Terra Nova are better known for their tents, but also have a good line in walking poles. A new addition to this range is the Terra Nova Unipod, a walking pole that doubles as a monopod.
As a walking pole, the Unipod is sturdy and well made, weighing in at a reasonable 310g. That’s significantly lighter than any tripod, and a reaconable weight for a walking pole. The Unipod is easily and quickly extended to it’s full length with clip locks, which is easier than those with a twist mechanism.
The tripod mount (in standard 1/4 inch* fitting for DSLR, you may need an adapter for other cameras) is well hidden in the handle, and the pole is easily and quickly converted into the monopod as needed. When in walking pole mode, we didn’t feel that the handle would come undone and you’d be hard pressed to realise that this was anything other than a walking pole.
An additional benefit from the Unipod is that we found ourselves with a walking pole on walks that we otherwise wouldn’t have bothered. This came in useful on a couple of trips where we came across some unexpectedly boggy areas and kept our feet drier than otherwise.
Question is, how useful is a monopod? It’s not a tripod replacement and not much use for long exposures, but what benefit does it provide over and above a hand held shot? One obvious application for us is for evening and sunset shots, where you may need a slightly longer shutter speed to capture the shot. The timing may only be a fraction of a second, but that’s all the difference between a keeper and a fuzzy shot that’s straight to the recycle bin. Opinions vary, but you’ll gain an f stop or two, at least, depending on how well you use it!
If you’ve got a heavy wide angle lens, as well as a sturdy DSLR to boot, then a monopod will take this weight. This will allow you to take a much steadier shot. Yes, ‘much’ isn’t exactly scientific, but a decent landscape setup will weigh well over a kilo, and that can get tiring quickly enough.
And the most obvious advantage over a tripod? It’s in your hand, ready to go.
Before we reviewed the Terra Nova Unipod, a monopod wasn’t something we’d considered taking on a trip. Why bother when we’ve got a state of the art tripod (that weighs more than the tent, but that’s another story) that does everything we’ll ever need? We’re not so sure now! Having that extra bit of stability can only result in an equal or better shot than hand held, and if it pushes that image up one notch then that’s something worth considering. The shots here of Llyn Llydaw were taken using the Unipod, Canon 6D and a Samyang 14mm lens and we thought they came out exceptionally sharp (though obviously resized here!).
Dare we even suggest that you could even use a monopod as a selfie stick?!
If you’re a photographer looking for a new set of poles, then it may be worth paying a few pounds extra for the Unipod which is £30 as opposed to the £22 TN Trail Lite Poles – as one half of your pair. That’s an easy decision if you’re a confirmed monopod user, and a worthy gamble if you’re not and willing to give it a go.
*yep, ye olde worlde measurements on Mud and Routes. There’s a first time, and last time, for everything.