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12-23-2008, 10:56 AM   #1
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Hiking Pole Camera support?

I've noticed that there are a lot of hiking/backpacking type people here, and thus it occurred to me last night that maybe someone knows from this:

You see, I decided to try out the walking-stick-with-tripod-screw concept out last year, and I tried a sort of 'guide pole,' I think they're called, ...the rationale there was not for camera support to be the primary function, (rather to help me negotiate snowbanks and the like, when some rheumatoid issues make me kind of stiff and unsteady) ....and it might as well be some kind of camera support, too, especially cause where else are you going to put a stick when you need your hands to shoot. )

Anyway, I got something cheap to try out the concept, (It's kind of like a collapsible ski pole with a tripod screw on it) and it came with a pretty cool screw-on crook meant to steady a shotgun or spotting scope at about eye level. This works out *great* for my purposes, (in that it stays out of my way and helps compensate for when I'm having some muscle weakness) except the pole itself is rather too bendy to really brace good against and actually get some advantage with slow speeds and the like.

Since we hope to return to that snowy place, especially, (though they're handy following my botanist partner around down here, too) I'd like to improve on this skinny aluminum pole. Probably short of getting a particularly-light monopod (pricey and maybe not as abuseable,) but something less springy.

I imagine there are better-quality poles like this out there. Anyone have a recommendation?

12-23-2008, 11:20 AM   #2
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You could try the Leki Sierra:
Leki Sierra AS reviews and information - Trailspace.com
Leki make pretty good quality poles. Just be sure to tighten the length adjust well otherwise they tend to collapse after hiking for a while.
Paul
12-23-2008, 11:28 AM   #3
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Looks similar to what I have, if nicer. (Hopefully less bendy?) It leads to another question, what's with this 'antishock' feature and is it finicky, breakable, and counterproductive to steadiness?

(I see a number of 'antishock' things out there, and it seems superfluous/counterproductive to me, cause I don't (read can't) likely walk far enough it'd matter. It seems the last thing I'd want to do is get a spring involved. )

Last edited by Ratmagiclady; 12-23-2008 at 11:36 AM.
12-23-2008, 11:35 AM   #4
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Excellent question to pose and a connundrum for me. I like walking poles or sticks, whatever they are called, but i also want the capabilty of some sort of tripod. I wish i didn't have to carry both.

I have the Manfrotto monopod (too heavy for hiking in my opinion) and a Leki photo walking stick (sounds like this might seem springy to you) The Leki i like because it doubles nicely for a walking stick, but i'm leery of putting too much lens on it, altho it seems well built. Does anyone know what weight these are rated for? I'd like to use a 4 lb lens/camera combo on it.

There are some knockoff copies of walking poles that i picked up for $8 each several months back. I've thought about sacrificing one to put a strong epoxy plug and steel 1/4" stud in the end. A stainless steel stud can take a lot of weight, but its the connection to the pole or whatever thats always the question.

12-23-2008, 11:39 AM   #5
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You find walking/hiking poles with camera screws from all major manufacturers, like Leki or Komperdell etc. But they all do flex. They are made to flex, because they are not replacement walking sticks, but meant as a support to keep balance, a direct derivate of skiing poles - not more. Also the joints will not withstand the weight put on them, like on a tradtional walking stick. If you screw the joints that tight, you will have a funny time, trying to pack them down again...

You need something stiffer, without the joints, aka a fixed length pole, like used for Nordic Walking, preferably made from carbon fibre, as this stuff is very rigid. But I don't know any of those with an integrated camera screw. But I am not a specialist in Nordic Walking, so there might be something.

If you search the web, you will probably find the US company (the name escapes me), that produces fine monopods, that can be used as walking sticks too. These should be much more rigid, too.

Ben
12-23-2008, 11:49 AM   #6
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Ben,
Actually at Ritz/Kit Camera chain store the other day, i saw a carbon fiber monopod they were selling for $99 USD. Looked Lightweight and sturdy. Then i saw a similar product in B and H or Adorama, someplace like that. Don't think i'll buy it but a design step in the right direction.

