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Another Way to Keep The Walls Straight

Published: 12/06/2007
By: larry

Cheri Irwin reports that her new Manfrotto 682B monopod with retractable legs has sped up her work flow by helping keep her camera straight. She says:

"Since falling walls always seem to be an issue for us, especially those who shoot off-tripod, I found a really great item. I have been shooting on a tripod for some time now, but I hate that it doesn’t give me much flexibility in the case of photographing tight, cramped spaces. Even then, I was still having trouble getting my tripod completely level, and then you still have to take into account variances in terrain, i.e. a rug on the floor that is not easily moved.

So I started looking at monopods, but I didn’t like the idea of not being able to leave my camera on it without fear of it sliding off of whatever I might lean it upon. Can you imagine the horror of your camera slamming to the floor? In my research, I found a monopod made by Bogen/Manfrotto with retractable legs. I shot with it for the first time today, and it is the perfect solution! It fits in really tight spaces, I can leave my camera on it and walk away and best of all, it is a sure thing for getting perfect verticals! I see that converging Verticals will now be a thing of the past for me. No need to fix any of my lines, since they are already perfectly lined up. And of course, that breaks my editing time nearly in half!"

Thanks Cherie for passing on your experiences with your new purchase.

16 comments on “Another Way to Keep The Walls Straight”

  1. My accessory shoe is occupied by the flash, so I must rely on the bubble on the tripod, or the viewfinder, or estimation, or software perspective correction.

    To fit in tight spaces, I often fold the legs of my tripod. It's a cheap Chinese model with an umbrella-like mechanism, with a center column and linking arms, and it stays level when doing so, a fast adjustment lacking on higher-end model with independent legs. Also I don't expand the legs all the but the column to have less footprint.

    I do like the lack of moving head on the monopod, removing the level adjustement risk and waste of time. My next tripod won't have any, and it have to be light and compact enough to be carried on a bike. And to be sturdy and stable enough to set the horizontality once per shot. I would prefer to chose in a real shop than picking in the plethora of expensive manfrotto on the net.

    Are the tiny legs on the tripod really enough to support the weight? Don't they flex a bit like a suspension?

  2. I would never walk away from this tripod and camera set up. It looks handy for fast and flexible shooting, but it's not intended to handle the weight of dslr-lens. I might buy one and try it out. But with all the animals, kids and adults in a home, I'd never get further than catching range from it.

  3. The legs are made of steel, and they are quite sturdy. I have no problem leaving my camera on it and walking away when there are no dogs or kids around, which is often the case for me. I'm usually the only one there when I shoot. And if there are pets, I request that they be contained during the shoot. I have Lockbox/Supra key access, so I often times access properties when there is no one there. I can't tell you how much of a benefit that is! I can move through a house at twice the speed when I don't have to talk to anyone, tell people that they are in my frame or ask if I can move something.

    About the monopod, of course it isn't as sturdy as a tripod with a wide base. How could you expect it to be? But, it is a great alternative for me. It is definitely sturdy enough to hold my camera, wide angle lens and flash. And, you are probably right, I wouldn't trust it more than an arm's length away if there were kids running around, but I never trust my gear with kids running around anyway. With regard to stillness for long exposures, I believe that it is probably the trembling of my own hand that would cause a problem. You'd probaby want to use a wireless transmitter or your camera's auto-timer. By the way, this was is made for a DSLR/Lens combo, as the 3D head that I chose supports up 26 pounds. Since, I don't shoot with a long telephoto lens, I didn't need to worry about a lens support. And I tried it out at my local camera shop prior to making the purchase just to make sure that it would suit my needs. Of course there are cons, but the flexibility it offers along with the fact that it maintains itself perfectly level made it a winner in my book. Personally, I will never go back to a bulky tripod again for shooting interiors.

  4. Also, a hotshoe bubble won't work for you if you have a flash taking up the space. I'm not quite ready to move onto lots of lighting equipment, so I use a couple speedlights to do the job for me. My photos aren't perfect, yet I do quite well. To the average Realtor speed, flexibility, price and good customer service are just as important as good images. Whoever said that "Real Estate photography was about quick and good-sometimes not perfect", put it well.

  5. I've used the Manfrotto Tripod for a couple of years now and while I agree that it is very handy for tight spaces I would never ever leave my camera standing on it. I always lay it down if it's not in my hand. A $200 repair bill on a lens convinced me that this is not a good idea. Of course you have to make your own chioces but as corny as this may sound, I am speaking with the voice of experience.

