Professional video filming is normally done with the use of a good tripod, but what if you have limited floor space, you need multiple clips in many locations in quick succession or your filming style is just not suited to a heavy, static tripod setup?
If any of the above applies, or ever has applied to you, an alternative solution for mobile, steady filming on the go would be the Benro A48TBS4 Video Monopod Kit.
A ‘standard’ monopod has two limitations when it comes to videography: stability and the inability to pan and tilt smoothly. The Benro Video Monopod overcomes these with the use of three fold out feet at the base of the monopod and by bundling a pan-tilt video head in this kit.
The fold out feet are compact and fold up neatly against the monopod shaft for easy transport. When deployed and locked, they add stablity to the monopod base by increasing the footprint on the ground. Since they are flat, the camera operator can also ‘stand’ on one of the feet to prevent the base from slipping if needed. At the point where the feet join the base, Benro added a swivelling, lockable joint which allows for the monopod shaft to be tilted up to 15 degrees, in any direction. Combined with the tilt and pan video head, this allows smooth camera movement to be added to otherwise static shots – similar to the effects a rail or jib would provide (although at a much smaller scale). If the swivel joint is locked, the monopod can stand upright on its own. Whether this can be used in place of a tripod, depends on whether a flat surface is available, on weather conditions along with the weight and balance of the camera.
The Benro S4 video head supplied in the kit comes with a quick-release plate, pan handle that can be mounted left or right, friction control for the tilt and pan actions and a built-in spirit level bubble. The video head works well for anything except with really heavy camera and telephoto lens combinations and the pan and tilt actions are smooth and fluid.
The quick-release plate seems to be proprietary, however it is also compatible with the Manfrotto Plate- 501PL. It is the wedge type Arca-Swiss style and features a release catch to prevent the plate (and camera) from accidentally sliding off. The head works well for dedicated video cameras and lenses with tripod collars, but not so well for DSLR cameras used for video. The reason is that the lever used to tighten the plate, is in line with where the DSLR would normally be mounted on the head and since a DSLR is so wide, the fastening lever hits the bottom of the DSLR when rotated. The camera mounting screw can slide in a slot on the plate, so one solution is to mount the DSLR off centre on the plate in order to clear the fastening lever. Both ¼” and 3/8” tripod mounting screws are supplied for the quick release plate.
The monopod itself is made from Alumium-Magnesium alloy, with 4-sections that tighten with rotating twist locks and can extend up to around 1.8m in total. Just beneath the top of the monopod, the shaft has a closed cell foam grip, which is very welcome in cold conditions to spare your hands from the icy metal chill. If you ever need to use the monopod by itself in a conventional way, Benro have also included a conventional rubber foot if you prefer to remove the fold out feet. Of course, the video head can be removed and replaced with any standard tripod head. The top features a reversible ¼” and 3/8” thread screw, so you can either fit another head or mount a camera directly to the monopod. A set of allen keys and a spanner is supplied to aid with any adjustments needed.
I’ve used this video monopod with great success at sporting events, where I wanted to change viewpoints often, where crowds and limited space would make the use of a tripod impossible and even for product videos where the pan-tilt-swivel action was used to add camera movement to shots that would otherwise be static and boring. It is also a light weight solution, that is much easier to travel with when flying than a conventional tripod.
The overall build quality is really good and all components have a solid, quality feel to them. With the versatility of this solution and decent video head included in the bundle, this product offers great value for money and has been a remarkable addition to my equipment arsenal.
The kit contains the folllowing:
* Benro 4-section A48TD aluminium monopod with swivel and rubber foot
* Benro S4 pan and tilt video head
* Shoulder carry bag, padded with zip and shoulder strap
* Instruction manual, allen keys and spanner
Max height: 1836 mm
Collapsed length: 676 mm
Maximum load: 4 kg
Weight (video head inluded): 1.92 kg