with my 8x42s is a finnstick most of the time.  The leg gets lowered when I need it.  My tripod adapter for my 8x42s doesn't leave much room for tilt adjustment.


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#7 ECP M42

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Posted 18 September 2021 - 12:06 PM

I would not want to interrupt anyone's idyll, but a monopod with a video head and a minitripod as a foot, which weighs a total of 4lb (~ 2Kg) and is 66cm (26") long when closed, certainly cannot be called "little".

 

Perhaps the title is slightly misleading! And with the right consistency, it would be more correct to consider it one of the biggest and heaviest monopods you can buy ... lol.gif lol.gif  

 

 

According to my mindset, a really small and light monopod would be one foot or 30cm long when closed and weigh less than 1lb or 1/2Kg. smirk.gif

 

But maybe something of good quality may be of interest, for a total of 1,2Kg or 3lb and ~60cm closed or 2ft.

https://www.feisol.e...rapid/?lang=it 

https://www.feisol.e...vh-40/?lang=it 

 

 

Henry

 

 

 



#8 Stevenkelby

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Posted 18 September 2021 - 01:11 PM

I would not want to interrupt anyone's idyll, but a monopod with a video head and a minitripod as a foot, which weighs a total of 4lb (~ 2Kg) and is 66cm (26") long when closed, certainly cannot be called "little".

 

Perhaps the title is slightly misleading! And with the right consistency, it would be more correct to consider it one of the biggest and heaviest monopods you can buy ... lol.gif lol.gif  

 

 

According to my mindset, a really small and light monopod would be one foot or 30cm long when closed and weigh less than 1lb or 1/2Kg. smirk.gif

 

But maybe something of good quality may be of interest, for a total of 1,2Kg or 3lb and ~60cm closed or 2ft.

https://www.feisol.e...rapid/?lang=it 

https://www.feisol.e...vh-40/?lang=it 

 

 

Henry

Way too short though Henry ☺ 



#9 ECP M42

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Posted 18 September 2021 - 01:20 PM


Are you kidding or didn't you read the specs right?

 

In my opinion a monopod up to 206cm or 6.7ft tall is also too long, as sitting down is much better for both the neck and stability.


Edited by ECP M42, 18 September 2021 - 01:21 PM.


#10 ButterFly

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Posted 18 September 2021 - 03:03 PM

I use a monopod while seated as well.  They fold down - obviously.


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#11 MT4

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Posted 18 September 2021 - 03:39 PM

So far, I've only used my monopod while seated.  The monopod looks very compact next to my two Manfrotto carbon-fibre tripods, and still it handles my mid-sized straight-thru binos with ease while being as out of the way as could be.  The 2kg Nikon 18x70 is probably near the upper limit of what the monopod can handle well.



#12 rajilina

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Posted 18 September 2021 - 04:03 PM

I have this monopod and absolutely love it. It’s tall enough that you can observe zenith while standing. It packs down to just a couple feet long in an included soft case. It’s a true monopod (no mini legs) but I’ve been very pleased with the stability I get from it. I’ve been using it for a few months now as a grab-and-go with my Oberwerk binos and don’t think I’m ever going to need a tripod.

https://oberwerk.com...tion-ball-head/


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#13 MT4

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Posted 18 September 2021 - 04:26 PM

I have this monopod and absolutely love it. It’s tall enough that you can observe zenith while standing. It packs down to just a couple feet long in an included soft case. It’s a true monopod (no mini legs) but I’ve been very pleased with the stability I get from it. I’ve been using it for a few months now as a grab-and-go with my Oberwerk binos and don’t think I’m ever going to need a tripod.

https://oberwerk.com...tion-ball-head/

 

Likewise, I now can't imagine grabbing one of my Manfrotto CF tripods when going to a nearby city park to observe with my 10x/15x/18x/24x straight-through binos.  My compact monopod wins handily.

 

For my 82mm Kowa Highlander Prominar, there's no running away from a steady-n-heavy mount.  With 45-deg angled viewing, using it on a tripod is a no-brainer.



#14 Blue72

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Posted 19 September 2021 - 11:03 AM

If you travel you need a tall monopod.

 

There are many instances were sitting is simply not an option. Such as a crowded rooftop of the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower, hiking a rocky summit of a mountain, an open roof truck during a safari, etc…

 

you can always make a monopod shorter, but you can’t make it taller. There are plenty of tall monopods that are light and collapse into a small package.

 

P.S. I recommend a small ball head instead of a fluid head to make it more packable


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#15 MT4

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Posted 19 September 2021 - 07:22 PM

If you travel you need a tall monopod.

