Recently, I was assigned to cover a Marathon and realised that I needed to get a monopod asap. I knew that I would most likely be on my feet for hours shooting individual runners/walkers among hundreds of participants …and who wants to take hand held shots for 6 hours?
Manfrotto monopods are well recommended, and although I know there are other brands that have just as good products and may have even better when comparing specific models, I chose to go with the more popular.
Finally I decided on the sleek black 3 sectioned Manfrotto 679B Monopod built from Aluminium which is lightweight, folds down to a reasonably short size and extends to a maximum height that is sufficient for shooting when standing.
Specifications of the Manfrotto 679B Monopod
The actual specifications of this monopod are as follow:
|Maximum Height||61.8″ (157 cm)|
|Folded Length||24.6″ (62.5 cm)|
|Load Capacity||22 lb (10kg)|
|Leg Lock Type||Flip levers|
|Male Thread Size||1/4″-20 & 3/8″-16|
|Weight||1.4 lb (0.7kg)|
From a numbers perspective, these specs. seem great and in actuality (based on my use of this monopod) I’ve confirmed them to be so. But along with the specs are other features which we will explore. So let’s look at this monopod with a closer inspection.
Features of the Manfrotto 679B Monopod
Maximum Height/Folded Length
The maximum height of the monopod allowed the viewfinder of my D-SLR (in vertical position) to be just a bit over my eye level — so I had height to spare — and this was with just with a tripod collar. With the Manfrotto #234 Swivel Tilt Monopod Head attached, I got an additional (approximate) 2 1/2 inches. I am just under 6 feet tall, so this Monopod can easily suit a tall person who wishes to use his/her monopod while standing.
The folded length is reasonably short, but on another note I wish it folded even shorter for more convenient carriage in the tripod/monopod section of the Kata DR-467i Rucksack. If you want a shorter folded length then you would need to get a monopod with at least 3 flip levers, i.e. 4 sections. The more sections, the shorter the folded length which may increase the end price.
Quick Action (Flip) Levers
The quick action levers are robust which firmly secure sections in place. They are also fairly easy to open and close. But once they’re closed, they cannot be opened with a jerk or sudden shock.
Sure Rubber Grip
The sure rubber grip is set firmly in place, and is really comfortable to hold. It’s roughly 1½ inches in diameter. It would be great if it were thicker, probably because my hands are fairly large, but to be honest I had no complaints.
The rubber tip at bottom which is roughly ⅛th inch thick is quality made. After having the monopod on the road for several hours, there wasn’t evidence of wear on the rubber. The only thing to see was dirt! Good sign for longevity.
The adjustable wrist strap seems handy, but I haven’t really used this feature. It is not of much use to me, but for others it may. Usually I just carry the monopod by the grip, or if I’m through with it, I’ll just place it the tripod/monopod holder of my backpack.
Quick Insight on Using a Monopod
There isn’t any great skill in using a monopod as it’s quite straightforward, but of course you need to practice using it. A monopod isn’t a 100% safety net against camera shake. As you can ‘see’, a monopod still requires you to hold the grip in order to get in sharp shots as opposed to a tripod which is independently stable. Nonetheless, there are monopods that are self standing which are ‘independently stable’ to some extent.
When taking action shots, a monopod can offer you quick lateral rotation for panning and getting in quick shots. Also, you are more likely to consistently frame shots which are parallel to the (horizontal) ground, and use lower shutter speeds than normal to get sharp shots. Then again, if you want to get even more stability, you could try a monopod shoulder brace, which is probably more relevant for making videos.
My use of the monopod was not so much to get low shutter speed shots, because the nature of marathon photos usually ‘freeze the action’. My main use of the monopod at the Marathon was to consistently frame shots as well as to prevent arm and hand strain.
The Bottom Line
Overall, I am quite satisfied with my purchase of the Manfrotto 679B Monopod having used it for 6 hours non-stop, and travelling with it on not the most comfortable of rides. It suits my purposes as a sports photography enthusiast, as it easily supports my D-SLR with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. The only issue I have is that a shorter folded length and a thicker sure rubber grip would have suited me a bit better such as the Manfrotto 694CX which is significantly more expensive than the 679B. Nonetheless, I highly recommend it.