With more and more photographers wanting to go further while traveling lighter while out and about capturing photographs of wildlife, we have noticed more and more people reaching out about downsizing from their tripod to a smaller, lighter monopod. Due to this, we have decided to base today’s article on the best monopod for wildlife photography to try and help as many of our readers in this situation as possible.
Monopods offer the advantage of being smaller, lighter, and easy to travel with than a tripod while still being able to provide you with some excellent image stabilization for your wildlife photography. In addition to this, professional-level monopods tend to be much cheaper than their professional level tripod counterparts too. This ensures that you are able to add a monopod to your collection of camera accessories without having to shell out or risk breaking the bank.
Now, we are actually going to be featuring two different monopods that come in at slightly different price points in the market rather than just one. We have the Manfrotto Element that is our more budget-friendly monopod for any of our readers who are looking to add a monopod to their collection but on a budget. Then we have our primary recommendation, the Sirui P-326 that retails at around the $100 price point depending on the retailer, the P-326 really is an excellent bit of kit that is well worth adding to your collection of camera accessories.
We have our comparison table below as well as a short break down of the advantages and disadvantages of each monopod to try and help offer some additional information on both products. After the comparison section, we will be taking a more detailed look at the Sirui P-326 as it is our primary recommendation and we want to go over why we feel it is such an excellent option.
Last update on 2020-01-28 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
As you can see from our comparison table above, both of our featured monopods have some very similar features but the Manfrotto Element is made from an aluminum alloy whereas the Sirui P-326 is made from carbon fiber. Not only does the carbon fiber build of the P-326 allow it to support more weight while being lighter but it also ensures the product has a much longer shelf life due to it not suffering from elemental corrosion.
Even in this day and age, we see a large number of people who purchase aluminum alloy tripods and monopods thinking that they will never corrode as they don’t rust. Although it is true that they will not rust, they most certainly do corrode from the elements but their oxidization is in the form of white dust that is extremely fine. As the corrosion becomes worse the dust granules increase in size until they are similar to sugar granules and this is an indicator that the structural integrity of the product is compromised.
Now, this whole process can take as long as five years to take effect and degrade the build of your monopod until it needs replacing and even then, this is with regular use with the monopod being exposed to the elements. This means that if you are only expecting to use your monopod for five years or less then the aluminum option can be the better choice.
On the flip side of this though, if you are a professional wildlife photographer and know you will be using your monopod for longer than five years or that it will be out in the elements on a regular basis, the Sirui P-326 is a no brainer. Its carbon fiber build means that it will not corrode from the elements and can potentially last you decades without needing to be replaced.
On top of this, the Sirui P-326 has one of the best reputations going at the time of writing as well as an absolutely massive market share. This is due to the monopod offering you excellent performance, a great build quality, and a low price tag for what you are actually getting. Now, for the rest of the article, we are going to be going over the P-326 in more detail and looking at why we feel it is such a good option.
Performance And Functionality
This ensures that you should easily be able to mount any camera accessory that you need to get the best possible image quality while out and about on your sessions. Super heavy, long telephoto lenses can be popular in some wildlife photography sub-niches and the Sirui P-326 should easily be able to support your camera with this level of heavy glass on it too.
The Sirui P-326 is a six-section monopod that can provide you with excellent image stabilization even if you only opt to extend five or four sections of the monopod. Depending on the niche that you are working in, you may have to sit down and extending the full six sections may not be needed. Either way, the twist locks on the monopods sections will secure it in place and ensure that a section does not give way once your gear is mounted.
The monopod has a maximum usable height of just over 61 inches that should be enough for the majority of our readers. For its price point in the market, we would expect around sixty inches of maximum height so the P-326 is just above average. When closed the monopod shrinks down to around a quarter of its maximum heigh coming in at 15.6 inches making it very easy to pack away without having to take up much space in your kit bag or pelican case.
The head of the Sirui P-326 also has a fully reversible quarter-inch and three-eighths inch screw mounting plate. This ensures that no matter what you are up to or what geat you have to mount to your monopod, you can quickly and easily switch the mounting plate over to get the required mounting thread and attach your gear to the monopod.
Coming in at around one hundred dollars depending on the retailer that you purchase it from, it really is easy to see why the Sirui P-326 is such a popular monopod, even in niches outside of wildlife photography. It has managed to win over a large number of photographers and videographers since its release with many of them opting to post their own, independent reviews of the monopod. Those reviews are well worth skimming over as they share some great third-party opinions on the monopod.
User Interface And Control System
We touched on the leg locking system on the P-326 earlier and although flip locks have historically had the better locking system for monopods and tripods, there have been a few tweaks to the twist-lock system over the last five years or so that have drastically improved them. This is great news as the Sirui P-326 uses twist locks and they lock in place perfectly.
One of the main issues with the twist lock system from back in the day is that it could be a pain to find your screwing thread when twisting them meaning your leg section would not lock into place securely. Thankfully though, the majority of modern twist locks use a seating unit to basically guide the threads together to ensure they seat correctly and form a solid seal.
In addition to this, the twist-lock system also keeps its traditional advantages of being quicker and easier to activate when needed. You can lock or unlock all of the locks at once when the monopod is compressed by putting one hand over all of the locks and turning. Although this is just a small advantage, it can potentially save you time, especially in cold conditions where finger sensitivity can drop when needing to use flip locks.
We would also like to mention that the included wrist strap and handgrip on the monopod are easy to use and the handgrip is particularly comfortable to hold and is well insulated too. This gives you a solid are of the tripod that you can hold if you are working in colder conditions without having to directly touch the cold carbon fiber.
Build Quality And Design
This allows the P-326 to come in at only 0.88 pounds while also being able to support its massive maximum load capacity of twenty two points of camera payload! If you have to hike to remote locations for your wildlife photography then this lighter weight and higher load capacity can be worth the price tag alone.
We have already touched on the differences in corrosion between aluminum and carbon fiber earlier in the article so we won’t be going into it any further but our point is that carbon fiber offers all of the advantages. One thing that we do want to touch on is that the twist locks on the P-326 are enhanced with silicon elements to help increase their durability during use as well as help protect them against the elements to ensure they do not suffer from wear and tear while in use.
That brings our article on what we feel is the best monopod for wildlife photography on the market right now to an end. As we pointed out back at the start of the article, the Manfrotto Element can be a solid cheap monopod if that is what you need and it also has a decent reputation amongst the community.
That said though, if you want a product that can last as well as put up with any bumps and knocks during use then we would highly recommend that our readers looking to add a monopod to their collection of camera accessories seriously consider the Sirui P-326. As we have pointed out throughout the article, it has a number of advantages over the competition and really does offer some great image stabilization and functionality.
If you are yet to make your mind up then many photographers and videographers have posted their own dedicated review of the Sirui P-326 online that you can read. Those reviews are well worth skimming over if you are still on the fence as they offer you some great insight into the monopod and its performance.