 

There are many instances were sitting is simply not an option. Such as a crowded rooftop of the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower, hiking a rocky summit of a mountain, an open roof truck during a safari, etc…

 

you can always make a monopod shorter, but you can’t make it taller. There are plenty of tall monopods that are light and collapse into a small package.

 

P.S. I recommend a small ball head instead of a fluid head to make it more packable

 

You're right about situations where seating is not an option.  

 

Now that I know that I generally prefer monopods to tripods for my mid-sized straight-thru binos (18x is the upper limit for me, anything higher and I'd want angled viewing), I can invest in another good-quality monopod with a ball head.  In fact, I was considering such an option (a Manfrotto I think) before buying the Coman, but the asking price of some 400 dollars after shipping made me pause.  The 100-dollar Coman works very well when seated.  The Oberwerk 2000 monopod would be perfect if it had three small legs to stand on its own.



#16 Bkoh

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Posted 19 September 2021 - 08:34 PM

P.S. I recommend a small ball head instead of a fluid head to make it more packable

I used to use a ballhead when mounting my binoculars on a tripod. I found a small video head (Sirui VA-5) much easier to use for starhopping.

Also, when lying down and using the tripod like a monopod, the VA-5's counterbalance spring provides enough tension to stabilize the binoculars.

The VA-5 weighs 700g and is possibly the smallest/lightest video head that has a counterbalance spring built-in. My ballhead has been in storage since the VA-5 arrived.

Edited by Bkoh, 19 September 2021 - 09:08 PM.

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#17 Bkoh

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Posted 19 September 2021 - 08:38 PM

I can invest in another good-quality monopod with a ball head. In fact, I was considering such an option (a Manfrotto I think) before buying the Coman, but the asking price of some 400 dollars after shipping made me pause. The 100-dollar Coman works very well when seated. The Oberwerk 2000 monopod would be perfect if it had three small legs to stand on its own.


Sirui has a range of monopods that have a detachable mini-tripod base. They come in different lengths and aluminium/carbon fibre options. I have a Sirui tripod and video head and have had good experience with them. The long warranty (typically 5 years) is also assuring.
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#18 MT4

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Posted 19 September 2021 - 08:42 PM

Sirui has a range of monopods that have a detachable mini-tripod base. They come in different lengths and aluminium/carbon fibre options. I have a Sirui tripod and video head and have had good experience with them. The long warranty (typically 5 years) is also assuring.

 

Thanks Bkoh for the recommendation.   I've heard of Sirui the brand but for some reason haven't checked out any of their options.   (To be honest, aside from the Coman monopod, I've mostly looked at Manfrotto mounting options so far, don't know why this brand appeals to me so much...)



#19 ButterFly

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Posted 19 September 2021 - 08:53 PM

The Oberwerk 2000 monopod would be perfect if it had three small legs to stand on its own.


The three feet on mine are really only for catching and activating the fluid base. I only really need two on the floor at any time. The fluid base is great. I would never ever walk away from a monopod.

My 25x100s can go on my monopod, but I would probably get two black eyes if I were to ever do that. They are tripod only for me.

#20 MT4

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Posted 19 September 2021 - 09:32 PM

The three feet on mine are really only for catching and activating the fluid base. I only really need two on the floor at any time. The fluid base is great. I would never ever walk away from a monopod.

My 25x100s can go on my monopod, but I would probably get two black eyes if I were to ever do that. They are tripod only for me.

 

Indeed, a 25x100 would be too much weight on the monopod.  (For somebody who needs to wear glasses full-time like me, using such a heavy bino on a monopod is bound to cause the glasses to crack, sooner rather than later.)

 

The Nikon 18x70 works OK with my Coman monopod.  I actually use it in either tripod mode (for targets at low-to-mid altitudes) or bipod mode (for targets 50 degrees and higher above the horizon) while sitting down.

 

In my opinion, a tripod works perfectly fine for photography and video capturing where height adjustment is not frequently needed.  For stargazing, height adjustment needs to be done regularly and it's just not fun to do so and then needing to level the tripod each time.   A geared center column goes a long way towards solving this problem, especially when combined with a height-adjustable chair.  However, the much bigger profile of the tripod is still something that needs to be dealt with and it's just not comfortable to view anything 60 degrees or more above the horizon through straight-thru binos on a tripod.  Here, a p-mount would help but then that would add significantly to the size and weight, making it even less attractive for me.

 

So my solution comes down to this:  Monopod with small legs for low-to-mid powers, angled viewing on rock-steady tripod for high powers.


Edited by MT4, 19 September 2021 - 09:34 PM.

