Like we did for our Arca-Swiss B1 tripod head this article shows how to optimize the weight (and cost) of a monopod tilt head. The latest offset tilt heads allow monopod users to mount heavy cameras on relatively lightweight monopods. As monopods are commonly used for hiking and travel, we set out to lower the weight of the tilt head, while still providing stability.
Really Right Stuff Monopod Tilt Heads
Really Right Stuff is the pioneer in creating sturdy tilt heads for monopods. Unlike the old small ball or tilt heads, RRS used an offset design where the clamping mechanism is offset from the axis of rotation which provides better leverage (see Figure 1).
RRS Tilt Heads come in different flavors, with a fixed or rotating Arca-Swiss compatible clamp and screw or lever type clamps. The RRS tilt head with screw clamp that rotates (the MH-02 Pro Monopod Head) weighs in at 441 grams. We set out to lighten our load using the fixed clamp model. The author’s screw clamp model with a fixed clamp (non-rotating), weighs in at 380 grams.
RRS Tilt Head with No Clamp
You can buy the same tilt head with no clamp at lower cost and weight (see Figure 2). Weighing in at a mere 250 grams, the “naked” MH-01 is a model of efficiency, just needing a clamp to complete the picture.
The Desmond Skeleton Clamp
Of course, we have just the clamp for this purpose. The Desmond skeleton clamp weighs a mere 61 grams (66 grams with level), using computer modeling and CNC machining to pare out unneeded metal (see Figure 3). Made entire of aluminum, the clamp is lightweight yet strong, and takes standard Arca Swiss clamps.
The Optimized Monopod Tilt Head
Attaching the lightweight clamp to the naked tilt head gives the Frankenstein monopod head seen in Figure 4.
The optimized head weighs 327.5 grams, some 13.8% lighter than the original and 25.7% lighter than the rotating clamp model (see Figure 5).
Figure 5 shows a comparison of the two tilt heads, on the right is the rotating clamp model (MH-02 Pro Head) and on the left is the newly optimized fixed clamp model (MH-01 Pro with Desmond Clamp).
Atop a Sirui P-326 Carbon Fiber Monopod
With the modified RRS tilt head placed on top of a Sirui P-326 monopod the total rig weighs only 1.6 lbs and easily supports a medium format camera (see Figure 6).
By switching to the Really Right Stuff tilt head with a lighter fixed clamp we were able to reduce its weight by 25%. Lighter weight monopods are easier to carry when hiking. Solid tilt heads provide sharper and smaller pictures and videos.
- Desmond Photographic Distributors
- Makers of the skeleton clamp used in this article.
- Multimedia: Use Image Stabilization
- Image stabilization creates sharper pictures by damping vibration to avoid motion blur. Gyroscopic stabilizers steady cameras for sharper photographs and videos.
- Optimizing the Arca Swiss B1 Ball Head
- Extend the life of your ball head and save weight by rebuilding with lightweight components. By rebuilding our Arca Swiss B1 we saved 17.5% off its weight.
- Really Right Stuff
- Makers of fine photographic gear for advanced amateurs and professional photographers. RRS pioneered low profile ball heads and sturdy monopod tilt heads.
- Use a stable tripod
- A stable tripod creates sharper pictures and videos by damping out vibration. Sharper shots mean smaller multimedia destined for the Web.
- Update: Pro Ball Head Review
- A solid ball head dampens sharpness-robbing vibration for sharper and smaller images and videos for the Web. Updated with the newest models, we compare some pro-level ball heads and offer some tips for sharper photographs.