Autumn is by far my favourite season for photography. I wanted to head out to a local forest to take in all the autumn colours and textures at this time of the year. For this I thought it would be a perfect time to take out my big old medium format film camera and also a great opportunity to catch up on wildlife photography with my big zoom lens. With a fully loaded camera bag and my boots on I just had one decision to make, which tripod to take? The answer to this was neither! The forest I was heading for has some very thick bush and muddy terrain and I didn’t much fancy lugging around a big cumbersome tripod. But with the big old film camera in the shaded parts of the woods I would be shooting at slow shutter speeds, and with the large heavy wildlife lens it would need some form of camera support. The solution was a monopod. More specifically the Manfrotto XPRO monopod.
This piece of kit solved all my problems. Compact and light weight, yet an incredibly sturdy platform to support both the film camera and the wildlife lens. The Manfrotto XPRO equipped fluid head ball base is mainly aimed at the fast- emerging digital video market but it is such a well-made and versatile product it has applications across a wide scope of photography needs, and is a perfect combination for this style of shooting for me. Small and compact it stows away for easy transit through the woodlands and very easy and quick to set up when you are ready to shoot. The fluid head base has three small flip down lockable legs to offer greater purchase and distribution of weight on the soft ground and rough terrain.
The fluid head has a lockable collar to keep the monopod locked in position and is extremely sturdy. As you can tell in the attached picture I felt fully confident it could support my beloved Kiev 88 on its own with no problems. Should you need to or want to, with a quick click of a button the collar is unlocked, enabling the free motion of the fluid head base. This allows for smooth and more precise movement of the camera mounted on top of the monopod, which is vital for dialling in and framing up your shot to get the best composition for your image. Nice smooth transitions and a firm platform when you’re ready to hit that shutter release.
With my film stock spent it was time to swap the big old camera for the wildlife lens. A quick and simple base plate change and the big lens was ready to go. I got into the position I wanted to shoot from and set the monopod up to the correct eye level height using the quick release locks on the main pole. Very quick and easy, even when wearing gloves on a cold morning. The fluid base legs made short work of the undulating ground to provide a sturdy and comfortable set up without the awkwardness of getting tangled in the bushes, which could have been a problem with a three-legged tripod potentially scaring away any wildlife. The three axes base allowed me to swing and rotate the camera from shot to shot with ease.
After capturing a great image of a deer I decided to call it a day. The monopod quickly collapses down and tidies away into any tripod holder on a camera pack, or if need be can be used as a handy walking pole to get you back to the car. The Manfrotto Xpro monopod is a very well constructed and designed product. The ease of use and portability of the tripod gave me one less thing to worry about so I could focus on the task at hand. A perfect addition to any outdoor photographer’s kit bag. A brilliant and versatile item.