Actually the Leki pole has a lockout feature in it where you can lock out the spring shock. We have an older folks hiking club in a nearby city, and they all use walking poles. The time i used them for a decent hike, i felt they were a big help in keeping my legs fresh. They allow your arms to take over much of the balancing work your legs put into walking, and let your legs just concentrate on propelling you forward. They do work well and can avoid slips down slippery terrain.
12-23-2008, 11:59 AM   #7
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I appreciate the suggestions, and do keep em coming, anyone that knows anything.

QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote

You need something stiffer, without the joints, aka a fixed length pole, like used for Nordic Walking, preferably made from carbon fibre, as this stuff is very rigid. But I don't know any of those with an integrated camera screw. But I am not a specialist in Nordic Walking, so there might be something.

Ben
Actually, this idea is *not* out of the question, at least if we go back to where the snow is. Collapseyness is a convenience, but not necessary: I discovered to my dismay that for some reason people in that snowy place don't just dump good ski poles at the Sally Ann when they get tired of them. But my dear one is a fairly serious Nordic skier, and those carbon fiber poles would do nicely with a little kludging, and one more pole in the car or by the door won't bother anything. (I have a couple of spare tripod screws from an old Slik I lost along the way that could be socketed in there with a plumbing part or two)

My presumption here is that steadiness is a matter of degree, though. Neither me nor my usual shooting gear are very heavy. Stiff enough to snug up against would do. As I said, the primary function is to get me there and compensate for when my arms start feeling heavy, I'd just like to get more benefit out of it.

12-23-2008, 12:13 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
Ben,
Actually at Ritz/Kit Camera chain store the other day, i saw a carbon fiber monopod they were selling for $99 USD. Looked Lightweight and sturdy. Then i saw a similar product in B and H or Adorama, someplace like that. Don't think i'll buy it but a design step in the right direction.

Actually the Leki pole has a lockout feature in it where you can lock out the spring shock. We have an older folks hiking club in a nearby city, and they all use walking poles. The time i used them for a decent hike, i felt they were a big help in keeping my legs fresh. They allow your arms to take over much of the balancing work your legs put into walking, and let your legs just concentrate on propelling you forward. They do work well and can avoid slips down slippery terrain.
Hrm. Well, I'm not above using a monopod made for the purpose. It does seem that for a couple of hundred you can have something along the lines I am trying to improvise, though some have built-in ballheads I'd rather avoid for this purpose. (the little y-shaped gun mount is great for taking no set-up time: I'm not that old, but I feel like it sometimes. *sigh* I don't like to be dissuaded about footing when my feet and knees are stiff, or even taking a camera out in the first place. And that's just in town. (it also gets dim early a lot of the year there, and that's part of why more actual camera support would help me. )

I take it that having that spring shock is in fact something you don't want to be trying to shoot with, then?
12-23-2008, 12:17 PM   #9
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Ratmagiclady,

I use a TrekPod and so far it"s been working great. Its even got three additional stabilizing legs. On top of the TrekPod, you'll find a ballhead that is more than capable of holding steady a dSLR. The MagMount make it really easy to pop the camera on and off the TrekPod.

Amazon.com: Trek-Tech TrekPod II Monopod/Tripod/Hiking Staff Multi-Use Tool for Image Stabilization for Digital Camera, Video Recorder or Other Optical Devices: Camera & Photo

