My hands got really tired from using a hand strap (the kind that wrap around your hand, not the wrist kind) after a long day use. The thing with hand strap is that it still requires you to grip the camera full time, although less strength needed on your fingers because some weight are carried by the strap.

So now I'm considering other systems to aid me carry my camera throughout the day. On the same day that I was out (a trip to the zoo) I've seen some photographers use monopods and some use should straps. What are the pros and cons between them?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It's always great for the poster to know why the question got down voted. If you can, please do. \$\endgroup\$
    – Regmi
    May 27, 2013 at 4:46
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ What are the pros and cons of lawn mowers vs bicycles? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    May 27, 2013 at 13:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ mattdm doesn't look too smart now does it when people are upvoting the question and answers? \$\endgroup\$
    – erotsppa
    May 28, 2013 at 4:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm It does seem a bit like that on first impressions but if you analyse what erotsppa is asking then you would find that the question makes sense because a monopod can assist in making it easier to carry a camera. e.g. by allowing the photographer to rest while taking photos or a photographer can use the monopod as a walking stick (with light enough camera). It is also easier to carry a heavy weight when the weight is balanced, which a monopod can assist with if carried the right way. \$\endgroup\$ May 28, 2013 at 4:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ To be clear, I didn't down vote. I just am explaining where the negative reactions are probably coming from. Note that one of the two answers is "You can't compare these two things" and the other doesn't even really try; it just talks about them separately. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    May 28, 2013 at 10:32

3 Answers 3


Here are various reasons that I may choose to use a hand strap, shoulder strap (never around the neck), monopod, or tripod:

Hand Strap - I don't currently have a hand strap and have not used one for a couple of years, my gear is just too heavy at this point. Fast lenses on prosumer DSLRs are too heavy for me to carry with just a hand strap for 5 hours at a time. But if I had a lightweight system, like a 4/3 or a rangefinder style camera I would exclusively use a hand strap for the ease of use and quick access.

Monopod - I shoot youth sports and have had many days when I think very hard about dragging a monopod around, but when I look at a photographer who is using a monopod at a game it always seems to be slowing them down and keeping them glued to a single location. I prefer to stay in motion and cover the entire game, a monopod just gets in the way of that. If I was going to be sitting in one location, or was stuck in a press area, I would totally use a monopod, but otherwise not.

Tripod - I have 4 different tripods, one for all occasions. I use them for low light landscape and architectural photography. I have not used a tripod for any other reason in the last 5 years and don't expect I ever will again.

Shoulder Strap - my main means of carrying my camera gear and camera around are with shoulder straps. On my bags I use Optech or similar neoprene straps that have a lot of give to them. They are very comfortable and the stretch makes a huge difference when carrying heavy loads. I wear them bandolier style across my chest.

For carrying my camera I use an Up Strap LARGE PAD CAMERA STRAP + HEAVY DUTY RELEASE + KEVLAR ENDS. I tried a lot of different straps before this one... OEM straps are harsh and chafe my skin, neoprene straps won't stay on my shoulder, many straps do not have a quick release that I require for low light or when I just want the strap out of the way. The Up Strap has solved all of these issues. It stays on my shoulder like glue, the rubber pad does not chafe my skin or hold moisture. Even with a 100-400 lens on a 5d Mk III with a battery grip I feel very secure with this strap and I can carry it all day long.

I recommend giving different straps a try, if you are interested in a monopod, give that a try. But don't cheap out, don't buy some piece of junk that costs half of what others cost and expect to have a good experience. When you are out taking pictures, ask other photographers how they like the gear they are using. Experiment.


There isn't really any comparison between a shoulder strap or a monopod. A shoulder strap is used to carry a camera when not in use and to keep it easily accessible. A good shoulder strap is highly recommended as it both makes it more comfortable to have the camera at the ready as well as being a nice safety feature to prevent it from hitting the ground if you drop it.

A monopod on the other hand is a stabilization device. It supports the weight of the camera so that you only have to worry about keeping it steady rather than supporting and keeping it steady. The benefit is greatly increased the heavier the camera is, but it can be beneficial for keeping any camera steady, particularly if you don't have very steady hands. It isn't quite as steady as a good tripod would allow, but it's a nice balance of mobility and stability.

Personally, I always use a shoulder strap and I frequently use my monopod. At times (when shooting video since I use my viewfinder for photos) I may actually use the two together by putting camera out at arms length, supported by my shoulder strap in one direction and by the monopod in another. A similar technique could be applied to shooting with a LiveView mode, though I personally prefer to just use the monopod for support and look through the viewfinder for photos (where extended stability is also not normally quite as critical as for video.)



  • (+) Added stability when taking photo
  • (+) Can be used to support you by leaning on it/used as a walking stick
  • (-) Can be bulky/difficult to carry

Neck/shoulder strap:

  • (+) Provides a safety net should you drop your camera
  • (-) Having heavy gear around your neck/shoulder can give you neck/shoulder ache

The ideal solution is to have a separate camera bag that distributes the weight over both of your shoulders, however this can be inconvenient.


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