Camera Support Systems: Monopods, Harnesses and Bean Bags, Oh My!
October 10, 2013
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Every once in a while a photographer needs a little support! Using a camera support can mean the difference between a keeper photo and a blurry mystery. Whether you're going for a scenic time-lapse image of nighttime star trails or you need to steady a long, heavy lens while photographing a football game, try one of these little camera helpers.
The most popular camera support, this three-legged apparatus is topped with a "head" to which you attach the base of the camera for stability. The most popular style of head is a ball joint that swivels and tilts so you can twist and turn the camera in several directions while it's mounted on the support.
Tripods have a locking device to keep the camera stable during long exposures, when using cumbersome gear (like a large 600mm lens) or when uneven terrain (such as a rocky trail) makes it difficult for you to stay steady.
The little cousin of the tripod, a monopod has just one leg. A small plate mounted to the base of the camera fits into the top of the monopod to secure the camera. A quick release lever can detach the plate and camera from the monopod; this makes it easy to take the camera off the support with just one click.
Monopods are especially useful for reducing "shaky-hand blur" when using a telephoto lens. They're also helpful when you need to pick up your gear and move quickly, like when you're chasing a football player down the sidelines.
Whether they're round, square or rectangular, these little pebble-filled bags make it simple to take pictures in awkward places. The small bags are equipped with a rivet topped with a universal-size threaded screw that attaches to the base of most cameras. Feeling jittery? Use a bean bag camera support and the self-timer on your camera to ensure a sharp image. Or on your next rock climbing adventure, tuck the bean bag between a few rocks, thread the camera on the mount and set the timer to get a great self portrait of your adventures.
If you need to carry heavy camera gear for hours at a time (think professional sports photographers or nature photographers who hike to their destinations) a vest-style harness is invaluable. This hands-free camera support is strapped around your neck and torso to steady the camera. The harness, which is equipped with a camera-locking mechanism to keep the camera secure, leaves your hands available to maneuver other gear.
What's your favorite way to support a camera during a long exposure or when your gear is heavy?
Photo credit: Stock.xchng