Bogen 3245 Monopod

It has been said that the most important element in creating a sharp photograph is the tripod. Whether a tripod is more critical than the lens can be debated, but clearly good support results in sharper pictures.

In practice, however, it is not always practical to use a tripod due to weight, size, and/or mobility reasons. In these cases, a monopod is often a good alternative. While not providing the level of support of a tripod, a monopod can provide many of the same benefits, especially at higher shutter speeds.

Sports photography is an area where monopods can shine. Outdoor venues typically require the use of a long lens which are difficult to use (or to use for long periods) handheld. One needs to follow the action (and sometimes get out of the way of the action), which requires mobility. Finally, capturing the action requires high shutter speeds. All these factors favor a monopod over a tripod in most situations.

There are numerous monopods available. They vary in size, weight, height, the number of sections, materials, and load capacity. For my use, the most important factor is how easy is it to adjust the height. Since almost all monopods are adjusted by loosening a leg section, telescoping the leg in or out, and retightening, one might wonder why this could be a distinguishing factor? Simply because this process always requires two hands, can be difficult or impossible to do quickly, and is cumbersome at best when there is a camera attached.

The Bogen 3245 monopod (mail order price $78, distributed by Manfrotto, shown at right with the Bogen 3232 head) addresses this problem by allowing the height to be adjusted with a one handed trigger mechanism built into the handle. The monopod consists of three sections, with the first two sections conventionally configured. The third section's height is controlled with the trigger.

The 3245 has a wide circular platform and accommodates either 1/4" or 3/8" sockets. The 3/8" screw surrounds the 1/4" screw. The 1/4" screw is revealed when the 3/8" (which is spring loaded) is recessed. This is a clever design, but one that is susceptible to damage. If a 3/8" head is attached while misaligned, it could crimp the screw against the inner 1/4" screw, locking it in place.

The all metal construction is not light, but is perfectly capable of supporting the largest loads. The operation of the two lower sections is not particularly smooth like the higher end Gitzos and Bogens, which does not inspire confidence about their longevity. The top section's trigger mechanism works well and the internal tension mechanism can be adjusted, if needed.

The ease in which the height can be adjusted with one hand is a delight. There simply is nothing to prevent you from adjusting the height perfectly. No more straining your neck to accommodate a slightly too high or too low viewfinder.

Quadripod?

The flexible height adjustment feature allows the monopod to be used in a somewhat unorthodox manner as shown in the photo at right. Here the 3245 serves as the fourth leg to stabilize a large camera and lens combination. This arrangement is suitable when shooting static objects (e.g. architectural, especially at night).

Here's how it works. Aim the camera alone on the tripod. Once aimed and tightened down, attach the monopod to the body with a few inches of ground clearance. When the monopod is secure, squeeze the trigger and the bottom sections of the 3245 will "fall" to the ground. Release the trigger and you now have the added stability of a fourth contact point.

Conclusion

The Bogen 3245 offers the exceptional and useful feature of one handed height adjustment. If you value this feature, there simply is no alternative. The monopod can support the largest loads, is very reasonably priced, but does not have the build quality of some of its (much) more expensive competitors.

Other Views

Let me know of any other 3245 reviews.

Posted 6/4/3