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#21 Fiske

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Posted 19 September 2021 - 10:14 PM

Inspired by your little MonoPod, MT4, I experimented with my bogen tripod a few nights ago, tilting it back on two legs and using it from a camp chair. It worked quite well with the Fuji 10x50 and APM 12x50 binoculars. Takes a little practice, but the views are steady and comfortable. A nice approach for quick observing sessions. I found it much more difficult to manage the APM 16x70 and Resoluxe 10x70 with the setup. Just too heavy and 16x is a lot of magnification for adhoc tripod twister. Maybe with practice and the right approach it would be more manageable but it is way easier just to put them on the PM1 mount. smile.gif

 

Fiske


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#22 MT4

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Posted 19 September 2021 - 10:42 PM

Inspired by your little MonoPod, MT4, I experimented with my bogen tripod a few nights ago, tilting it back on two legs and using it from a camp chair. It worked quite well with the Fuji 10x50 and APM 12x50 binoculars. Takes a little practice, but the views are steady and comfortable. A nice approach for quick observing sessions. I found it much more difficult to manage the APM 16x70 and Resoluxe 10x70 with the setup. Just too heavy and 16x is a lot of magnification for adhoc tripod twister. Maybe with practice and the right approach it would be more manageable but it is way easier just to put them on the PM1 mount. smile.gif

 

Fiske

 

I've tried tilting back my Manfrotto CF tripod and it's not comfortable enough with my Nikon 18x70. 

 

Doing the same with my Coman monopod is a much better experience.  It's still a bit top heavy but manageable and an acceptable trade-off for me.  The secret sauce is the ease of height adjustment, combined with the two small legs that the monopod can rest on when tilted.


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#23 ECP M42

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 12:50 AM

I don't know what happened, but my links above are not working properly. I hope they work now.

This is what I recommended to improve lightness and quality in the slightly too heavy and bulky solution adopted by MT4:

 

- https://www.feisol.e...-rapid/?lang=en

- Video head VH-40

 

Surely I would not choose this solution and above all I would never adopt a video head, not even the 1.3lb or 590g one by Feisol, because I do not find that it has such an important or necessary function as to compromise portability.

 

This 32g is enough to free all possible movements ... 

 

SmallRig_Universal_Magic_Arms_with_Small

https://www.smallrig...-head-2157.html

 

 

Or this one at less than 3oz o 75g ...

SmallRig_Swivel_and_Tilt_Monitor_Mount_w

https://www.smallrig...tor-holder.html

 

 

There are many functional solutions that can hold up well even a Nikon 18x70, and there is no need for super video heads and monopods with 45mm steel sections. 


Edited by ECP M42, 20 September 2021 - 12:57 AM.


#24 MT4

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 05:21 AM

I am not too crazy about the magic arm.  I've read through a recent thread on it on CN and not keen on it.   

 

What I am after is something lightweight enough that can handle my 4.4 lb Nikon 18x70 without any extra support aside from sitting down on a park bench.   My first-ever monopod purchase, the 3.8 lb Coman, works fine here and can handle my Canon 15x50 IS with 1.6x boosters too.

 

What I consider essential in such a monopod setup are the three small legs.   The small video head on top might be perhaps a bit of an overkill, and a ball head might work just as well, but I've gotten used to using video heads.  The pan/tilt handle bar could possibly be dropped in favor of grabbing the bino directly to steer it wherever it needs to go, thereby reducing the weight a bit and improving portability a bit.

 

That being said, the whole package is still lightweight enough and functional enough to render my nice Manfrotto CF tripod + 502 video head redundant for my mid-sized straight-thru binos.



#25 MT4

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 07:10 AM

I've made a couple of tweaks to further improve my monopod setup:

(1)  Use a longer quick-release plate, e.g. a Manfrotto 504PLONG plate or one of its Chinese knock-offs, instead of the one that came with the Coman monopod.  The longer quick-release plate, aside from providing extra stability, allows the load to be better re-positioned, an essential feature when titling the monopod back for targets higher up in the sky.

 

(2) Remove the pan/tilt handle bar and simply grab the bino directly to steer it wherever it needs to go.  This simple idea works out very well, and it helps make the setup even more compact.

 

Here's a pic of my binocular station, otherwise known as my balcony.  On the left is my Canon 15x50 IS + 1.6x boosters on a Coman monopod.  On the right is my Kowa Highlander Prominar on a Manfrotto CF tripod with a geared center column and Manfrotto 608 video head.   Not shown in the pic is a height-adjustable chair I picked up from Amazon.  (Please don't laugh at my custom light shields.  Those black cardboard shields do actually work pretty well in keeping the pesky street/park lights away from my optics and my eyes.)

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • Binocular_Station_jpg.jpg

Edited by MT4, 20 September 2021 - 07:11 AM.

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