Using A Gimbal Head On A Monopod

So…

A few months ago I released a video where I discussed my various tripods, heads, and how I use them. It generated a lot of comments and a few really stuck in my mind – they were about using a gimbal head with a monopod. 

At first, I sort of dismissed the idea. I mean, why would you want to place a giant gimbal head on a monopod when there are incredibly good monopod heads that are a fraction of the size and weight? 

Still, I kept thinking about it and finally gave in. I took it for a test drive (over the course of two months) and I like it so much I’m categorizing it as a game changer. Find out why in the video below.  

 

PS – If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll REALLY like my e-books, Secrets To Stunning Wildlife Photography and Secrets To The Nikon Autofocus System. They’re filled with hundreds of pages of information just like this. Check ’em out – click here (hey, it’s free to look 🙂 )

Please tell others about this post:
This entry was posted in Opinions, Techniques, Using Your Gear, Wildlife.

Leave a Reply

40 Comments on "Using A Gimbal Head On A Monopod"

avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Rick Erbach
Guest

Steve,
I gave this a try with my Gitzo monopod and RRS gimbal on an Eagle Photo tour this weekend. I was on a Louisiana Swamp Tour.

Excellent results!

Thanks for all of your great tips, videos, and book. Your information is making me a better photographer.

Lety Mireles
Guest

hi there ,
where can i purchase gimbal head for monopod , that seems very stable …. great idea and which monopod brand are you using

Peter Connan
Guest
Hi Steve, Have you ever used a monopod with a belt pouch? I use this a lot, especially when photographing aircraft. The belt pouch is similar in concept to what shore fishermen use, thus the monopod is kept relatively short. The big advantage of this setup is that the whole setup (you, camera and lens) pivot around your hips. This makes it a huge amount easier to track moving subjects. The camera’s weight is carried mostly on your hips, so a little bit more work than with the monopod standing on the ground, but far far better than hand-holding, and… Read more »
JN Vann
Guest
Found the post and video about gimbal head on monopod to be most interesting, so I proceeded to get a monopod to try with my gimbal head. However, I found the monopod to be a bit frustrating to use due to the wrist strap for security and trying to adjust things such as zoom, focus, etc. since some I do with my right hand and some with the left. My solution was to order another neck strap like the one I have on my camera body and replace the wrist strap with it. Now I will have the ability to… Read more »
Nick Delany
Guest
Brilliant ! I had thought about this idea but had dismissed it without trying due to the weight of the gimbal head. Recently I had watched your article on balancing a gimbal head and then when you tried it on the monopod…..I thought “Eureka…this is the magic sauce” The benefits a balanced gimbal head on a monopod is the release of your your left hand from the tension knob where it is positioned to lock the head during breaks in photography. The upgrade in “ease of use” and the ability to pre-position the camera allows you to be in a… Read more »
Robert
Guest

Hi Steve, Been a fan of the monopod + Jobu Jr. gimbal head for my D500 and 200-500mm for years. For BIF shooting, I find it no problem to lift he ‘pod with my left hand and shoot almost handheld.

Markus
Guest

Hi Steve, I like the idea with the gimbal on the monopod, too. I normaly use an Gitzo fluid gimbal. But this one is very bulky and heavy. For travelling I recommend as an alternative the Wimberley Sidekick. Use the oneway head on the monopod, swivel to the side to 90° and mount the Sidekick. So you have both, the oneway head and if needed also a gimbal.

Dale
Guest

Will have to give this a try, as I always usually leave my Gimbal head on my tripod! Thanks Steve!

Cheryl Pelavin
Guest

Thank you! I have thought about doing that but self censored. I use Sony & RRS gimbal + monopod and have a project in mind for using this set up.

Ed Swinehart
Guest

Fantastic idea. Just pulled my RRS monopod off ebay when I saw this. Works pretty good. Thanks.

Charlie
Guest

I have similar trip to your workshop coming up to Columbia. I was wondering when birding how helpful the monopod in general was given a lot of the shots will be up. Did you generally carry it off into the jungle when doing birding hikes?

I have used a monopod extensively in situations where i have to move around a lot and in Africa in safari vehicles where space is restricted and have liked it a lot given the wear and tear on large glass on your shoulders. I ain’t getting any younger as I have found.

Harold FEIERTAG
Guest

Steve, I enjoyed your article. You can also use a ball-head as a gimbal. Give it a whirl.

Harold FEIERTAG
Guest

Wonderful article, Steve. You can also use a ball-head as a gimbal. Give it a whirl.

