As I mentioned yesterday in my post “A Tripod Novice – About to Become an Expert!“, Chris Gulker and I headed out to the local pro photo shop this morning to look at their seemingly endless assortment of tripods, monopods, ball heads for both, etc.
The basic objective was to help me find a more stable platform for some of my HDR photography indoors – at nearby locations like the Stanford Memorial Church, Cantor Arts Center, home (!), etc.
As it turns out, and as better photographers than me (like Chris!) obviously know and understand, there are so many choices! Sort of felt like trying to pick out a mutual fund from Fidelity or Vanguard – well, here’s our list of the various funds, they all are designed to meet different specific needs – what’s yours? Uh, hmm, let me think…! You get the idea.
After thinking hard about the Gitzo GT1541T that my friend yesterday recommended ($650 at the local store – about $100 cheaper at Amazon.com) plus another $350 for the Acratech Ultimate Ballhead that another friend recommended, I decided to settle for something a little more reasonable and within my budget – a monopod. At several of the airshows I shot last summer, I remember seeing quite a few monopods in action – seemed like nobody hassled with a tripod at an airshow.
Even that wasn’t an easy decision – although it was much easier than thinking about tripods. The basic issue was to find one that would extend long enough to bring the camera to my eye level – I didn’t want to be stooping down to try to look through the viewfinder. The Gitzo monopod was just the right height for me.
I settled on a carbon fiber monopod – the Gitzo GM2541 Series 2 6X Carbon Fiber Monopod. I bought it without a head – figuring I needed to first see if I really needed a head or whether just maneuvering the monopod with the camera mounted would work for my needs. I could have saved some money by buying the Gitzo from Amazon – but decided to support our local photography store instead!
I’ve heard great things about the Markins head – so I just ordered one tonight to use initially with the monopod and eventually with a Gitzo GT1541T tripod that I’m sure I’ll eventually break down and buy!
I also ordered from Markins their QR plate P52U (for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II) and the Markins Black Leather Hand Strap – I really don’t like the long “touristy” strap that Canon provides with its cameras and have been looking for something like this hand strap instead. [Thanks to Fazal Majid for his recommendations about Markins and more!]
I’m looking forward to heading out tomorrow to try out my new Gitzo monopod – we’re supposed to have another spectacular warm sunny day here on the San Francisco Peninsula! I’ll share my initial report here – after giving it a good initial workout.
[Update – June 2010] After a recent trip to Yosemite, I came back and decided I really did want a real tripod to further my HDR expoits – so I picked up an Induro Carbon 8x Tripod CT-214 (Black) from Amazon.com.]