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Archive 2013 · An "alt" way to use a monopod
  
 
Massimo Foti
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p.1 #1 · An "alt" way to use a monopod


My main hobby is 20th century military history and my interest in photography is mostly a side-effect of it. The majority of my pictures cover airplanes, tanks and military vehicles, mostly indoor, inside museums. The goal is to document historical artifacts both for history enthusiasts and scale modellers. I care about image quality, but have zero artistic ambitions.

Along the time I refined a solution to take pictures from an high angle, inspüired by something I saw here and there. I use a monopod with a compact camera, an articulated LCD and a cable remote. I keep the monopod well above my head, with the camera's screen flipped down and I use a cable to control the camera. It looks more or less like this:
Picture of me taken by a friend

I started using a Canon G12, but since last year I replaced it with a Canon G1X, that has much better high ISO performances and allow me dramatically reduce the need for a flash (I wouldn't use the G12 above ISO 400, the G1X instead is fine for me up to 1600/2000).

Below you can find a small selection (hope people wouldn't mind the military subjects). Again, there is no art here, but the I think it was worth sharing as an "alternative", even if not new, way to use photo equipment. The main point is that this way I can get pictures from an unusual angle.


T-55 AM2 B by Massimo Foti, on Flickr


M48A2C by Massimo Foti, on Flickr


Pz I A by Massimo Foti, on Flickr

Sometimes I also get an opportunity to see details that aren't visible from ground level, this is especially valuable for scale modellers:


SdKfz 251/9 by Massimo Foti, on Flickr

Right now I am quite happy with the quality I get out of the G1X (my main cameras are Canon 5D III and 7D) but in the future I may look into something else, like a Micro 4/3 with a couple of primes and a stabilized body or something along those lines. No need to say stabilization is important here. I think the current trend toward wi-fi connection between cameras and smartphones could make the whole experience much more pleasant too. It's kind of tiring and somewhat hard to frame the subject by looking at an LCD above my head
Wi-fi would also eliminate the need for cable remote too.




May 26, 2013 at 09:36 AM
timballic
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p.1 #2 · An "alt" way to use a monopod


I've been watching these in G1X Group on Flickr, some good records of these military vehicles. I didn't realise the heights you went to to get them! I wish you'd included close ups of the information boards on each, as it would have made them much more interesting IMO.
One question, how do you find autofocus accuracy with the G1X, it has come in for some criticism? With these subjects it must be difficult to know what to lock onto, or is it central each time?

(I haven't yet got a G1X, but it seems to most closely fulfil my requirements for a 2nd camera to my 5DII, despite poor close up ability and low battery life. The fully articulating LCD and large sensor are it's main attractions to me.)



May 26, 2013 at 11:09 AM
ytwong
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p.1 #3 · An "alt" way to use a monopod


”alt” way or ”odd” way?

Nice pictures from the museum, didn't realised that those pictures need to shoot from that high.

i have seen people using ,or talking about using monopods that way(like Dave black,if anyone have heard about him). But i have never tried that(i haven't used a monopod for years)

Thanks for sharing



May 26, 2013 at 11:53 AM
mirkoc
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p.1 #4 · An "alt" way to use a monopod


Massimo Foti wrote:
I think the current trend toward wi-fi connection between cameras and smartphones could make the whole experience much more pleasant too. It's kind of tiring and somewhat hard to frame the subject by looking at an LCD above my head
Wi-fi would also eliminate the need for cable remote too.


Massimo, thanks for sharing ideas and impressions. You may check if DSLR Controller android app works with G1X. You still have to use a cable but can compose on an auxiliary screen.

timballic wrote:
(I haven't yet got a G1X, but it seems to most closely fulfil my requirements for a 2nd camera to my 5DII, despite poor close up ability and low battery life. The fully articulating LCD and large sensor are it's main attractions to me.)


I was speculating of a G1X too, as an auxiliary, not quite a 2nd camera, for different perspectives with a monopod at concerts. I wish the shutter wasn't so loud in relation to silent mode of 5DIII (as far as I can remember trying one at a photo fair).
Regarding the quality of results, I noticed on DPR comparison crops that G1X looks better in the corners than Sony RX100 (I like the output of that one very much) for a similar price minus being pocketable. Not that I believe the corners are essential, but could be interesting for those who shoot landscapes.



May 26, 2013 at 12:52 PM
Massimo Foti
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p.1 #5 · An "alt" way to use a monopod


timballic wrote:
I've been watching these in G1X Group on Flickr, some good records of these military vehicles. I didn't realise the heights you went to to get them! I wish you'd included close ups of the information boards on each, as it would have made them much more interesting IMO.


