I’ve found that a lot of my photography now consists of taking pictures at sporting events. Whether it is along the side of a baseball field or positioned near a soccer field, the shooting is of sports.
Because I cannot always be as close to the action as I would like, it has become a necessity to use a long lens to properly capture the action. The problem with these longer lenses is that they can be quite heavy.
Weight is not the only issue though. Since we live in Arizona where summer temperatures are consistently above 110 degrees, many of the sporting events are played at night away from the hot sun. Nighttime events have their own set of challenges especially when it comes to lighting.
Most of the venues are inadequately lit for photography requiring the use of slow shutter speeds and wide-open lenses. This of course makes photography a challenge and requires adapting to the environment.
Hand-held photography is difficult with the large lenses and low shutter speeds. Typically you would use a tripod to overcome these issues but tripods are forbidden in most sports venues. For this reason I chose a monopod.
The monopod allows for stability of the lens and provides the necessary support to allow for slower shutter speeds required for lowlight shooting modes.
As I began researching monopods I was amazed to find how many models there were and the variety of selection. Before long I was fairly confused and frustrated as it seemed that every new article I read contradicted what I had just read previously.
I finally made a decision selecting the Gitzo GM3551 Series 3 monopod. I selected this monopod for several reasons. Perhaps the most important aspect of this particular model was the sturdiness of the monopod. It is able to support up to 39 pounds well past what I would need with even the largest of lenses.
The Gitzo GM3551 includes five leg segments, which are adjusted with a twisting action at each joint. The segments slide easily and when locked into place they are very secure even with a fully loaded camera and lens attached.
The height can be adjusted from a minimum of 21 inches to a maximum of 75 inches. This is a fairly wide range and gives me an opportunity to adjust the monopod to the proper height whether I am sitting, kneeling or standing. The height adjustment can be made with one hand allowing me to cradle the camera equipment while I adjust the monopod. This is extremely valuable when patrolling the sideline of an event.
The GM3551 is a carbon fiber monopod. I choose carbon fiber for two reasons. First, it does not get extremely hot when working in the daytime. This is especially important in Arizona where metal tripods and monopods can cause serious burns after a few hours in the sun. Secondly, the carbon fiber monopod is extremely light. When the camera and lens is already quite heavy you begin to find any way you can to make your equipment as light as possible.
I have had the Gitzo GM3551 for a couple of months now and have found it to be durable and dependable in the field. It has allowed me to get the shots needed regardless of the environment or the lighting. While it cannot magically make your pictures better, it does give you the support necessary to make your shots clearer.