If you’re an indie filmmaker or a videographer just looking for an affordable and tough monopod to mount your DSLR or camcorder on, then the 3Pod Orbit Monopod and Q2 Fluid Video Head combo is a pretty good place to start.
As a quick overview of the 3Pod Orbit Monopod with a fluid base head. Users have a choice of a lower cost aluminum or carbon fiber build, with four fully adjustable sections, and flip lock leg sections. The monopod can extend maximum height of 65.5 inches, or be compact at its minimum storage height of 23.5 inches. Though it only weighs 2 pounds, it can hold cameras up to 18 pounds in weight and has both a reversible 3/8″ and 1/4-20″ mounting screw.
The Monopod also comes with a tripod foot with locks that allow for balanced and smooth camera movement while in position. This gives users the option of locking down the foot and allowing it to stand still, or unlocking it so that you can move the camera in any direction and still maintain a stable point of contact. The tripod foot is a must have and a great feature to include.
I’m shocked that 3Pod tosses it in at this price point. I also like that the Orbit comes with a clip on the monopod leg that houses an allen wrench tool to do more complex adjustments are repairs.
Other features include:
- Fluid base with tripod foot, flip lock, and four leg sections
- Aluminum for durability with a max load of 18 lbs.
- Perfect for photography or video with wrist strap and hand grip for added support
- Reversible 3/8-inch and 1/4-inch -20 mounting screw
- Allen wrench clipped to the monopod
- Flip Lock
- 5-year warranty
Current price on Adorama is $59.95, on sale from $75.
Designed with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras in mind,the Q2 weight in at only just over a pound, and can hold cameras up to 11 pounds. That’s not exactly the max weight that the monopod can, but still, at eleven times the weight, that’s pretty impressive. Shooters who are wanting to shoot with a heavier camera may be better served to spend a little more and get the 3Pod Q3 Fluid head as it can carry up to 15 pounds.
Meanwhile, the Q2 has all the standard pan and tilt fluid friction controls and knobs to adjust the tension and balance as you pan all around the 360° axis and tilt your camera. The quick release place can be adjusted backwards and forwards, and there’s an additional safety lock to make sure that the camera doesn’t slip and fall of the video head. There is also a bubble level to make sure the camera is horizontally and vertically balanced over the tripod foot.
Other features include:
- Separate Pan and Tilt fluid friction controls
- Bubble level on base to confirm the legs are level
- Comfortable knobs
- Adjustable handle position
- Quick release plate can be adjusted forward or backward to balance larger rigs
- Quick release safety lock ensures the camera wont accidentally fall off the video head
- Fast 360 degree rotation
- Adjustable tension
Current price at Adorama is $49.95.
My impressions? There’s a lot of bang for the proverbial buck here. I know at first blush users are going to think … really? A monopod and fluid head for under $120? Yeah, I get that. You’re not going to want to put your Blackmagic URSA Mini on it. But you could. The build quality of the monopod makes it easily worth three to four times more than the full price 3Pod lists it for.
The three locking feet in the swivel base are rock steady when you lock them down, and they flip up with a simple touch of a button to disengage the flip locks. But for me the impressive parts are the three flip locks that keep the four section aluminum adjustable leg sections sturdy. You’d think, for a sub $100 monopod, that the maker would skimp on the quality of the locks opting for all plastic parts.
Not so here. The flips themselves are plastic, but they are very thick and sturdy and the rest of the lock is heavy grade aluminum. These locks aren’t going to wear down. They’re designed to carry the weight and I am convinced that they won’t become loose and cause the sections to slide at all. The foam handle is comfortable, and since the base rod has a properly large radius, it fits comfortably in the hand, rather than being so thin that you wish you had more padding to hold onto it.
There’s also a nicely made adjustable wrist strap that isn’t a cheap add-on. It’s been designed to be able to last and has high impact plastic attachments to join it to the monopod. It’s not going to break under the weight, leaving the user the confidence that their camera isn’t going anywhere. Bottom line is, I was very confident and comfortable using it, and I’m definitely going to keep this in my equipment bag when I go on location to grab that on-the-spot interview.
Along with it comes a well crafted, fabric shoulder case. This isn’t a cheap vinyl or fabric case that’s been tossed in as an afterthought either. The shoulder case is made out of quality, padded fabric, that is well stitched. There’s no slipshot stitching here that’ll end up unraveling within a few months.
The shoulder bag also has a pocket on the inside to house the shoulder strap when not in use. And the case also has room to accommodate the fluid head being attached, so users won’t have to remove it when not in use. It’s a tight fight, but not so much that you have to struggle to get it out. Once you see how it needs to slide in and out, it’s like you’ve been using it for years.
On to the fluid head: Chances are, you’re going to already have your own. And that’s fine. But for the money, this fluid head is a pretty good entry level offering, even if you’re going to put it on a separate tripod. It’s been engineered for stability with knobs that can keep the quick release from sliding, and also have teeth in the swivel points that will bit into the head once you’ve tightened down the tilt angle of the head via the handle.
My only beef here is that I had to swivel the handle upside down and then adjust the handle grip itself in order to put my camera on it. It may be that this is how it was meant to be used, but during assembly, it was juxtaposed wrong. That’s fine. With that tiny adjustment, my camera slid right on. But as I mentioned, if you’re going to want to use a camera heavier than a DSLR or mirrorless option, then you may want to look at the heavier grade Q3 at $99.99.
For an entry level ENG-style monopod and fluid video head, or even for a backup, I give the 3Pod Orbit Monopod and Q2 4.5/5 stars. And for under $150, seriously, go buy this before 3Pod realizes the mistake they made pricing it so low. Buy two. If you’re going to be at NAB, come find me. I’m definitely bringing it to shoot my B roll with.