Ffor me Flickr is mostly a centralized repository for my images, then I use the shots on dedicated forums where we discuss among fellow enthusiasts. For those kind of people the info panels don't add anything, they already know better. But I see your point.


timballic wrote:
One question, how do you find autofocus accuracy with the G1X, it has come in for some criticism? With these subjects it must be difficult to know what to lock onto, or is it central each time?


It's central almost all time. I find it accurate but very slow, just like a typical G-series camera. The G1X provide image quality up to an APC-S level, but AF speed is very much at the level of a compact camera, it can't compete with any reflex or mirrorless. It's still okay for my needs, since subjects are static. For me another bonus is the ability to share the same flash among the DSLR and the G1X, something I couldn't do with a Micro 4/3 or a NEX.


Edited on May 26, 2013 at 02:23 PM · View previous versions



May 26, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Massimo Foti
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p.1 #6 · An "alt" way to use a monopod


ytwong wrote:
”alt” way or ”odd” way?


We often walk a thin line here


ytwong wrote:
Nice pictures from the museum, didn't realised that those pictures need to shoot from that high.


Well, it's not a necessity, but it brings some interesting results you can't get unless the museum gives you permissions to bring a ladder inside



May 26, 2013 at 02:22 PM
ytwong
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p.1 #7 · An "alt" way to use a monopod


Do you think using a smartphone and wifi controlled camera would be better or easier than composing with the LCD so far away?



May 26, 2013 at 02:30 PM
 

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Massimo Foti
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p.1 #8 · An "alt" way to use a monopod


mirkoc wrote:
[Massimo, thanks for sharing ideas and impressions. You may check if DSLR Controller android app works with G1X. You still have to use a cable but can compose on an auxiliary screen.


As I said, I am pretty sure I will move in that direction, but my mobile phone belongs to the stone age and asking my teenage daughter to lend his smartphone whenever I do my shooting would be unpractical

For now I am watching the way things evolve and stick with my current gear (including the old phone).
Thanks for the pointer anyway, I may do some tests with my daughter, since she enjoy photography too.


Edited on May 26, 2013 at 02:35 PM · View previous versions



May 26, 2013 at 02:30 PM
Massimo Foti
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p.1 #9 · An "alt" way to use a monopod


ytwong wrote:
Do you think using a smartphone and wifi controlled camera would be better or easier than composing with the LCD so far away?


That's what I would expect, but I haven't tried any wifi controlled camera yet, so I am just speculating. Maybe this discussion may inspire somebody to run some test.
In my specific case the LCD is both far away and above, it gets tiring for my neck after not that long.
Finally, outdoor the sun may also get in the way.



May 26, 2013 at 02:34 PM
helimat
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p.1 #10 · An "alt" way to use a monopod


The 6D + iPhone via direct wifi works great, I think it would be good for this type of application. Have to think the implementation will just get better too...
Anyways I checked out your photostream. Pretty cool stuff!



May 26, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Massimo Foti
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p.1 #11 · An "alt" way to use a monopod


The 6D is both heavy and expensive compared to the G1X, I would feel uncomfortable having it on a monopod above my head. But it's good to hear it works well, thanks.


May 27, 2013 at 04:29 AM
Qwerty64
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p.1 #12 · An "alt" way to use a monopod


For modellers, the level of details in your photos is excellent.
You may want to look at the pole made by Nodal Ninja. It's a monopod that extends up to 9 feet (18 feet with optional extension unit). It's used to do panoramics or arial perspective images like you are doing.
see:
http://shop.nodalninja.com/pole-series-2-upper-unit-f7101/
http://shop.nodalninja.com/pole-series-1-upper-unit-f7100/



May 27, 2013 at 02:48 PM
ytwong
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p.1 #13 · An "alt" way to use a monopod


I just tried the WiFi remote function of my NEX-6, i think it's too basic...no AF area selection, manual focus, iso, aperture, zoom (with a power zoom lens)...

Next time you can try to use a drone



May 27, 2013 at 04:44 PM
Massimo Foti
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p.1 #14 · An "alt" way to use a monopod


Qwerty64 wrote:
For modellers, the level of details in your photos is excellent.
You may want to look at the pole made by Nodal Ninja. It's a monopod that extends up to 9 feet (18 feet with optional extension unit). It's used to do panoramics or arial perspective images like you are doing.
see:


I wasn't aware of that, thanks!
18 feet would be overkilling and most likely cause alarms among the museum's crews
The 9 feet pole sound cool. But I am afraid that would require remote control, I don't think I would be able to compose looking at the LCD 9 feet above my head...




May 27, 2013 at 08:08 PM





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