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I bought the Manfrotto 680b monopod last year for some added support when using longer lenses for sports and racing photography. Although I've owned a couple of tripods a monopod is a better solution for any photography that requires you to move around freely and quickly with the camera which makes it ideal for sports, wildlife and racing photography. A tripod obviously has 3 legs which allow it to stand on it's own with a monopod there's only one tube with adjustable length so you have to hold it steady but it allows more stabilisation to get the best results with your shots. With a tripod you have to set it up each time you move it and ensure it is level whereas with a monopod you just pick it up and go although a monopod doesn't provide the stability of a tripod it still offers a more stable base than hand holding your camera.The other bonus of using a monopod is many sports grounds and events will not allow you to use a tripod due to health and safety (usually incase someone trips over it!) but you will usually be allowed to use a monopod. The Manfrotto is a compact monopod which measures 20.8 inches closed with 4 sections at the bottom which allow extension to the maximum of 60.63 inches. The monopod is made of lightweight aluminium and weighs 1.8Ibs so it's light and compact enough to strap to your camera bag without adding too much weight and it's a bit more portable than the average tripod. The monopod has a 60mm platform with dual 1/4 and 3/8 screw to attach your camera or lens to the monopod. The monopod can also be used with most of the Manfrotto heads which gives you more control over the angle of the camera without losing the stability of the monopod by tilting it. I would recommend buying a head at the same time if you can afford the initial outlay as I found it made a huge difference compared to having the camera or lens mounted directly to the mounting plate. The Manfrotto 680b has a maximum load capacity of 22Ibs so it can easily cope with heavier pro cameras and the extra weight of long lenses. The monopod has 4 clips to adjust the 680B to the right length these are easy to open and clamp shut so it's easy to adjust quickly and the clips seem sturdy and hold well so there's no worries of the monopod slipping. The handle has a decent grip which is comfortable to hold and there's also a wrist strap for added security so even if the monopod slips your camera gear isn't going to head to the ground. I've found that having the monopod has made a difference to the results I get shooting sports now compared to when I hand held the camera. It's also made a huge difference in shots that require panning to capture motion in a racing picture rather than a car or bike frozen against a track that looks like everything is stood still the shot looks better if you can blur the background and keep the bike or car clear in the shot. Overall the Manfrotto is a great well made monopod at a reasonable price which should provide years of use for any amateur or semi pro photographer. The Manfrotto currently costs from £44 online at Amazon to £49.95 from high street photo shop Jessops. My monopod is used with the Manfrotto 496RC2 ball head which costs around £49 from Amazon.
Black anodized aluminum four section monopod featuring sure rubber grip, wrist carrying strap, quick action lever leg lock system with 45° flip, large 2.3" camera/head platform with plastic cover and dual 1/4-20" - 3/8" camera screw.