Monopods for Motorsports

by | Jan 20, 2014

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Sometimes you encounter a situation when you can’t carry a tripod or there’s just no space to use one. That’s when a monopod comes in handy. A monopod is a one legged tripod! For the photographer with space and weight at a premium, like a backpacker, a monopod is ideal and for shooting in low light, like the car museums I wrote about a few weeks ago, a monopod—if allowed by the venue— can help when shooting at slower than normal shutter speeds.

While not as rigid as a tripod they are better than hand holding a heavy long lens at slower shutter speeds. When shooting sports, a monopod is handy for supporting long lenses and the little bit of space you may be working in. If you’re photographing sports from the stands, a tripod can interfere with the other spectators and some venues might not even let you carry one in. But a monopod usually won’t create the same kind of disruption, especially if you want to get along with your fellow spectators.

The above image was shot at the top of the famous Corkscrew turn at Mazda Speedway at Laguna Seca using an EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens that weighs 8.5 pounds. Maybe you can hand hold a lens and camera combination that weighs ten pounds but I can’t. The lens was loaned to me by ace motorsports photographer Regis LeFebure and came with a hefty Manfrotto monopod attached. Exposure was 1/320 sec at f/10 and ISO 800.

While shopping for monopod, remember that the same quality/price standards that make up a good tripod are applicable to the monopod. One side benefit is that because of the simplicity, even a top of the line monopod is surprisingly affordable. If your camera support needs are simple and occasional, a monopod may be all you need!