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The other day, I got into a debate with a friend of mine. He was torn between getting a monopod vs. a tripod for his upcoming shoot in the wild. We couldn’t agree on the type of camera stand for that occasion as it was just a one-off shoot. He usually does regular photoshoots in his studio and covers some outdoor events, so this wasn’t a usual project for him.
As we looked around online, we noticed there are a ton of guides on buying a monopod or a tripod, but not too many that directly compared monopods and tripods. So, we set out to share and identify the best products in each category. Read our top reviews and handy buying tips and save a little time as you search for the best monopod or tripod.
Top Monopods and Tripods – Our Picks
Best Monopod and Tripod Reviews 2019
The Manfrotto XPRO five-section Monopod is hands down the sturdiest monopod in its price range. It is built from high-quality aluminum that lends itself for use in the most rugged conditions.
- Five sections
- Max load of 13.23 lbs.
- 67 to 60.24-inch height
- Built from aluminum
- Has a turn-lock leg
- 19-degree positive and negative tilt range
- 360-degree panoramic rotation
With five sections, the Manfrotto XPRO extends to an unmatched height compared to similar monopods. It also has a sturdy build with an aluminum body. With its twist locks, you can comfortably hold even the heaviest camera without worrying about breaking anything.
The XPRO is not the most compact monopod stand out there. When ultimately shortened, it is still longer than other monopods in its price range. It might not exactly fit into a small bag. However, it is well worth the extra height.
- Easy to adjust
- Highly portable
- Thoughtful design
- Two fluid heads
- Sturdy aluminum build
- Not suitable for heavy cameras
- No shoulder strap
The XPRO is far from the lightest monopod in the market, but it is sturdy and easy to setup. It’s also stable enough to allow you to focus steadily and take marvelous shots at any height.
Overall Score – 4.6/5
The Benro Go Plus Travel hits all the right chords when it comes to a full-featured tripod stand. Thanks to its rugged design, you can take your tripod anywhere you want without breaking anything.
- Carbon fiber
- 16-inch max-height
- Max load of 30.9 lbs.
- Has four sections on each leg
- Weighs 4.23 lbs.
What I Like
The Benro Go plus has an excellent pivoting system that allows you to rotate a full 180 degrees, with different locks options. You can take horizontal shots, vertical shots, and inverted shots comfortably.
Besides its versatility, the center column makes this unit more compact for easy transportation. The other good thing is that you can convert your Benro Go into a monopod stand by using one of its legs.
As well as having many features, it has above-board versatility that allows you to use it as a monopod with some tricks.
What I Don’t Like
One of the things we didn’t love about the Benro Go Plus Travel is that its legs and heads are sold separately. This aspect obviously increases the overall cost. However, the advantage here is that you can choose a custom head that you love or are already familiar with.
- Extremely versatile features
- Solid aluminum tubing
- Foldable travel design
- Solid carbon selfie stick
- Padded case with pockets
- Quite expensive
- Not sold as a unit
The Ben Pro Go mashes up the compactness of a portable tripod and the versatility of the center column. It’s suitable for those who want to explore low-level macro photography in different terrains.
Overall Score – 4.6/5
The VEO 2 is yet another wonderful monopod that provides exceptional support and handy features for all your outdoor shoots. It has a neat and sturdy design that looks good with your equipment and offers enough support to shoot those moving targets quickly.
- Strong aluminum body
- Four sections
- Advanced twist-leg locks
- 64-inch max-height
- 22-inch closed height
What I Like
One of the features I love about the Vanguard VEO 2 AM-264TR is the retractable three-legged base support. Not only does it offer a stable base once you fold it, but you also have a rubber tip that you can use.
Besides, this monopod has a beautiful rubber grip at the top coupled with buttery smooth twist locks that are secure and easy-to-open.
What I Don’t Like
The Vanguard VEO 2 AM-264TR is not the most compact monopod out there. It is fifty-six centimeters long when closed making it one of the longest. As a result, it’s not a natural fit for a small back.
