We just finished our last Rocky Mnt NP weekend workshop today. And despite fires burning on both sides of the park, the elk didn’t seem bothered, and we even had one clear night for star photography. The elk in Moraine Park in RMNP are often close, so this trip I decided to bring my 300mm F2.8. This lens is still one of the sharpest Nikon has ever made. And now the VR II version is ten years old you can get some great deals on a used version. Why a 300mm 2.8 versus the 300mm F4 PF? Honestly, both these lenses are super sharp and fantastic. But F2.8 is…..F2.8. Take a look at this image at top. I shot this at ISO 6400 at F2.8 is very low light. One stop is hugely important. ISO 6400 is normally as high as I go, but shooting at F2.8 allowed me a fast enough shutter speed. And the other thing to notice is look how the elk just pops off the silky out of focus background. F2.8 is…..F2.8.
But the D6/300mm F2.8 gets a little heavy walking around and hand holding this set up. And that is where a monopod comes in handy. Think of a monopod as a way to support your lens, but not needing to be on a heavier tripod all day. It does offer more stability, not as good as a tripod, but it is really nice not having to hand hold the 300mm F2.8 for hours. I use a RRS Series 3 monopod, lightweight and sturdy. And recently I found a new head that is only produced by Whimberly, the MH-100, which really makes monopod use stable and balanced.
The MH-100 mounts the lens on the side of the monopod rather than on top. Once your lens is attached, you can adjust the position so the lens balances similar to being on a gimbal. This gimbal movement is terrific for aiming the lens up or down without having to adjust the angle of the monopod. Even better, when you carry your camera/lens on the monopod, it fits nicely over your shoulder and is pretty comfortable.
I don’t use a monopod often. But they can be handy for situations where tripods aren’t allowed, or somewhere you are moving constantly while using a big telephoto.