Tuesday, December 4, 2007

No space for three legs?
Try a monopod.

Pro and amateur photographers use tripods to support heavy cameras and lenses, to make smooth pans, zooms and panoramas, and to keep cameras still during long exposures.

Sometimes when you need extra support, there is just not enough space to set up a tripod, like when you're standing on a crowded sidewalk, taking pictures of a parade.

That's where the tripod's one-legged offspring -- called a monopod or unipod -- can come in very handy.

It can't support a camera by itself, but its added support does allow you to take sharp pictures at slower shutter speeds, and/or with longer lenses, than if you had to hold the camera all by yourself. If you're shooting video, a one-legger reduces camera shake and the resulting on-screen bumps.

And unlike a tripod, a monopod can be kept set-up, attached to your camera, while you walk around an amusement park, historic site, museum, crowded party, etc. Just touch its tip to the ground when you want to take a picture.

Monopods are usually made to "telescope," when not in use, allowing them to be transported and stored easily. They can usually be attached to a camera case for carrying around. Prices range from about $20 to $200 or more. Some have small legs that radiate from the tip to provide added stability. Some are made of carbon fiber to save weight.

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