    The Monopod is an awsome tool and I wouldn't trade mine for the world just respect it for it's limitations.


  6. Thanks for the tip Cherie. I think I"m going to order one. When I looked at a similar tripod/walking stick combo I was told it not for a dslr. This may have more stability. Regular tripods are freakin cumbersome for 'quick and good".

  7. It works really great as I've been using it for a couple of years now also. Gary's comment is valuable because mine has almost fallen over a couple of times - mostly when the 3-way head adjustment knobs were't completely tightened and they slipped. The biggest annoyance with it is the legs always seem to loosen up a little. When time allows, I want to try to put a 3-way head on top of a 4-legged walking cane. The bases have different sizes and the 12" x 12" one seems to be the one I'll try.

    A technique I've used with it when shooting small rooms like laundries and bathrooms is to tilt the 3-way head so I can put the back of the camera flush against the wall and only have 2 of the 3 legs in contact with the floor. The extra few inches usually give me enough HFOV that I can use a correction filter to get most of the room.

  8. This is too funny. I just bought that exact monopod the other day for the exact same reason. I hope to try it this weekend.

    I recently started using multiple strobes and already I was spending as much time reshooting for correct verticals, as I was for adjusting strobe output.

    This is a bit of a pain since I'm now shooting from my knees and the more time you spend, the more wobbly you get trying to get the freehand shots straight.

    I am using Lightroom so I don't have perspective correction, nor do I want to get into that if I don't have too.

    Anyway, I don't know if I will use the feet or not. This was the model of choice because the others in the store would not go LOW enough.

  9. M James, just wanted to let you know that I tried out my monopod in a really dark, paneled basement this afternoon, which required really long exposures. I steadied held the monopod steady with my left hand, so there would be no wobbling whatsoever, and it worked like a charm. The legs do a pretty good job of holding it in place, but with a steady grip, there's not much chance of blurring the shot. I was so excited when I began reviewing my shots because they were perfectly focused and sharp as a pin!

  10. I just used it for the first time on Saturday and I really liked it. I didn't use the tripod legs.

  11. I was in the same situation, so I went to try this solution, but wasn't totally satisfied, I found it not stable enough for my brutal colleagues. So I searched and found a tripod aimed for video cameras: the head doesn't rotates in portrait mode. It's a blessing for me, and the central junction between the legs locks into place, so I keep the horizontal level, reduce the tripod footprint and can move it easily. I removed the handle to not get it in the way.

    I discuss it in a flickr thread where I expose my location monitor:

  12. Hi Everyone
    I am a Realtor who likes to DIY. I use a Manfrotto ball head Tripod with a bubble level in my flash slot. Use 2 leg tripod approach against walls in bathrooms. Also use Hoodman H-Rav 90 deg eyepiece which I love on my Nikon D80 with Tamron 11-18mm. I try to shoot level at 4 ft height in an 8 ft high room. But if I want to capture the gleaming hardwood floor I shoot down a bit, and correct for tilt afterwards.
    Often in low light rooms, I sort of shoot 5-25 secs at f16-22 with available room light, and may supplement with a bunch of cheap goosenecks tucked away behind sofas etc. I tend to keep window shutters 90% closed if possible to avoid blue burnout. I wave, in a circular motion behind/beside camera, a cheap handheld alum reflector lamp with 60-100 watt bulb to "paint out" dark areas (like the face of low kitchen cabinets or dark sofas.) I prefer available light to the flash approach.

    If room has lots of window light pouring in, I may use a ceiling bounce for fill if required - Nikon SB800 with white reflector card up. 1 or 2 SB600s at 45 degree spread if necess.

    I have Photoshop - use when I must, but for routine work I LOVE MS Digital Imaging Suite as I can do 90% of my editing with it VERY fast. Corrects convergence in seconds. And does most everything that PS does, but in half the time. (I usually have to plough thru 200+ shots and narrow down to 20 - 30, which I have to quickly edit, then build into my custom website, all in a day! So fast editing is essential. Sometimes my wife stages in the morning, I shoot in the afternoon, edit/build at night and we go live online the next day!)

    I also do my own virtual 360 tours with a Nikon 4500 with a 190 degree fisheye. (And my own Cad floorplans.)

    Love mixing my hobby with work! Been at it a year now, and am somewhat along the leaning curve. Just learned of your site. Love it. My first post! Cheers!

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