Customer Reviews: Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 Fluid Video Monopod with Head
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on June 15, 2011
This thing does it's job very efficiently. If you are a photographer or videographer, or as in my case a photographer delving into video with my HDSLR. You gotta buy this.

We all either carry way too much equipment and hate taking it out. Or we leave vital equipment and lose out on having the optimal setup. This Monopod bridges that gap very effectively.

It provides the most solid stabilization you can get without carrying a huge set of sticks and head around. It doesn't look like it from the pics, but its VERY thick, and will extend over your head.

I shot a commercial for a local barbershop two days after receiving my monopod, and it turned out great. I had other supports, stands, tripods,etc. But never took them out. Every since then I carry this strapped to whatever bag I carry that day and I'm shooting much more footage, because it's so fast and convenient.

It allows me to shoot from places that I never even considered before and can be done very quickly. Without any significant space being needed either. It doesn't scare people like my huge tripod was doing, so I have been able to get a lot of great stock footage. I think this should be essential standard equipment for anybody doing weddings or special events. Ok Ok, so does it pan smoothly?.... YES! I can do most pan moves and dolly shots I need, and can do other stuff that I wouldn't be able to do with three legs. And as stated by the Manufacturer (visually confirmed by me) ... The Fluid head is a Manfrotto 701 that has been modified to screw atop this monopod. If you are researching this monopod, I'm pretty sure you know the praise that head receives.

This easily goes into my hall of fame recommendations category. What else do you want to hear? I'm done, just buy it.
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on April 12, 2013
- Great for shooting nightclub performances
- Small footprint
- Pans and tilts
- More compact than a tripod
- Self standing
- Adds stability for video

- The fluid head fits on other Manfrotto tripods. But it doesn't pan because that function is built into the base of the monopod.
- Little heavier than your typical monopod
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on July 18, 2011
I've used monopods for decades in still photography, but I never considered how a video monopod would be different until I took an online seminar with a famous cinematographer, and his staff pointed out this Manfrotto device. Mine arrived today, and I am very pleased, though the price was a little steep.

This thing is entirely clever. From online pictures, it looks like a gimmick, like somebody at Manfrotto quickly slapped together a couple of existing products - an entry level fluid head and a monopod - then added some cheesy fold out feet. This is not the case. This thing is a completely original design, and all the parts are custom made for this specific purpose. This is obvious within a minute after you take it out of the box. Yes, it has a fluid head, but the fluid head atop this monopod does not contain any pan or pan drag controls. The only adjustment on the fluid head is tilt. This is because the entire head and monopod assembly is rigid. If you look carefully at the picture, you will see a red cartridge at the foot of the monopod. This is the fluid pan mechanism. From pictures online, I thought it was something to do with the feet, but that's not the main function.

Because the pan damping system is at the base of the monopod, the entire assembly rotates to pan as a single unit. This makes for great moves - no loosening your grip on the shaft of the monopod and no torque or backlash that would occur if a conventional pan head were located atop a regular monopod. The fold down feet can be used to step on to further stabilize the monopod, and to give a firm foundation to pans. Another bonus - the extended height is tall enough to get over the head of crowds, perfect for video, especially if your camera has a tilt out screen.

This is a great device, and I am tickled with this purchase. Monopods are important to what I do, and this one is going to improve my shots far beyond the still monopod I have been using for video. This is perfect for DSLRs and HDSLR video. This is the perfect tool for quick camera setups and fast moves, especially where crowds of people are present. The only negative is I wish it had some kind of padded case or hard case. I've damaged a Manfrotto tripod recently due to having to pile gear into the car. Planning for transportation is the finishing touch in any professional level cinema production product.

All in all, highly recommended.
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on November 21, 2012
This monopod definitely is one of the best in the market. The bad side is that the fluid head just move in one direction (it was designed for such purpose), so if you have a tripod, you will be limited to use that fluid head. For the ones that have a tripod already, I would suggest to consider to get a 701HDV fluid head and the Manfrotto 562B-1 Fluid Video Aluminum Monopod. so you can use the fluid head in your tripod and take advantage of your investment.
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on May 2, 2012
Ok, maybe not goodbye, but you wont look at your tripod the same way EVER.