- Super stable with three legs
- Straight-forward twist locks
- Nice accessories
- Protective rubber transport cap
- Durable anthracite finish
- Heavier than other models
- The bottom piece is wobbly
The Vanguard is an easy-to-use monopod that offers unbelievable stability plus a ton of features at a fraction of the cost. Since it’s durable, the VEO 2 AM-264TR can serve you for years to come.
Overall Score – 4.5/5
Novo Explora T5 – Best Value
The Explora T5 is a lightweight tripod stand that comes with many beautiful features. It has a carbon-fiber body that is durable and light in weight at the same time. You can use it for all your outdoor shoots or indoor shoots.
- Carbon fiber body
- 5-inch height when folded
- Weighs 3.15 lbs.
- Max load of 22 lbs.
- Four section legs
- 4-inch max-height
What I Like
The Nova Explora T5 offers a balanced weight-to-performance ratio. Built from carbon fiber, it allows a smaller footprint with a 22-pound max load capacity.
The other thing that I like is that it has an ingenious dual pan release mechanism that enables you to rotate either the head or the camera platform alone.
What I Don’t Like
Unlike other tripods, the Nova Explora T5 does not come with a pivoting center. This absence means you may have some restrictions when taking some of your shots. The max height could also be a little higher.
We also noticed that the bubble level isn’t clear enough, making it hard to adjust the legs for the perfect shooting level.
- Dual-purpose construction
- Padded carrying case
- Sprung hook for extra weight
- Extremely light in weight
- Reversible center column
- No center pivot system
- Not tall enough
Thanks to its stiffer leg sections, the Nova Explora provides greater stability. It is also lightweight, meaning you can move it around quickly. You will find it extremely useful for everyday photography and low-level shots even with hefty payloads.
Overall Score – 4.5/6
If you’re looking for a quality build carbon fiber monopod with unbelievable load capacity, the Three-Legged Thing might be the right option for you. It is an extremely lightweight monopod with a ton of features to boot.
- Carbon Fiber Body
- It has five sections
- Max load of 130 lbs.
- Max height of 58.6-inches
- Folded length of 17.7-inches
- Weighs 1.3 lbs.
What I Like
We couldn’t believe the max load capacity of the Three-Legged Thing. It goes beyond what the average photographer needs for their work. We tested it with a 44-pound load, and it held up pretty well.
Add to that the fact that it weighs a paltry 1.3 pounds, and you get a stand that’s light enough to carry around. Besides being lightweight, it is also durable and offers maximum stability via a retractable three-legged base.
What I Don’t Like
The main problem we have with the Three-Legged Thing is that its sections don’t extend out that far. So it may not suit guys who’re taller than six feet.
- Fast release twist locks
- Durable carbon fiber body
- Extendable height
- One detachable leg
- Not on the cheaper side
- Could be taller
The Three-Legged Thing is an extremely rugged and well-built monopod that can serve you well in different situations. It is suitable for travelers or photographers who want an easy-to-carry monopod that offers maximum support and stability across the range.
Overall Score – 4.6
The Alta Pro 2+ is a robust tripod made to last a long time and endure stressful situations. It arrives with excellent features that allow you to take creative shots and incredible angled shots. You can use it comfortably on slippery surfaces as its feet are fitted with anti-slip rubber.
- Carbon Fiber body
- Folded height 29.25-inches
- Weight 4.75 lbs.
- Two section legs
- Max height of 68.25-inches
What I Like
One of the best things about Vanguard ALTA PRO 2+ is the quick setup. It offers a remarkably fast installation process with secure locks that prevent accidental folding.
The 180-degree pivot system in the center allows you to take shots of moving targets while maintaining the stability of the tripod. It uses the Arca-type quick release system with an integrated safety pin and rust-free center ball, so you can pan it out around without sacrificing control.
What I Don’t Like
The Vanguard ALTA PRO 2+ is a rather long tripod stand. Even when folded, it still exceeds the standard length of other similar models. So, it can be challenging to pack.
