Friday, November 9, 2012

Fotopro NGC-65 Carbon Fiber Monopod

The Fotopro NGC-65 Carbon Fiber Monopod
After purchasing a super telephoto lens months ago, I needed something to support it during hikes. I purchased a Canon 400mm f/5.6 which isn't that big nor heavy, but I still needed something to support it while I take a shot. Considering that my 400mm doesn't have stabilization, I need to keep my camera steady while I press the shutter. Going above 200mm, you are going to need some steady hands for you to hold your camera to prevent camera shake. In that range, the slightest movement of your hands can affect your shot.
I got mine in blue, I'm not sure if it has other colors.
Sometimes a tripod isn't the best solution. Oftentimes, you hike around an area and realize that a tripod is more troublesome than to just hand hold your camera. Also a tripod takes time to setup. The best alternative to a tripod when hiking or walking is a monopod.

I looked on the web to see what I can find for monopods. I really didn't need to spend a fortune for a monopod, though I didn't want to get a really cheap one either. I've learned my lesson from buying ultra cheap tripods and I'm not gonna make the same mistake again. So I went online and found a monopod that caught my attention...the Fotopro NGC-65 Carbon Fiber Monopod.

I've never had any Fotopro equipment. Although from the looks of their tripod, they kinda resemble the colorful Benro/Mefoto tripods, as well as the Sirui ones that are both manufactured in China. I've tried a HorusBennu ballhead, and for the price it's really not bad...I was hoping the same for this Fotopro monopod.

Fotopro has been around for sometime manufacturing support equipment for cameras. As I have mentioned, their products resemble the Benros a lot. I'm kinda wondering if they are made in the same factory.  I decided to try it out. Managed to get one for around $45.00.

I got it within 5 days. The monopod came neatly boxed. The item came with a bag...comes in handy when you want to bring it around and you don't have a tripod holder in your camera bag. Being made out of carbon fiber, the monopod is really light. By adding a ballhead, the tripod will weigh a little bit heavier but not that much.

I attached my Giottos MH-1302 Pro Series II Ballhead into the monopod and it was still pretty light I then attached my 50D with the Canon 400mm f/5.6 on the ballhead mount. The monopod seemed to hold pretty well.

With my Giottos MH-1302 pro ballhead.
There's a lot of people who are not fans of the twist lock system for tripod/monopod legs. I thought it was a pain too at first but after a couple of hours of playing with it the twist lock system doesn't bother me at all. Maybe it's because it's just one set for a monopod compared to three on a tripod, but I don't think I will have a problem with the same system on a tripod either. The locks have grooves in them to accomodate the thumb and the index finger to twist it more easily...a very nice feature to have.

The twist lock system. Some hate it, some love it.
At the top of the the first twist lock, you'll find an arrow telling you which goes to tighten the lock and which one goes to loosen it. At the second section of the monopod there are measurements which I don't really use but maybe useful for some people. The monopod has a faux leather strap where you can insert your wrist as a safety to keep you from losing your monopod just in case your hand accidentally let's go, it is attached to a metal ring which is attached to the monopod itself. I've tried a more expensive monopod which used a plastic holder for the strap and it broke a couple of hours after using the the metal is so much better. The monopod has a piece of foam covering the first segment for comfort. This proved to be very helpful when carrying the monopod around long distances as it rested on your shoulders, providing you with a soft padding.

The second segment has measurements, maybe useful for some photographers.
Fully extended, I didn't find the monopod wobbly at all with the 400mm attached. I would love to use it with a bigger lens if I have one, but so far it holds its own. I also feel comfortable walking with it on long distances at nature centers. The twist locks also provide quick adjustments so you don't miss a shot.

With my Canon 50D attached and a 400mm f/5.6 lens.
The monopod features a reversible 1/4 and 3/8 head screw. This is useful if you have multiple heads that use different screw mounts. The smaller screw is used for lighter capacity heads and the bigger one for the more durable heads. I have three ballheads and all of them use the 3/8 screw.

The monopod extends up to around 57.5 inches when fully extended, and it is almost 16 inches when folded. The specs on their website says it can support up to 11 pounds. So far, with my heaviest setup, a 50D with a battery grip and a 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens, the monopod still doesn't feel wobbly.

For the price, this monopod can't be beat. The carbon fiber construction is a very big plus compared to the aluminum ones when it comes to weight. I have taken mine to numerous outings and it never has failed me. I highly recommend it!

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