I thought 300 bucks was steep for a monopod, but this is TOTALLY WORTH IT.
I shoot weddings on a DSLR, and ever since I bought this thing, I leave my tripod in the car.

I can literally leave this thing stand alone and it balances perfectly still, this is WHILE my camera rig has the following:
Canon 60D with the heavy 18 - 135mm kit lense (cant afford to uprgade yet), WITH a battery grip, an 8" cold shoe bar on the top that holds my wireless mic receiver, my LED video light, my Rode Videomic AND a ball head that attaches to my Zoom H4N.
Thats a LOT of weight, that isn't very easily balanced. BUt the BHDV-1 holds it AMAZINGLY.

Shifting angles is a breeze cause its a monopod, and the fluid base allows for super sweet pans and tilts too.

One of my favorite things to do with it is to pop on my 50mm 1.4, lean in to get my target in focus. Back out and then just lean forward till it comes back into focus. Kind of like doing a push and rack focus without having to actually touch my focus.

StillMotion has an AMAZING demo video on their Vimeo page on the BHDV-1.
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on May 2, 2013

The King of the Monopods arrived in perfect condition and in under a weeks time. Amazon decided to lower the price of this monopod to $251.68 for one day and after taxes I am out $271.81......but whoa nelly ...... there is that $65.00 rebate for Manfrotto devices valued over $250.00 so $206.68 is the damage ... WOW ...... I SCORED - Bada Bing baby !

I tested this monopod out at the world famous San Diego Zoo and also at the Safari Park (Wild Animal Park) this past week here in California. Now I know why this monopod got rave reviews. My photos went to a whole new level for the better. The number of "newbie" pictures went way way down or almost next to none. The wife is an artist so she needs quality photos taken by me "the camera newbie" to build a portfolio of animals to later paint and sell. I took no less than 3,000 photos over two days with this monopod. I took videos and photos without a hitch. I am using a Canon SX-50 camera which I set to AUTO and pretend to know what I am doing. This is flat out a killer piece of monopod gear. I am 6'1" and it extends another 6 inches above my head and is rock solid and not wobbly. This monopod is a beast and very well made. It pans and tilts as smooth as molasses. I can pan with two or three fingers. I can tilt with one finger. There is a dial adjustment for the tilt drag and lock. The tilt will re-center itself to give you smooth action up or down. There are built in bubble levels on the fluid head. The legs and lock extension systems are intuitive and easy to use. Set up is done in under 15 seconds. The quick release system requires a two step process so your camera does not go flying off into space. The monopod is a tad bit on the heavy side carrying it gorilla style but when coupled with a padded bag - no problems with a shoulder sling.

The Manfrotto bag to sport your gear is the Manfrotto PART # MB MBAG80PN carrying bag. This is THE water proof padded bag for your monopod plus it looks cool (around $79.00) and it is quality. It is a tight fit in this Manfrotto padded bag so if you are planning to mount a ballhead on top of the fluid head, it will not fit, otherwise; the fit is snug. There is no wiggle room from inside top to bottom after the monopod is inside the bag so heads up. I keep a couple of extra plastic grocery baggies to use in a pinch to protect the monopods feet from dirt, mud or from animals whizzing in the zoo. No one has mentioned a good monopod bag in the reviews so here is the first one.

The BAD:

Many have reported the "popping" or stuttering which can occur from the bottom of the monopod's ball swivel system. Right out of the box I started to pan the monopod and I could feel the "popping" which would ruin any video shots. I kept working the monopod and the popping stopped. I touched the top exposed part of the ball at the base of the monopod and it appeared to have a real light grade oil so I figured I would just work the monopod until the oil worked its way around the joint and it worked. The popping just stopped all together. I have read others using WD-40, 3M's Dry Silicone, or Duponts Dry Teflon with success to lubricate the lower swivel ball joint so I am not worried about this issue since others have found simple maintenance solutions.

