Tripod, Monopod, Or Handheld – Which Is Best?

Have you ever found yourself wondering if you should use a tripod, monopod, or just go handheld?

In this video, we’ll look at a quick, easy way to determine the best support solution for any given wildlife scenario. We’ll talk about the four major considerations and how to weigh them against each other in the field. In just a few minutes, you’ll know how to always pick the right support gear for your wildlife shoot.

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PS – If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll REALLY like my e-books and video workshops! Thousands of pages and hours of videos filled with tips, tricks, and techniques – all my best content! Check ’em out – click here (hey, it’s free to look).

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This entry was posted in Misc, Techniques, Using Your Gear, Wildlife.
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Noel C. Ice
Noel C. Ice
1 year ago

Do you ever use a gimbel with a monopod?

Photography Article
1 year ago
Mauritz de Villiers
Mauritz de Villiers
1 year ago

When using a beanbag shooting from a car window, do you also have to switch off image stabilization like on a tripod? Or does it depend on what shutter speed I’m using. Using a 60-600 Sigma lens, does the size of the beanbag matter? Some suggest using a bigger beanbag. Will I benefit from using a gimbal head on a beanbag for moving subjects?

Mike Patten
Mike Patten
1 year ago

Have never used my been bag to shoot from a car window, I do not switch off image stabilization when using my bag in a hide, however I do follow the 500 hundred rule and make sure that my shutter speed is faster than the length of the lens [ i e if shooting at say 600 mm i always try to shoot at 1200 of a second ] I use a sigma 150-600 mm and have found that a large been bag is better. Have never tried to use my gimbal head on my bean bag, do not believe… Read more »

Mauritz de Villiers
Mauritz de Villiers
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Patten

Thanks Mike. I am still learning. Sometimes because of low light, I have to go slower than 1/focal length (static animals) to keep my ISO from going too high. Most of my shooting is from a vehicle in the African bush….Not allowed to exit vehicle.

Mike Patten
Mike Patten
1 year ago

Thank you for some very interesting points. Do you ever use a bean bag?. I personally use a bean bag all the time when in a hide, it`s light and easy to carry. Many thanks Mike.

pderumine
1 year ago

Good method for choice. I prefer handheld for my black kite pictures as they are always flying above my head. But I should learn or rather train my technic with a tripod / gimbal to get used to this method also.+

Pierre
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Thanks, hadn’t thought about that.

Nubie Paul
Nubie Paul
1 year ago

Really useful advice, as always.

Gary
Gary
1 year ago

Great post Steve
The only time I have been caught out is when tracking birds with the monopod, all going good, then they get instructions from air traffic that
they now have to climb to 500ft, still tracking and shooting with the whole rig off the ground, was OK with the monopod but would been a big ask with a tripod

PaulE911
PaulE911
1 year ago

Great information, as alway Steve. Love your approach to sharing expertise. Something that has worked well for me in many scenarios, especially as carrying my full size tripod becomes more of a strain after passing 60, is to use a lightweight travel tripod. It is paired with a light, side mount gimbal for ease of carry. I have a elastic Velcro band that cinches the 3 legs together, and with the head locked down and only one leg extended, it works as a great monopod, giving quick height adjustment. When more appropriate, just undo the Velcro, extend the other two… Read more »

SARAH HUNTER
SARAH HUNTER
1 year ago

I just love your videos. They are always easy to understand, full of helpful information, and presented visually so you actually remember what you listened to! Thank you, thank you!!!

Ralph Chichester
Ralph Chichester
1 year ago

For myself I have a Benro ModelA38 FD bipod its a monopod with 3 small feet that fold up or down I do a lot of wildlife in the field in thick tall prairie grass. Its great fits in my camera bag with my Tamron !50-600 lens light and easy to handle. I also have a Manfroto 190 Tripod with a Pro Media gear gimbal head for when I need more stability.

Bruce
Bruce
1 year ago

For me the use of a tripod is for heavy lens and camera combinations. A 600mm f/4 and D850 with EN-EL18 grip weighs 11.5 lbs and that is too much for extended shooting and I use a tripod with gimbal head 100% of the time. Same camera with 500mm PF lens weighs 6.3 lbs and I can shoot handheld with this combo all day long. The 180-400mm or all intents is like shooting with the 600mm f/4 lens. On a boat I shoot handheld unless I am using a teleconverter where I then will use a monopod for steadiness with… Read more »

Hervé
1 year ago

I share my photography (500 f/4) as follows : 95% on a tripod, 5% handheld. I really don’t like using a monopod. Thanks for the video.

Ziggy
Ziggy
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Yes. Requires a hefty monopod though.
According to Wimberley it has to be rated at 3x the weight of the rig.

Ziggy
Ziggy
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Thanks Steve.
Fraid I got a monopod, selecting one with a generous overhead, but it ain’t 3x. It would need to be rated for 13kg.

David Sneddon
David Sneddon
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Yeah I use a Gitzo GM4542 and the Wimberley monogimbal, brilliant combination, a real game changer for me.

Mike Gifford
1 year ago
Reply to  David Sneddon

I agree on the Wimberley mono gimbal for sure. I purchased one after watching Steve’s review and since then have recommended two others to buy the same gimbal. I wildlife shoot with a D850 and Nikkor 500mm and the keep rate is usually very high.

David Sneddon
David Sneddon
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Gifford

Heh Mike, I use a D500 and a D750 with a 500PF with the above mono combination but I also use a Gitzo GT3543LS tripod and a Wimberley WH-200 mk2 Gimbal. I also use a 24-85 general lens and a 10-20 for landscapes, all Nikon. I also use a Black Rapid Double strap when out walking with the D750 and the 500PF on one side and the D500 and the 24-85 on the other and I can go all day like that. Super rig for me as I am in my late sixties and can’t carry the heavies for long.… Read more »

David Sneddon
David Sneddon
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Gifford

Heh Mike, I use a D500 and a D750 with a 500PF with the above mono combination but I also use a Gitzo GT3543LS tripod and a Wimberley WH-200 mk2 Gimbal. I also use a 24-85 general lens and a 10-20 for landscapes, all Nikon. I also use a Black Rapid Double strap when out walking with the D750 and the 500PF on one side and the D500 and the 24-85 on the other and I can go all day like that. Super rig for me as I am in my late sixties and can’t carry the heavies for long.… Read more »