Stabilization with a Monopod

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Today’s Question: In a recent “Ask Tim Grey” eNewsletter you recommended turning off the stabilization feature on a lens when using a tripod. Would that also be your recommendation when using a monopod? I often seem to have focus problems when using a Canon 100-400 zoom lens on a monopod, and I wonder if the stabilization feature might be part of the issue.

Tim’s Quick Answer: When using a monopod under typical circumstances I recommend keeping the stabilization feature of your lens (or camera body) turned on.

More Detail: While a monopod certainly provides a degree of stability for capturing photos, that stability is not as stable as what is provided with a tripod. In other words, even when using a monopod, there will generally be at least a slight amount of movement of the camera.

Therefore, I recommend leaving image stabilization features of your lens or camera body turned on when using a monopod. The only exception would be when a monopod is further stabilized. For example, some monopods include expandable levers on the single foot that provide additional stability, effectively converting the monopod into a tripod at least in terms of the stability provided. Similarly, if you were to attach the monopod to a fence or other structure, the monopod would provide the same benefits as a tripod.

But under normal circumstances in the context of using a monopod, I do recommend having stabilization features enabled when using a monopod in your photography.