The Manfrotto monopod hand strap falls off easily so heads up. I accidentially knocked it off twice which is hard to do for a hand strap. I had the wife sew a few stiches at the tail end of the handstrap and to the strap itself and problemo. The hand strap will never fall off again.

BIG HEADS UP HERE ..... there is a plastic maintenance tool included to tighten the leg extension clamps. It pressure clamps onto the thickest part of the monopods shaft. This plastic maintenance tool will get lost and will fall off easily when bumped just right. One other person reported this weakness and they are right. I knocked it off repeatedly at the zoo. Put the plastic maintenance tool in your camera / gadget bag or other safe place otherwise; it will get lost eventually and then you will be bumming hard.


The high price of the monopod. I had buyers remorse paying so much. This is a stick that twists and tilts and I am thinking I have lost my mind over paying for camera / video gear. There are cheaper alternatives - I know......however; there was one post I read where the guy simply said "after all the cheap gear I bought I learned to just buy the better gear and understand you pay for what you get."

The UGLY period ended after two days of filming at the zoo and seeing the wonderful results on my computer later. Once you use this monopod, the UGLY phase will pass quickly.

So in conclusion ....... Trust a brother. Just buy it and have no regrets. That is all.
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on January 13, 2011
With a DSLR or smaller Camcorder you have the advantage of quick set up but incredible quality. What you don't need many times is the weight and bulk of a big tripod. When shooting concerts or events it is often useful to be able to set up, shoot some video and tear down fast. This gives you just what you need.

The fluid cartridge in the leg gives you amazingly smooth moves and the flip down feet add just the right amount of stability. it's simply awesome.

updated: now 5 stars :)
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on June 11, 2013
So I bought this based on all the rave reviews here and other places and after a couple months use I'm pretty happy I did.

The best thing about this monopod is the flexibility it gives you when shooting video in a tripod-unfriendly environment. You can be set up and shooting in a matter of seconds, in a tight corridor, on the edge of a cliff, on the subway if you want, whatever really. Tripods are great but this fills in the gaps.

Just don't expect to get tripod results from this monopod. If you don't mind a little 'floating' in your shots you should be content. I find it requires some skill to achieve usable pan/tilt shots and even static shots require a practiced touch.

The build quality is typical Manfrotto, very solid and sturdy but not needlessly heavy. As other reviews have stated, there is an issue with the pivot ball-joint at the base where it will stick occasionally. Mine was very bad and basically made the monopod unusable for me. I took it apart and filled the socket with white lithium grease... it's insanely smooth now but I've sacrificed the 'sticking point' in the center. I'm fine with this but it's something to consider.

Another thing to consider, this thing is fairly long even when packed up, if you have tripod attachments on your backpack they will likely be insufficient to hold this monopod. Manfrotto doesn't make a carry strap for this either which is disappointing. I managed to rig a carry strap using a Manfrotto tripod strap and with some modification it works ok.

Overall I found this monopod to be just what I was looking for in a flexible support system for HDSLR video. I took off one star for the sticking issue and the lack of a carry strap attachment point.
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on July 12, 2011
This is definitely a tool for video, no so much for stills. I used the Manfrotto BHDV561-1 to cover a professional gaming event (starcraft 2, if you are curious). I needed to take stills and video and this was an excellent tool. I was able to quickly set up for either video or stills with my Canon 7D. I used it with the 17-55mm 2.8 and 70-200mm 2.8 L lenses. If you need a monopod for ONLY stills, I think this one would be a pain; the pan/tilt handle will get in the way and just annoy you. HOWEVER, that being said, I adapted to it by tucking the handle into my armpit and using this configuration to help move the head for capturing stills quickly with my eye glued to the viewfinder. Not ideal, but a compromise because, as I said, this is really for video. I also used it as a so-so camera stabilizer for moving video (I will suggest some kind of additional weight on the bottom to help the stability--perhaps and ankle weight--though I didn't test this on the 561, I have done this on a folded tripod used as a "steadi-cam" It can get heavy, but it helps soften the shake). I also got some nice high shots by extending it all the way and holding from my waist. Shaky, but it got me above the crowd.

