A monopod can make your job much easier if you’re using a heavy lens for sports photography. For some lenses, you might even need one to have a good experience. However, buying one can be confusing since they’re more obscure than other gear.
I’m Caleb, and I have five years of experience with sports photography. I’ve shot many events across several sports, including football, soccer, and basketball.
In this article, I’ll talk about monopods and which ones stand out as the best for sports photography. I’ll also explain what makes for a quality one in the first place. If you’re considering buying a monopod and are unsure which one to get, just keep reading.
- Stability is king when using a monopod for sports photography. The last thing you want is to catch a great action shot only to have it come out blurry because of the monopod wobbling!
- High-quality materials can help with stability and durability. For example, the 3 Legged Thing Punks Trent 2.0 is made of magnesium alloy, and the SIRUI AM-326M is made from carbon fiber.
- If you aren’t planning on using a heavy lens, you can save a lot by getting a cheaper option like the Altura Photo 62-Inch Camera Monopod.
Do Sports Photographers Use Tripods?
Sports photographers generally use monopods over tripods since tripods take up more space and are much harder to move around with.
What Are The Cons of a Monopod?
The main con of a monopod is that it’s another piece of equipment to carry. If you’re already carrying a lot of things with you, that might be an annoying downside.
What Makes The Best Monopod for Sports Photography
Here are some important traits you should look for if you’re buying a monopod for sports photography.
- Sturdiness: Stability is the most important thing for your monopod. It has to keep steady even if it has the weight of a large lens resting against it.
- Material: You may find better results getting a monopod made from high-quality materials. While this alone doesn’t make the product, suitable materials mean flimsy construction is less likely.
- Portability: Consider how compact the monopod is. Sometimes, it’s worth sacrificing other features to make the product easier to carry and deploy.
- Ergonomics: Obviously, you should aim for a monopod that feels good to use.
Best Monopods for Sports Photography Reviewed
These are the best three monopods for sports photography, in my opinion. Each one excels in a different area, so you’ll find one for your needs no matter what you’re looking for.
1. 3 Legged Thing Punks Trent 2.0 (Best Overall)
- Material: Magnesium alloy
- Maximum Height: 79.5 inches
- Minimum Height: 23.7 inches
- Maximum Load: 66 pounds
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Trent 2.0 is an upgraded version of a predecessor from the same company, and it comes in as the tallest monopod on this list. If you’re looking for height, you’ll find what you’re looking for with this one. It extends to 79.5 inches.
You don’t have to worry about flimsy construction or poor materials, either. The Trent 2.0 is made from magnesium alloy, and the build is sturdy.
Another one of this design’s strengths is its versatility. You can use it vertically or horizontally, allowing it to easily double as a boom for a video camera or microphone.
And speaking of versatility, the rubber part at the bottom can be replaced by different accessories that are sold separately, such as the Docz 2 Foot Stabilizer.
The main con for this monopod ironically ties into its considerable strength: size. Since it only collapses to 23.7 inches, this one is not the best option if you want something compact.
My Verdict: Thanks to its impressive size and its versatility, the 3 Legged Thing Trent 2.0 is a good choice for sports photographers and videographers alike.
2. SIRUI AM-326M 6 Camera Monopod (Best Compact Monopod)
- Material: Carbon fiber
- Maximum Height: 61 inches
- Minimum Height: 15.6 inches
- Maximum Load: 22 pounds
If you’re looking for a lightweight monopod, the SIRUI AM-326M may be the one you need. It comes in at 0.9 pounds, making it lighter than the 1.6-pound Trent 2.0.
Despite the smaller size and lightweight build, it can still hold a good amount of weight. Its maximum load is 22 pounds, and for reference, Canon’s f/2.8 400mm lens only weighs about half of that.
Speaking of a smaller build, this monopod has the smallest minimum height on the list. This is the one to get if you need a monopod that won’t take up too much space with your other gear.
It extends to 61 inches, so while the maximum length isn’t on the same tier as the Trent 2.0, it’s still good enough to cover the needs of most sports photographers.
As for downsides, the main one here is the max load. While it is enough to work with even some super-telephoto lenses and full-frame cameras, you might need a stronger option if you have a really heavy setup.
My Verdict: If you want a compact monopod that can still hold its own in load capacity, the SIRUI AM-326M is an excellent choice for you.
3. Altura Photo 62-Inch Camera Monopod (Best For Small Lenses)
- Material: Aluminum
- Maximum Height: 62 inches
- Minimum Height: 16.7 inches
- Maximum Load: 5 pounds
One of the best things about the Altura Photo 62-Inch Camera Monopod is that it’s pretty inexpensive compared to the other two models on this list. That’s because it’s targeting a different crowd, specifically the one with lighter camera setups.
This one doesn’t collapse as far as the SIRUI AM-326M, but it does come relatively close. It’s extendable to 62 inches, which actually beats out the SIRUI model by an inch.
Despite its lightweight and compact nature, this monopod does feature a rubber foot with a retractable spike to help fix it to one spot.
Thanks to the lighter design compared to something like the Trent 2.0, it’s also pretty easy to carry the Altura monopod on the outside of a camera bag.
It does, however, have an inherent problem. It only supports up to 5 pounds, so this setup will only work if you use a smaller lens setup. Regardless, it’s worth including here, as not every sport needs a giant, weighty lens.
My Verdict: The Altura Photo 62-Inch Camera Monopod is the right choice if you need an inexpensive monopod and aren’t planning on using heavy lenses.
When considering camera gear, it’s easy to forget monopods. But when you’re shooting a prolonged sporting event and have a weighty lens, they can go a long way to keep you from getting tired. Hopefully, you’ve found one that fits what you’re looking for.
Do you have any thoughts of your own about the best monopods? Let us know in the comments!