The other drawback is that its carrying bag isn’t as good as many in its price range. For instance, it doesn’t come with padding.
- Extremely light body
- Easy to set up
- Anti-slip rubber feet
- Durable construction
- Low-quality carrying bag
- Long when folded
The Vanguard ALTA PRO 2+ is suitable for photographers who want a versatile, usable, and stable tripod for their DSLR cameras. It is also light in weight and portable, hence easy to carry it around.
Overall Score – 4.4/5
Best Monopod and Tripod Buying Tips (2019)
Whether you are an amateur or a pro, at some point in your photography career, you will need to get a monopod or a tripod. There has always been intense debate over the benefits of a monopod vs. tripod. To avoid information overload, we’ll just focus on the essential stuff.
Strength and stability
The top feature to look out for when going for either a monopod or tripod is its strength and stability. So many things could go wrong when you are doing your shoot, and the worst is losing your camera or lens because of an unstable stand. The quality of the shots also matters when considering a stable stand.
Some monopod stands will come with foldable leg supports for added stability.
All stands are adjustable by default. In other words, they’ll allow you to take shots in different heights. Some camera and video stands will extend to a standard or average height and give out under intense weight. If you are tall or above average in height, get yourself a monopod or tripod that fits your height for those perfect shots.
Something else that many people forget when choosing a monopod or tripod is how low the stand can go. If you’re interested in macro photography, go for a piece of equipment that supports low-level shots.
Do you operate from a studio or go outdoors for shoots? If you are in your studio all day every day, portability won’t matter that much to you. So, you can use a lightweight or heavy tripod/monopod. If you’re a traveler or go outdoors for shoots frequently, you want to be sure that you get a lightweight stand for your camera.
We recommend an aluminum stand with carbon fiber parts since they’re lighter than most material yet sturdy. On the downside, both materials may not last for a lifetime.
When shopping around for a camera stand, find out what lock mechanisms your preferred model uses to keep the sections in place. The twist locks are suitable for guys who want secure locks for their cameras or camcorders. If you’re going to make quick adjustments on the fly, go for a stand with the flip lock.
Different types of camera stands offer different levels of grip. Most high-quality stands have a texturized rubber grip, though some models come with a cushioned grip. Your tripod or monopod should be easy to grip and comfortable to carry out when shooting outdoors.
Monopod vs. Tripod
A Tripod is a marvelous camera accessory that every photographer needs. If you usually use bulkier cameras with big lenses, you should consider getting the sturdier and firmer tripod. They’re not only suitable for wildlife photography but work great in low light conditions when you need to control the shutter speed of your camera.
A tripod gives you unbelievable stability when you are shooting stationary objects, whether video or still photographs. They also allow creativity like macro photography, where absolute stability is needed to take very crisp photos.
On the other hand, monopods are suitable for photographers or videographers who frequent motor-cross events or horse racing tracks. In both places, the objects are fast-moving. So, a monopod will offer you the mobility you need to capture moving targets. They are also lighter and less bulky meaning you can pack them in small backpacks and sling them on your back.
Whether you have light or heavy equipment, a monopod is an excellent stand to have when you are shooting videos and taking pictures all day long. It helps stabilize your shots focus on the go and keep energized all through.
After haggling for some time, we finally agreed it is better to have both a monopod and tripod for different occasions. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Some of the cheapest models go for less than a hundred bucks.
We loved the Manfrotto XPRO 5-Section Aluminum Monopod and Benro Go Plus Travel monopod and tripod stands. They are sturdy and made with durable materials (aluminum and carbon fiber). Also, both arrive with a ton of features and can easily extend out to a decent height for the pro photographer.
If you can’t get both, go for a tripod stand with a detachable leg that transforms into a monopod stand. Please, don’t overlook the factors we have shared when you go shopping. They could mean the difference between finding the right camera stand and throwing cash down the drain.