Monopods are indispensable for adding stability in tight quarters. I use one for virtually every sports shoot because it helps steady my equipment and supports the heavy weight of my long lenses, all without getting in the way of athletes or significantly hindering my maneuverability. I was quite content with my aluminum Manfrotto head and leg system until I was wowed by the Gitzo-Really Right Stuff tripod combination. The only thing better than having a Gitzo-RRS tripod is having a Gitzo-RRS tripod and Gitzo-RRS monopod!
Gitzo: A great tripod experience led me strait to the series 3 monopods by Gitzo, specifically the GM3551 (see my explanation in yesterday's blog post, but this code represents a Gitzo Monopod, series 3, carbon (5) leg, 5 sections, 1st edition of this model.) I chose the 5-section version because I often do need a shorter monopod so that I can shoot while sitting on the ground, and so that it is easier to carry inside a large camera bag if needed. The monopod extends from 21.3 inches to a stunning 75.6 inches. I thought that I couldn't possibly use a monopod well over 6 feet until I first used it in the stands of a hockey game and had the option of grounding the rubber foot on a lower level, and subsequently was able to hold the camera on the monopod high above a lacrosse team huddle to capture a unique angle of the game.
Gitzo reports that the GM3551 weighs only 1.37 pounds but its carbon strength can support up to 40 pounds of equipment. My only distrust is the webbed handle (great for backup, but I wouldn't trust all my gear to this strap) and the screw mount. I worry that the head could unexpectedly loosen from the screw mount, so I will be conscious to check it regularly.
Really Right Stuff: I selected the RRS MH-01LR monopod head with a B2 ASII quick release clamp. This system utilizes the same plates for my camera body and long lenses as my tripod system, which makes the systems conveniently compatible. It is steady, smooth to adjust, and quick to mount--everything that I could need from a monopod.
Similar to my tripod set-up, I knew that I needed a sleek, safe way to transit my monopod when it wasn't in use. I found Gitzo's case intended for its smaller series one tripods to be a perfect fit for the series 3 monopod with head attached. Seen above and below is the GC1100 bag by Gitzo. Gitzo reports that it is 3.6" in diameter and 25.6" long--a size that fits the monopod with head securely with a convenient double zipper, handles and adjustable shoulder strap, and plenty of padding to keep the system safe in transit.
The Really Right Stuff L84 plate is custom made for Canon's 70-200L IS lens. I also purchased a plate that remains attached at all times to my 5Dmarkiii body.