For the longest time I simply did not care for monopods. Without the ability to be able to quickly switch from portrait to landscape (none of my lenses have mounting rings which allow for monopod rotation), I did not find much utility or practicality in bringing a monopod with my on my vacations to Walt Disney World. Then, I was introduced to the BOGgear RLD-1 Monopod Shooting Stick. It was love at first use with this incredibly simple and useful piece of equipment.
The BOGgear Shooting Stick is simply a monopod with a V-shaped head. The camera does not mount to the stick like a typical tripod or monopod; you rest the camera’s lens barrel inside of the V-head and remove it when you are done taking the picture. The nice thing is you are not married to having to choose whether you want to shoot vertically or horizontally. You can rotate or tilt the camera at will to suit your photo’s compositional needs. Further, by just setting the camera in the V-head to take a photo, you do not need to decide if you want to shoot with a monopod for long periods of time or not. You can instantly mount or dismount the camera to get the shot you want and then move on.
The BOGgear Shooting Stick is very lightweight and extends quite tall. The Shooting Stick is surprisingly rigid and stiff while completely belies its light weight. Unlike cheaper, sporting goods bought sticks commonly used for shooting rifles, the BOGgear Shooting Stick does not bend once you put a little weight or tension on it. I am approx. 6’2″ tall and the stick extends tall enough for me to shoot at eye level without having to bend over uncomfortably while taking the photo.
The well constructed BOGgear Shooting Stick is well made and feels solid, once again despite its light weight. The red padded hand grip is comfortable and will prevent slippage in hot or cold temperatures. The bottom foot has a rubber grip which removes to reveal a carbide tip for usage on hard surfaces. The leg extensions extend via a twist log system, with the bottom leg having hash marks on it so you can repeatedly extend the monopod to the same length time after time.
I have mentioned light weight several times; the BOGgear Shooting Stick tips the scales at an unbelievable 12 ounces. It comes with its own custom carrying case, complete with external accessory pocket. While walking around on vacation with this monopod, it never felt like a hindrance whereas a tripod, even a lightweight travel tripod, would have been cumbersome and annoying. In fact, I was able to place the monopod along the length of my kids’ stroller and it fit right into place as if it belonged there all along.
Because it is so sturdy and portable, I was able to take the BOGgear Shooting Stick places that I would never have taken my tripod before. The queue line inside of the Haunted Mansion and the dark caves on Tom Sawyer Island were no match for the monopod. I was able to get photos in the near darkness with little effort thanks to the stability offered by the shooting stick. Of course, a monopod is no match for a tripod, but by raising the ISO and opening the aperture, I was able to get fast enough shutter speeds in order to ensure sharp photos that were free from camera shake. I found that I was able to shoot at 1/10 to 1/15 of a second shutter speeds with consistently acceptable results. This would be nearly impossible while shooting handheld.
If I had to find any potential flaws in the design of the BOGgear Shooting Stick, it would be the twist lock system of extending the legs. This is more of a personal choice than anything as I am not crazy about twist locking legs. The BOGgear Shooting Stick’s legs lock tightly there was no “leg creep” that I noticed while using the item.
The final thing I would like to point out is the price. B&H Photo, official supplier of The Magic in Pixels, offers the BOGgear Shooting Stick for $34.95, a virtual steal given the quality and functionality offered by the product. If it sounds like I recommend the monopod, it’s because I do. The stick offers so much for such a low price that it would be a no-brainer if I had to buy one again. Check it out!
Taken with Canon 5dMk2 with Canon EF 24-105 f/4 L using the BOGgear Shooting Stick in a dark cave on Tom Sawyer Island at 1/8 second shutter speed. Photos of Tim Devine using the BOGgear Shooting Stick were taken by Susan Smith.