Denise Goldberg's blog

Friday, May 08, 2009

One leg or three?

Oh, not my legs - my camera's legs!

I listened to the wisdom of experienced photographers and started with a tripod, but then over the winter I decided that I needed a monopod too. I needed a little support for my camera as I was traipsing through the woods, trying to get closer to partially frozen streams, listening to the crunch of the snow under my feet. It would have been difficult to find the space to expand the legs of my tripod. And sometimes, many times, even when I am walking for exercise I have my camera with me.

If my goal of the day is photography, then yes, I usually have my tripod with me. If my goal is something else, exercise, or wandering on my bike, then those three extra legs often aren't with me.

SLIK Pro 814 CF II
Gitzo GM2561T

I did a lot of reading about tripods before I jumped. I know myself well enough to know that while a good quality tripod was expensive, that a good quality tripod was the only thing that would have a chance at making me happy. The general wisdom was to go with 3-section legs, not 4. I didn't listen to that because of my travel habits. Light-weight is very important, and small is important too. What did I choose? A SLIK Pro 814 CF II. It's light, it's pretty small when collapsed yet steady and not small when set up.

I'm very happy with my tripod. The problem? It joins me in my travels when my primary purpose is photography, but when my primary purpose is something else and my camera comes with me "just in case"? In those cases I'm unlikely to take my tripod. After my unsteady shots that day last winter as I wandered in the woods with my camera but without support, when I realized that even if I'd had it with me the tripod would have been problematic because there wasn't enough space to expand the legs... well, that's when I realized I did want to add a monopod to my collection of tools.

I started looking, and the Gitzo GM2561T jumped to the front of the queue. It quickly jumped into the cart at B&H Photo and came to join my cameras.

I used the monopod a few times over the winter, not a lot. I wondered if I really needed it. But now? I know I need it! The monopod has been walking with me over the past week plus. It helped with macro flower images, and it helped as I wandered on the coast last Sunday. Three legs are rock-solid steady; one leg is not. But one leg still adds some stability; I can see it in my photos.

Simple things make me happy, and I'm happy!

spring flowers, tulips

I've had a couple of questions from folks about my "legs", and one thing that I neglected to mention in my post is which head I am using to attach my camera to the legs. I am using a Really Right Stuff Ballhead, the BH-40 LR II. If you want more information, click to the Really Right Stuff ballheads page. A quick word of warning though - these wonderful ballheads are only sold direct, so if you want to add one to your collection of photographic tools you will need to order it from the website or by calling RRS.