Surveillance video requires that you get legally identifiable shots of your target without being so close that the operation is compromised. Current video camcorders such as the Canon XA-30 offer some very good digital zooms that allow shots to be made more than 3 city blocks away. But it is almost impossible to hand-hold a camcorder when zoomed in to a target using digital zoom. A tripod may be too bulky and there may not be enough room in a vehicle or wherever the surveillance is be conducted. A monopod may be a better solution. Our friend Chris Norman at Norman Camera in Kalamazoo, Michigan is a big fan of the Monfrotto 560B. It features a quick release plate and folding legs. Chris is adamant in warning users not to leave their camcorder unattended on the monopod.
Detective Janice Oppmann of the Chester, NY Police Department uses an Oben ACM-2400L monopod. It is made of aluminum and has 4 sections. It, too, has mini-legs which help stabilize the monopod when she is shooting. Rated for more than 26-pounds, Detective Oppmann’s unit uses a standard 1/4-20 tripod thread to attach to her camcorder.
Monopods are relatively inexpensive, quick to set up and easy to use. Some participants in our classes have also found monopods useful in steadying a camcorder while shooting handheld. Give this a try and see if it helps you. Attach the monopod to your camcorder and instead of extending it simply use it as a counterweight.