Best Monopods

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

16 Models Considered
68 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
76 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best monopods

Last Updated August 2019

If you live by the idea that more is always better, you might want to rethink that philosophy when it comes to monopods.

While a tripod with three legs is going to provide more support for a camera than a single-post monopod, that doesn’t mean the tripod is always the better choice for your photography needs. A monopod allows photographers to hold the camera steady for almost any kind of shot, just like a tripod. It’s also easy to use and folds down to a small size, so you can carry it anywhere, unlike some bulkier tripods.

If you’re ready to give a monopod a try, we’ve put together all of the information you need to know to find the right one for you. If you’re ready to buy, check out our top monopod picks.

Some monopods allow you to place a spike on the end of the pole to stick into the ground. This keeps the camera steadier and keeps the foot from slipping.

Key considerations

When comparing various monopods for your photography, think about your needs and consider the following:

Weight limit

Digital camera gear can vary quite a bit in weight. A simple fixed lens camera doesn’t weigh much. But a DSLR camera with a long lens weighs a few pounds or more. Certain monopods are made to support only lightweight cameras. Others can handle extremely heavy still image and video cameras. Think about the type of gear you use and select a monopod that can easily support its weight.

Size

Monopods typically have a telescoping design. The sections collapse inside each other down to a shorter size for certain shots or a size that’s easy to carry, usually 15 to 24 inches. When it’s time to use the monopod, you extend the sections and lock them in place so you can use the full length of the pole, anywhere from 54 to 72 inches.

Portability

A lightweight monopod is a smart idea if you want to take your camera equipment on hiking trips. As a general rule, heavy-duty monopods are made of materials that weigh more than light-duty monopods. However, you don’t want to trust your expensive camera equipment to a light-duty monopod, even if you are trying to lighten your load. If the monopod collapses, your camera could get damaged.

Locks

Each section of a monopod locks in place using one of two designs: twist or latch.

Twist: On twist-lock monopods, you to twist a ring on each section to loosen or tighten it. This lock design holds its position tightly and allows for fast adjustments.

Latch: The other lock design involves a latch that you flip. Push the latch one way to extend the sections; flip the latch the other way to lock the sections in place. Flipping the latches can make a little noise, which is undesirable when photographing wildlife.

EXPERT TIP

If you want the tightest locking mechanism on an extendable monopod, find one with twist or screw locks. A twist-style lock offers slip resistance and performs better than a lock that latches.


Staff  | BestReviews

Monopod features

Monopods come in a few different designs and materials. Pay attention to these to find the best monopod for your photographic needs.

Materials: Extremely inexpensive monopods are made of plastic, so one might not last very long. More durable monopods are made of lightweight and tough aluminum or carbon fiber.

Sections: A typical monopod consists of telescoping sections, allowing the monopod to fold down to a short size for carrying. A unit with five or six sections folds down to a smaller size than one with three or four sections.

Feet: Occasionally, you’ll find monopods that include feet. The unit usually has three feet that extend out from the bottom to provide a bit of extra stability. When the feet aren’t needed, they fold back into the pole and out of the way.

Strap: Some monopods have a strap to make them easier to carry in the hand or on the shoulder. If you’re carrying a monopod with your camera attached, a strap can help you carry it securely.

DID YOU KNOW?

Most monopods have a screw for attaching the camera. However, you’ll find some with a ball head that allows the camera to tilt and rotate more easily.

Monopod prices

You can find monopods in a wide price range. Hardware aimed at professionals costs quite a bit more than basic units.

Inexpensive: Beginner-level monopods cost roughly $15 to $35. These aren’t able to support a lot of weight, but they’re sturdy enough for average-size or smaller cameras. Light-duty monopods might be made of inexpensive plastic.

Mid-range: These monopods cost about $35 to $75. They are mostly aluminum and can easily support medium-size DSLRs and lenses. A mid-range monopod provides a good level of performance for most photographers.

Expensive: Professional photographers can spend $75 to $300 for a lightweight but sturdy carbon fiber or aluminum monopod. These monopods are also the longest, usually at least 68 inches.

Don’t confuse a monopod with a selfie stick. They are two different pieces of hardware, although some manufacturers use the two terms interchangeably.

Tips

 

  • Set up quickly. Monopods are easy to use. You can connect your camera and be shooting photos in just a few seconds. A tripod takes longer to set up and start using.

 

  • Choose a monopod if you have limited space. When you’re shooting photos in a tight space, a tripod’s three legs could cause a tripping hazard. The monopod is safer to use because you don’t have to worry about someone tripping on it.

 

  • Adjust your position quickly. Monopods are perfect for taking action photos, when you have to adjust the position of the camera quickly for fast-moving subjects. You have the stability you need for sharp photos, but unlike with a tripod, you also have the freedom to move the camera in all directions.

 

  • Carry your camera on the monopod. If you don’t like carrying your camera on a neck strap, a monopod makes a nice alternative. Just keep the camera attached securely to the monopod and carry the monopod, which is surprisingly comfortable. This technique also works well when you want to have the camera ready to use as quickly as possible.

 

Other products we considered

The monopods above will fit the needs of a large number of photographers. However, if you’re seeking an extra feature or two, here are a few other monopods we considered. Those who are looking to shoot video with a big camera will appreciate the sturdy Manfrotto Xpro 5-Section Monopod. The carbon fiber supports a lot of weight, the sections lock tightly, and it has three mini feet you can extend for extra stability. Another heavy-duty but lightweight monopod is the aluminum alloy Dolica WT-1010 Professional Monopod. One of the longest monopods on the market is the Polaroid Heavy-Duty Monopod, which extends to 72 inches.

With only one leg instead of three, a monopod reduces the chances of someone tripping over the monopod leg and damaging your camera.

FAQ

Q. Do I need a specific brand or model of monopod to pair with my camera?
A.
Not really. The mounting screw or ball head on the monopod is made to fit almost any camera. If you’re trying to mount a smartphone onto the monopod, you might need a specific model, but traditional digital cameras should work with any monopod.

Q. What’s the best way to maintain good balance when shooting with a monopod?
A.
When shooting with a monopod, you’ll want to recreate the balance you have with a tripod. Pair the contact points your feet make on the ground with the contact point of the monopod to create a balanced stance.

Q. What’s the best shooting height with a monopod?
A.
If your camera has a viewfinder, extend the monopod until the viewfinder is at eye level. This allows you to capture spontaneous photos as quickly as possible. You can line up the photo in a hurry when using the monopod at this height. Shooting photos from a monopod feels natural with this setup.

Q. Should I change the height of the monopod for certain photo angles?
A.
Should you need to shoot a photo above or below eye level, don’t count on having time to adjust the height of the monopod. Instead, learn to change the angle at which the monopod rests on the ground. To shoot upward, place the monopod leg away from your body and tilt the camera backward toward you. To shoot down, do the opposite. Then adjust your stance so you can see through the viewfinder while maintaining your balance.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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