Photo of the Benro A48FBS6 Video Monopod Kit

For those times when the tripod is too heavy, too space hoggy or just too much bother, and that handheld image quality isn’t going to cut it either, consider using a monopod. A monopod is a great in-between solution that won’t be as stable as a tripod, but will be a lot more so than a purely handheld shot. While there are a number of choices available, we found the A48FBS6 video monopod kit from Benro to be a good one with some nice options. 

Everything but the Packaging

The monopod (A48FB)/video head (S6) combination comes ready to rumble in a travel case with double carrying handles, shoulder strap, interior zippered pouch, tool kit (for tension adjustments) and quick release plate. There’s also a twist lock version with large bands for twisting, but we stuck to the flip lock for this review. 

Good to Go

The prefix, “mono” refers to one of something, so where a tripod is a stabilizing device with three legs, a monopod has only one. Consequently it is much lighter, takes up less space and is likely to fall over if you don’t keep hold of it. Now, that falling over thing may seem somewhat of a disadvantage, but the benefits of using a monopod are plenty. A monopod can take your camera where a big, heavy tripod dare not go, as well as provide stable image quality and much needed relief during lengthy, otherwise, handheld shots.

For example, we recently attended an elementary school’s musical program. Knowing that space would be in short supply, we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to try out the monopod. Sure enough, there was standing room only and spreading out a bulky tripod would have gained us some angry stares and verbal abuse at the very least.

The leg sections fold down to about 30-inches tall, perfect for shooting from a seated position.

Going camera-only is certainly an option when space is sparse, but that’s a lot of hand holding, which leads to a great deal of fatigue and much shakier image quality. The monopod is an excellent solution, allowing greater stability and fatigue relief. The light weight (less than five pounds) and small size of the monopod adds up to greater mobility too. When someone steps in front of you, or you want a different angle, simply pick it up and move to a better position.

The leg sections fold down to about 30-inches tall, perfect for shooting from a seated position. 

Close up of the three-legged base.
Latches for extending the monopod
When standing, simply flip one or more of the three locking levers and an additional section of the ‘pod slides down, extending its length to more than 70-inches. The monopod rests on a thick rubber pad with the option of engaging one or more of three individual feet to provide greater stability. The head has a fluid filled pan cartridge for very smooth pans by simply rotating the thickly cushioned grip or using the adjustable length pan bar handle. For super smooth tilts use the handle to tilt the video head as you would any tripod or simply lean the monopod forward or backward. 
Close up of the three-legged base.
Close up of the three-legged base.
The leg is attached to a ball joint that allows for such movement, including laterally, in case you want to throw in a dutch angle or two. In most cases, since you will likely want your shots as level as possible, the monopod includes a built-in bubble level. If you’re in the dark, as in the case of our school program, simply push the flat blue button and the level lights up.

If you’re shooting an event and find tall people or other obstacles blocking your view, you can hoist the ‘pod above the crowd. Take a solid, stable stance, knees slightly bent to act as shock absorbers and pull the base firmly into your hip or waist. It won’t be quite as stable as on the ground and you’ll need an articulating screen on your camera, or a remote monitor, to properly frame your shots, but it’s better than missing the shot altogether and you can still get some nice pans and tilts where needed. 

Options

We shot our school program with a very basic point and shoot camera with great results. However, we wanted to see how it handled something a bit meatier, so away from the crowd, we mounted up a nearly eight pound front-end heavy Canon XL2 with a large 20x lens. While most users are unlikely to handle this much weight, the monopod is rated for more than 13lb. 

Fluid head tension adjuster
A very nice option included on the S6 video head is a 3-step counterbalance. These adjustments counter the weight of the camera to keep it from pitching forward, as our camera is prone to do. Set to zero resistance, the camera will flop forward with a clunk, not a good thing, to say the least. Set to three, the camera slowly descends forward and comes to a very soft stop without any jarring shudders at all, a great safety feature. The head also includes a tilt drag control knob with ratcheting tilt and pan locking levers.

We really like using a monopod as an alternative to bulkier tripods for run-n-gun or close quarters shooting. The Benro A48FBS6 video monopod kit is a great choice, with a solid build and excellent options. 

See the Benro in action

Benro
www.benro.com
$249

Tech Specs

Maximum Load: 13.2lb. (6kg)
Height: 27.8” (70.6cm) folded; 70.5” (179.1cm) (extended)
Number of Leg Sections: 4
Leg Lock Type: Flip lock/Twist lock
Tilt Range: +90/-75 (stepped 0-3 fluid cartridge balance)
Drag Control: Lock
Separate Panning Lock: Yes
Quick Release Plate: Slide-In Video (QR6) 1/4”-20 and 3/8"
Spiked Feet: Folding 3 Leg Base
Head Mount Thread Size: 1/4”-20 and 3/8"-16
Warranty: 5 years (3 years at purchase + 2 additional years after online registration)
Weight: 4.6lb. (2.1kg)

Strengths

  • Solid build; aluminum construction
  • Mobile, versatile
  • 3-step counterbalance
  • Lighted bubble level
  • Pan and tilt drag controls

Weaknesses

  • Unlike a tripod, will fall over if not properly supported

Contributing Editor Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I bought this very monopod with the S4 head in January for a film shoot in Belize C.A.. After a week of muck & mire shooting an Adventure Race [http://www.mayamountainadventurechallenge.com/] I am extremely pleased with my purchase.  No doubt that Manfrotto is good, but for $100. less (for the Benro) taken into a jungle enviroment I couldn't go wrong here.  Only one small issue was the top clamp came loose.  A quick fix to tighten. 

  2. I bought one of these last year…let the guy at Samy's Camera talk me out of the comparable Manfrotto. What a nice find! Saved me 80 bucs, too! This 'pod is so well balanced with my GH2 riding on board, that it's almost like a glidecam! I've used it for 2 weddings and a golf tournament and am very happy with the results. Plus, I can extend it all the way out and grab a nice elevated shot or two. It's not a jib, but I can get close to a jib move while saving a few hundred bucks. Great tool…great value!

  3. This is not available in the UK

     

    Two of us wish to buy one each – could you please advise name of distributer

     

    Many thanks

     

    Ivan Starkey

  4. There is no question this is a great buy at $250 bucks! But I will say there is one feature that I have come to rely on that does not seem to be one of the features on the Benro Unit. Most newer Camcorders like the XA25, the one I use for run and gun, have built in levels, and I use it for balancing refernce which makes for less chance of missing the shot. But what the Manfrotto 561BHDV-1(which has been discontiued) can do, with the XA25 Mounted with an XLR Mic is STAND UP all by itseff! The ball swivel at the base is visibly more robust (larger). This feature alone makes it worth the price increase and should be considered when purchasing a Monopod that will be used a lot. Imagine being able to find a little space where only the monopod can be, set the hieght and walk away from it! With the remote if I have my eyes on the viewfinder I can zoom in and out too! This feature expands the possibilities of multi-cam shoots when bodies are sparse or the budget can't afford it.

     

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