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My monopod of choice is the SIRUI AM-326M Carbon Fiber Monopod (Amazon Link). But I’ll come back to that in a minute.
First, let’s talk about monopods in general.
A monopod is basically a one-legged tripod. It won’t stand up on its own, which makes it a very portable camera support. Quick to set up, take down and move.
They are fantastic when carrying a tripod is not practical, but you still want support for a longer and heavier telephoto lens to help you get more stability. Having that support provides more stability than hand-holding and alleviates some extra weight that usually comes with longer lenses.
Sports and wildlife photographers consider a monopod one of their most essential pieces of kit because they need to be ready to shoot at any moment. Hand-holding those heavy lenses for hours on end is just not practical
A monopod is also the perfect camera support when you are shooting in environments where tripods are not practical or not permitted. A tripod in a crowded area is a recipe for disaster, not to mention you had best have good liability insurance.
Monopods can also help you get elevated camera angles above crowds or create more interesting architectural images. For more info on getting these creative views, check out this monopod video I made a few years back.
The moral is that monopods aren’t just for sports, wildlife, and long lenses. I use them for events, real estate, architectural shots, outdoor portraits, and model shots.
Most of the longer lenses you would use with a monopod have a tripod collar that allows you to mount the monopod on the lens and then rotates from horizontal to vertical very quickly and easily. If you are working with a shorter lens with no tripod collar, you can mount a ball head on your monopod to be able to change camera positioning or
Monopods will not be a lot of use for long exposures like astrophotography, where any camera movement would ruin your shot. That is where tripods are valuable because you can lock everything down and remove any chance of movement during the exposure.
Monopods generally come in two different materials; Carbon Fiber or Aluminum. The carbon fiber versions are pricer but almost always lighter and more durable.
That brings me to my monopod of choice – the SIRUI AM-326M Carbon Fiber Monopod (Amazon Link)
Yes – Sirui is pronounced soo-ray.
Sirui is a relatively new manufacturer based in Hong Kong. I own a few of their ball heads that have performed wonderfully, and my previous monopod was the SIRUI AM-306M Aluminium Monopod (Amazon Link), the Aluminum version of the AM-326M.
SIRUI AM-326M Carbon Fiber Monopod Specs
The 326M supports up to 22lbs (10kg), which is plenty for most body and lens combinations up to 600mm. By comparison, the aluminum model only supports up to 16lbs (8kg)
Both models are built with a 6-section tube that collapses to 15.6 inches (39.5cm) and extends to 61.4 inches (156cm), just over 5 feet. It uses sealed twist locks which aren’t as quick as clip locks, but I find they hold much better.
The 326M is topped with a 57mm base, providing ample coverage for camera bodies and tripod mounts. It also has a reversible 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch screw for tripod heads or cameras.
At the bottom, you have a retractable stainless steel spike for soft terrain outdoors and a rubber-tipped base for indoor use.
The feature set includes a soft wrap, which is particularly great if you use the monopod in cold weather. You also get a carabiner belt hook, a wrist strap, and a small compass in the box. For me – The compass gets removed – I don’t do a lot of hiking, and I have the compass in my iPhone if I need it.
I almost forgot; it weighs less than a pound at just 15.9 ounces (.45kg). And yes, the aluminum version is heavier.
So at less than a hundred dollars, this SIRUI AM-326M Carbon Fiber Monopod (Amazon Link) is my go-to monopod – and I have tried many of them in my career.
Understand that a monopod is not a replacement for a tripod. These are two very different pieces of gear with two very different purposes. Both are priorities for any photographer’s kit. You may not use a monopod every day, but it will be a lifesaver in many situations.
My conclusion is that the SIRUI AM-326M Carbon Fiber Monopod (Amazon Link) is the best monopod for my needs, and at under $100.00, you will have a tough time matching its specifications.
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I hope you found this information useful. Now go pick up that camera and shoot something! Because – “Your BEST shot is your NEXT shot!” — Joe Edelman