Like their close cousin the tripod, monopods are a useful photography tool when keeping your camera rock-steady is important. A great monopod will also take the weight of heavy photography equipment off your arms when shooting, which really helps to mitigate strain on your body.
Buying Guide for Camera Monopods
Why buy a camera monopod?
Because they have one leg instead of three, camera monopods offer more movement versatility than tripods and are quicker and easier to set up. They’re also ideal for certain settings, such as sporting events, since their compact designs allow them to enhance your shoot without taking up too much space in crowded environments. Camera monopods also outperform tripods in terms of portability and can be taken nearly anywhere where a little extra stability is needed for the perfect shot.
What should you look for in a camera monopod?
- Weight Capacity: The first factor to consider is a monopod’s weight capacity. In general, picking a model that sports the highest load rating possible is a good idea, as these monopods will afford you greater stability. This way, you can be sure that the monopod will suit your current needs and likely be able to accommodate your future needs should you ever upgrade to a heavier camera with a large, hefty lens.
- Durability: Although everyone plans to treat their photography gear with care, investing in a durable monopod is a great way to protect your investment. Monopods that are made primarily of aluminum or carbon fiber can be a great choice since these materials offer great weather resistance while being both strong and lightweight.
- Maximum Height: In order to comfortably use your monopod, you will want to make sure that its maximum height is suitable for your body type. Those who are taller than average may have to look a little harder to find a model that’s ideal for them. Thankfully, monopods come in a wide variety of adjustable sizes.
What features make a monopod travel-friendly?
One thing to look for is the number of sections a monopod has. More components to break apart means a more compact package in your bag. A monopod’s leg locks will also come into play. Typically, twist locks are more compact and travel-friendly than flip clamps and are usually a little more adept at locking a monopod’s length into place. Finally, if you choose a monopod with feet, make sure that they’re able to fold in a compact manner so that they don’t become a hindrance when packing your gear.
Our Picks for the Best Camera Monopods
COMAN KX3232 Professional Monopod
A lightweight, long-extending monopod that's designed to help you hit just the right angle.
Pros: Sporting a weight capacity of 13.2 pounds and an adjustable height that ranges from 26 to 73 inches, this monopod works equally well for cameras, video cameras, and camcorders. The monopod itself swivels a full 360 degrees and allows you to tilt the camera up to 45 degrees in both directions. It’s also made of lightweight, durable aluminum and comes with a padded storage bag to safely transport your gear.
Cons: While this isn’t the most expensive monopod on the market, it’s definitely pricier than most entry-level monopods you will find. Also, some have noted that its leg locks need to be readjusted from time to time in order to sufficiently stabilize the unit.
Bottom Line: If you’re seeking a durable, stable monopod that offers tons of flexibility to help you get the perfect shot, the COMAN KX3232 Professional Monopod is a great choice. Compared to most budget options, this one also extends higher and stands up better to normal wear and tear, making it a great buy for those who value durability over thriftiness.
NIANYISO Camera Monopod
An easily adjustable monopod that can function as a monopod, tripod, and smartphone mount.
Pros: This monopod from NIANYISO offers a high level of convenience for a very reasonable price. In under a minute, it can be transferred into a tripod, and back again, depending on your needs. A smartphone holder comes equipped hidden under the quick release plate, so you can use this monopod to mount your smartphone without needing to buy or attach any extra parts. The quick-release head, hand crank, fast lock, and height adjustment foot buckle make it easy and efficient to adjust this monopod in a pinch.
Cons: Although this is an excellent monopod for the price, some have noted that it can be a little shaky when fully extended. Thus, this is a monopod that should be treated with care and watched closely, especially if you have expensive gear mounted to it.
Bottom Line: While this probably isn’t the sturdiest monopod out there, it overperforms in terms of functionality and ease of use, especially when considering its bargain price point. That being said, its weight capacity is decidedly lower than our top choice, so you might have to travel a bit light if you want to get the most out of this product.
Altura Photo 62-Inch Camera Monopod
A travel-friendly monopod that offers plenty in terms of stability at an unbeatable price.
Pros: Weighing in at just over half a pound, the Altura Photo 62-Inch Camera Monopod collapses down to a mere 16.75-inches in length, ensuring it’s easy to slip into a tote bag or backpack. The universal thread mount means that you can attach nearly any DSLR or mirrorless digital or video camera or another scope up to five pounds in weight. This monopod also offers a non-skid rubber foot with a retractable leg spike as a way to secure the monopod without damaging floors during indoor use.
Cons: Although this monopod is surprisingly stable given its low cost and lightweight design, some will be turned away by two noteworthy limitations. For one, its 62-inch maximum height is probably not ideal for taller photographers. Secondly, its 5-pound weight capacity, while decent for the price, is certainly not suitable for heavy-duty applications.
Bottom Line: Although this product isn’t designed to be the last monopod you’ll ever need, it definitely succeeds at being a reliable (and affordable) monopod that can be taken nearly anywhere. Given its price point, most will be able to forgive its flaws and appreciate it for the amount of value it provides.
JOILCAN Aluminum Tripod/Monopod
A versatile, budget-friendly tripod that doubles as a sturdy monopod.
Pros: Featuring a lightweight aluminum design that doubles as a tripod and a monopod, this offering from JOILCAN offers a ton of versatility for the cost of admission. Despite its budget price tag, this product is incredibly sturdy and folds up nicely so that it can easily be taken on the go. Even better, its simple-to-adjust head can be panned and tilted on the fly, allowing you to change a shot from portrait to landscape in seconds.
Cons: While most users report being satisfied with this product in terms of sturdiness, it does sport more than a few plastic parts that can be broken if not treated with care. Also, it’s a little heavier than similar products and can be somewhat draining to carry by hand.
Bottom Line: When looking for a convertible tripod that doubles as a monopod, one of the first things you want to ensure is that it’s easy to convert. Thankfully, this product exceeds expectations in this regard. Given its sturdy build quality and nice extras (it even comes with an extra plate), this is undeniably a great buy.
Koolehaoda 6-Section Monopod
This rugged monopod is light and durable enough to be used as a hiking stick.
Pros: If you’re looking for a rugged, cost-effective monopod that’s durable enough to moonlight as a hiking stick, the Koolehaoda 6-Section Monopod fits the bill. This travel-friendly monopod is fully collapsible, thanks to its five sturdy leg locks, and its comfortable hand grip is great for using on long treks. This model also scores points for its 15.4-pound load limit, which will give you plenty of options regarding camera setups to use it with.
Cons: This monopod doesn’t come with many exciting features or extras, so what you see is pretty much what you get. That being said, those who are looking for a monopod with a swiveling head, sturdy attachable feet, or extra mounting plates should look elsewhere.
Bottom Line: While this isn’t the most exciting or groundbreaking budget monopod you will find, it really delivers where it counts. So, those who are seeking a product that is light and durable enough to be used as a hiking stick but also provides dependable stability for their camera won’t be disappointed.
There’s a wide variety of monopods on the market, so finding one that is perfect for your needs shouldn’t be difficult. Whether you’re looking for optimal stability and next-level features or something that’s simply rugged and dependable, doing your research is imperative in order to make an educated purchase.