Terry Wahlen
Guest
Thanks Steve, another great video! When I originally purchased my Nikon 200-500mm I tried it on my monopod with a tilt head but found it somewhat restrictive for the reasons you expound. When I then read up on using a gimbal head with a monopod I found the majority of opinions were along the lines of “why would you do that – there’s no point?” I went ahead and did it anyway and found the setup to be so easy to use and so versatile that it’s my “go to” setup now. It’s good to keep an open mind in… Read more »
Bob
Guest

Lots of advantages with using a monopod. However, the disadvantages are camera/lens stability and having to hold on to the entire setup all the time which gets tiring after a while.

John Sibley
Guest
Steve, I have been using this type of gimbal head and monopod combination for 5+ years now, and can certainly recommend it. Two points to enhance it even further…. First I recommend the Manfrotto 685B model monopod which can be raised and lowered to the right height INSTANTLY using a clever friction based foot “pedal” (and a finger operated release trigger to go down again). No more messing with those slow and fiddly release catches which take sooo long to undo and re-do up again when at the correct height. (By which time to bird has flown or died of… Read more »
John Varghese
Guest

A monopod gives flexibility, especially when you are trekking through rocks or thick tropical forest… for the walk around and shoot situations. Feel your load should be as less as possible, then a tilt head is better. Handheld shooting felt always better because it gives you so much flexibility, but you need strong and steady hands… which is a struggle for me…so end up using a tripod with gimbal or monopoly with tilt

Saman T-Baduge
Guest
Steve, this is a great idea and I will give it a try. I had been using Nikon 500mm and Sigma 600mm with 1.4 teleconverter on a monopod for a couple of years and got great shots if the subject is not that far away. But many pictures failed due to poor sharpness owing to slight camera shake. Then I tried with a ball headed tripod which help me to relax my hands but I have the same issues as mentioned. I am now thinking about a Gimbal head and choosing a one is challenging as the market is flooded… Read more »
Bruce
Guest
It comes down to anyone using a 600mm f/4 lens on a monopod would be better served with the use of a gimbal head. That beds the question of whether to use a monopod with such a large and unwieldy lens in the first place. With a tripod I am truly hands free when adding or removing a teleconverter and that is a big advantage. I have switched to the Gitzo fluid dampened gimbal and will be selling my Wimberley and Custom Brackets gimbal heads. The Gitzo is great for video and still shooting. It would also by the ultimate… Read more »
Richard
Guest

Gosh, how has this not been a thing for all this time? Just test shot equivalent of 600mm lens at 1/60 and 1/125 on the combination and they are sharp. So much easier to schelp around. Thanks for the tip.

Richard

Harold FEIERTAG
Guest

Hi Steve, I enjoy all your informative videos. Good job. I was wondering if there is a negative or downside to using the monopod in this fashion, other than having to hold it at all times?

FPD Cotterill
Guest
Great Post from the Neotropics 🙂 Thanks! I suspect I’m not the only one thinking along the lines of…. “How stupid of me not to try this before…” [to paraphrase TH Huxley’s comment on reading Origin of Species ]. The real cruncher has happened too damned often – When – 4+kg of rig crashing down on to one’s fingers on the fulcrum of the monopod head. Always at the crucial moment! But must confess, I cringe when I see a heavy telephoto on a Leg or set-of-legs without a safety lanyard with quick-release snaplink. This is in case the plate… Read more »
John
Guest
Steve – I have been using a gimbal head / monopod combination for the past couple of years. From experimentation I have found that the Induro GHB 1 gimbal head works best for me. It is smaller and lighter than a full size head but balances as well and has a lower center of gravity which feels better on the monopod. The biggest advantage is that it is only weighs 1.7 lbs and that adds to the mobility of the monopod combination. When using a tripod I still prefer a full size Wimberley or Mongoose head. I have tried several… Read more »
Kris Nagy
Guest

Steve as always, I love you quick tips that are straight to the point! Great use of Gimbal Head. I’ll have to try it!

Tom Jones
Guest

I watched you use this setup during your “most excellent” Costa Rica workshop this week. Appreciate the video. It looks like you are using a couple of RRS clamps on a Wimberley gimbal head. Can you please share the model names/specs on the setup you are using in the video.

Vincent Van der Beken
Guest
Vincent Van der Beken

And once again a very nice video Steve. Will share it here with some Belgian/Dutch friends in photography groups on FB.