This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links it means we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn More

Tripod vs. Monopod – Which One Should You Use

Finding the perfect moment, to snap a picture is a hard thing on its own, but to get it ruined by your shaky hands is even worse.

To get better stabilization while shooting and avoid camera shake, tools like a tripod and monopod exists.

The real question here is:

If they do the same thing, which is stabilization – which one should I pick Tripod or Monopod.

Both Tripod and Monopod have their benefits and drawbacks. To make things easier for you guys, I will explain step by step what they do and what their weaknesses and strengths are.

What Is a Tripod?

You are probably quite familiar with the tripod, even if you never owned one you probably saw one around.

It’s a three-legged device that most photographers use to support their camera and any type of extra equipment they have, like flashes and such; but mostly they use it to get a way better stabilization than they can get handheld.

Tripods come in all different shapes and sizes. They are made out of aluminum and carbon, some are compact and easy to carry around, and some are heavy and sturdy. Tripod legs are quite important when it comes to steadiness.

Most people opt for a lightweight one, which is a tripod made out of carbon, but this one also costs more expensive than its aluminum counterpart.

Alongside the tripod, you will need a compatible head. Some tripods include a ball head, some you have to buy separately.

The most common ones that you will encounter are the fluid head, pan and tilt head, and gimbal heads – all of them serve their own purpose, so it depends on the type of photography mostly.

What Is a Monopod?

Just as the TRI in tripods means “three” – implying the leg count, Mono on monopod means – one.

Simply put, they are single-leg support for your camera and its equipments. It comes in different sizes, supporting different weight limits.

While a tripod might offer better stabilization, due to being three-legged and heavier, on the other hand, the monopod offers more versatility in movements, and they are much quicker to set up than their three-legged peers.

While some monopods have leg extensions to make them stand on the ground, they will never be able to compete or replace a tripod on this aspect.

The Benefits and Downsides of a Tripod:

No doubt, that a tripod gives you more stability than a monopod, and that’s for obvious reason.

As long as there isn’t a harsh wind blowing or a tornado, you can just set up your tripod and take the hands-off of your camera.

It will sit comfortably on the tripod and will offer great stability for long shutter speeds.

While its size and weight might be its strength, is its weakness at the same time. Tripods are at least three times the size and weight of a monopod (see what I did there).

All this makes it a pain for traveling. You will have to set it up and find the perfect spots – meaning that you might lose some great shots.

Also, many crowded places, especially tourist attractions will have “No Tripods” rules, this might sound funny, but a tripod might create a pitfall.

Also, the price might be something we can consider a con. Compared to a monopod a tripod will always cost more due to more materials and individual parts.

When Should You Use a Tripod:

Below you will find some types of photography that will work best with a tripod.

Photographing Long Exposures:

A perfect example for a tripod would be long exposures – where you try to capture the movement of the world surrounding you by opening the shutter speed for long periods measured in seconds.

And there’s no way you can hold the camera still, without shaking in your hands; yes even a professional won’t manage that right.

But a tripod will for sure.

Landscape Photography:

We all like a beautiful landscape, but it is not something done easily.

Landscape photography requires a small aperture to increase the depth of field as much as possible, and at the same time, it should be sharp from the foreground to the background.

To do this you must balance the small aperture by using a longer shutter speed.

Yet again, most of the time this will surpass the point at which you can do it handheld.

That’s when the tripod kicks in.

Pretty much the same goes for wildlife photography.

Photographing Stars (Astrophotography):

It’s pretty much impossible to get great pictures, of the milky way, stars, or astronomy in general, without a tripod, or simply put long exposure photography.

Without a tripod, you will find that your images become blurred by tiny vibrations. Even If you have a camera that is solely made for astrography, it will be affected by shakiness.

Astrophotography or low light situations, require exposure times that are estimated in seconds and sometimes even hours and minutes, and to get the best out of those pictures – you need patience and of course a tripod.
 

The Benefits and Downsides of a Monopod:

Not only with photography accessory, but in general, people has shown to always choose the most compact and lighter option.

That is the case with Monopods too.

They are always smaller and lighter than a tripod which results in great movement freedom and of course portability/easy storage.

Unlike the tripod, you will be able to sneak the monopod in a crowded environment and can even use its small single leg to place it.

On the other hand, the drawback here is that a monopod will never offer the stability a tripod can.

It sure takes away the weight of your camera and keeps it high and stable enough, but you always need to hold the monopod with one hand; meaning that it limits the usage of hands.

When Should You Use a Monopod:

Below you will find some types of photography that will work best with a monopod.

Photographing Sports:

The main objective of using a monopod in sports photography is to keep both the lens and camera steady or just say a camera support. Especially when you know that you buying to use a telephoto lens, which is the main lens that sports photographers use.

But they also tend to swap into short lenses from time to time. And that’s when monopod makes things easier, due to being quite easy to set up thanks to its compact form factor.

Sports photography can be done at low shutter speeds to stop movements, but also at high shutter speeds to eliminate what camera movements affect the final image.

Photographing Music Festivals:

If you are a music photographer, a monopod is ideal for you, you don’t want to bring a tripod on a mosh pit right?

Or in any concert in general, since they are crowded with people, even if you were to photograph through the stage, a tripod would be a pain and will hugely limit your freedom.

A monopod will give you the flexibility to move around and capture photos/videos while giving you the chance to extend and get shots from above.

Videographing:

A monopod is also a splendid tool for videographers and not only photographers.

It rewards them with great production value and due to being lightweight and portable, it benefits them just right.

We have seen in movies or cinematic clips in general, where the subject is moving quite fast and the camera is following him in different angles, which is most likely done by a monopod; so yeah, you get the idea, run and gun style.

On the other hand, for over-head shots, i recommend a tripod.

Conclusions:

The query of monopod vs tripod is the kind of freedom vs solidity when it comes down to photography gear. Both a monopod and tripod have their uses.

As I mentioned above, a tripod will always offer more stability than a monopod, and a monopod will always be more lightweight and smaller than a tripod.

We also noticed that a tripod works wonder in landscapes or photography while a monopod was a great choice for crowded environments.

So at the end of the day, it all boils down to the type of photography you are taking and what are you looking to capture.

Both tripod and monopod are tools that you should seriously consider since they benefit in many ways. A tripod monopod combination will sure you give the chance to enjoy both worlds.

This is it, hopefully, I was clear and helpful.

Happy Photographing!

Michael Fortin