Hope this helps,

BJ.
12-23-2008, 01:41 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
i'm leery of putting too much lens on it, altho it seems well built. Does anyone know what weight these are rated for? I'd like to use a 4 lb lens/camera combo on it.
4lb is nothing compared to the stress put on a hiking stick if you're walking up and down mountains! I've got a Novoflex branded Leki photo stick (no antishock) that's fine with a K10+grip+Sigma 100-300 f4. Sure, it's not as rigid or tall as my Manfrotto 680 monopod, but as I've used a Leki . I've used standard Leki hiking sticks for years (20+) and had no problems.
12-23-2008, 01:50 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
Actually the Leki pole has a lockout feature in it where you can lock out the spring shock. We have an older folks hiking club in a nearby city, and they all use walking poles. The time i used them for a decent hike, i felt they were a big help in keeping my legs fresh. They allow your arms to take over much of the balancing work your legs put into walking, and let your legs just concentrate on propelling you forward. They do work well and can avoid slips down slippery terrain.
Phil, thanks for the reminder on the Leki. I have been using walking poles for serious trekking for many years now, even when I was much younger. So I surely wouldn't question their usefulness. Only the combination of walkingpole/monopod never quite worked out for me, as I found the camera mounting part usually underdesigned and the poles simply to flexible - espcially the older lightweight modells. I hope the newer lightweight modells, made of CF are stiffer.

Ben
12-23-2008, 02:41 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote
I've noticed that there are a lot of hiking/backpacking type people here, and thus it occurred to me last night that maybe someone knows from this
I use the Tracks brand poles. One Sherlock Travel Staff each car and a regular Sherlock by the door by the front door. I've had the Sherlock for about 9 or 10 years and it still works fine. I did have to replace the wood knob on one last year and I have lost and replaced a couple of rubber feet over the years. :-)

Tracks Walking, Hiking, Travel, and Trekking Staffs - Home

I usually leave an old Bogen 3423 Flex Head mounted between the staff and knob on the one at home.
12-23-2008, 03:50 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by WJW Quote
I use the Tracks brand poles. One Sherlock Travel Staff each car and a regular Sherlock by the door by the front door. I've had the Sherlock for about 9 or 10 years and it still works fine. I did have to replace the wood knob on one last year and I have lost and replaced a couple of rubber feet over the years. :-)

Tracks Walking, Hiking, Travel, and Trekking Staffs - Home

I usually leave an old Bogen 3423 Flex Head mounted between the staff and knob on the one at home.
That looks like we're getting warmer, WJW... Non-bendy-enough, I take it, for camera support? And just two sections? I'm actually not talking about anything where the weight of the rig is the big deal: I'm not looking to climb the Matterhorn with a 300 2.8 or anything, it's just that if I need a stick to get around town, it may as well provide useful camera support.

Something where I can curl my arm around it, lean into it a bit, nest my ol' 85 1.8 in this shooting Y thingie, and have a better shooting platform than handheld, is my aim, here. What I have is so springy that all it can do is help hold my arms up.

I've actually got one of those flex-heads, though, the mini one. I put it on my little Lumix to do verticals and other 'tricks.'
12-23-2008, 05:46 PM   #14
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Last edited by poco; 12-25-2008 at 01:39 PM.
12-23-2008, 07:57 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote
That looks like we're getting warmer, WJW... Non-bendy-enough, I take it, for camera support? And just two sections? I'm actually not talking about anything where the weight of the rig is the big deal: I'm not looking to climb the Matterhorn with a 300 2.8 or anything, it's just that if I need a stick to get around town, it may as well provide useful camera support.

Something where I can curl my arm around it, lean into it a bit, nest my ol' 85 1.8 in this shooting Y thingie, and have a better shooting platform than handheld, is my aim, here. What I have is so springy that all it can do is help hold my arms up.

I've actually got one of those flex-heads, though, the mini one. I put it on my little Lumix to do verticals and other 'tricks.'
Like most of these sticks, there is a slight flex in the tip but I have to put my weight on it to get the flex. I have used this with an RB67, prism and 180mm lens (about 8 pounds) with good results. I frequently use it with an *ist DS2 and Sigma 24-60/2.4 with very good results. Plus it is a very nice walking staff.

On the Sherlock, there are only two sections and only one section adjusts and it has click-locks that are easy to use and very positive. The Travel Staff has three sections, but two of them screw together and the third has the click-lock.

I think you must have the 234 Tilt head. The 3423 Flex Head is a solid rubber head shaped vaguely like a thread spool with concave sides rather than straight sides.


This head gives me just enough flex that I can get the stick out in front of me at a 20-30 angle and lean into the camera slightly. Makes things very stable.
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