Here is a really big CON, however: The ball joint in the foot requires a bit of force to overcome it's internal friction when you move it. If you pan/tilt the monopod quickly and with force, there is no problem. But if you are trying to be sloooow and smooooth, then it will grab and stutter as it gets moving. It is possible to loosen the screws holding the ball joint to reduce this problem (this is a bug, not a feature--the instructions list this as maintenance to tighten the ball joint when it gets loose--not as an adjustment to customize the device).

All in all, I like this thing. It is a great compromise for fast video and stills in a small light package that lets you move and set up quickly. It isn't a substitute for a nice set of sticks, but that's not what it was meant for, either.

Also, if you have a heavy lens with a tripod collar, you will need a second camera plate: one for the camera, and one for the lens. The camera plate screws in, and is a pain to switch from camera to lens. Of course, if you already have a lens with a tripod collar, you already knew this...
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on August 15, 2012
I have spent the past 4 years running in and around the greater Washington, D.C. metro area working for a local LGBT magazine. We cover news and community events as well as a few produced shows online. I shoot with a Canon XH A1 and carry a full interview kit around with me that has to fit into a Petrol PC300 Backpack (hand-held mic, shotgun mic, light, XLR cable, batteries, etc). We frequently shoot in places where I need to remain mobile, and many where an unattended bag can cause alarm, so everything needs to be with me at all times.

I have a Manfrotto 504HD Video Tripod that I use when I have to lock down my camera for a while, but unless I am covering an event with a riser and a box, I never use it. It is far too heavy to run around with and too expensive to leave tucked in a corner. Up until this point we have been mostly hand-held, with some assistance from a brilliant little Anton Bauer EgripZ, but it wasn't ever a truly steady shot and it is exhausting holding the camera still for longer interviews. Shoulder mounted stabilizers were not useful to me (too limiting) and I had gone through a few monopods and was unimpressed with all of them...again, I had nice steady shots, but the monopod was ultimately too limiting. After shooting handheld for so long, I always felt trapped by the lack of movement.

This Manfrotto monopod is something completely different, and has allowed me to shoot in ways I was unable to before. Once you get used to the movements, the range of dynamic shots you can pull off with this thing are amazing. And unlike my bulky tripod, the full extended height puts me well above the shoulder-mounted crews for larger stories, always guaranteeing me a shot and a different perspective from the herd. The simple fact that it can spin in place at the expanding foot is a huge advantage. While everyone else is busy resetting their tripods, I just have to step to the side and move my wrist in a single, fluid turn. And if I am very, very careful, I can even get the rig to balance on its own at interview height or lower, eliminating any movement at all. I wouldn't dare extend it past my shoulders without both hands firmly in place, however.

By using the video head and the 360 foot together, you can pull off amazing sweeping shots. The detachable arm has just enough play in it, and just enough room to fit my Libec Zoom Control giving me smooth, effortless movement. The weight of my rig is a bit too much for the self-leveling head, but it still helps keep my tilt movements fluid. There is enough stability with one hand where I can stand at full arms length and conduct interviews with a nice, slightly-to-the-side angle on my subject. And if I need to, it allows me to quickly pull back and get my reporter in the shot. I have also found I can get fairly good stability when I turn my rig upside down and let the camera hang for low shots.

The weight of the monopod is light enough that I can swap it from hand to hand and never get tired of carrying it, and has so far performed with only a minor quibble: the ball joint tends to stick in the middle as you pass through the center axis, so be sure to hit it with some WD40 once in a while to keep the movement fluid. Additionally, the way the quick-release for the mounting plate is set up puts the knob flush with the bottom of my camera when locked, so I always need to pry it open with the edge of my keys. Kind of defeats the purpose of having a quick release plate, but it is a minor annoyance on what is otherwise the best and most transformative piece of run-and-gun video kit I have ever used.
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