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Tim has been interested in photography for many years. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology and a Master's in Environmental Science. Writing nature articles allows him to combine his interest in photography and nature into one medium.

Review of Manfrotto 685B Monopod

The Manfrotto 685B Monopod

I bought a Manfrotto 685B monopod several months ago in order to have a relatively stable platform in places that I couldn’t take a tripod.  I was looking for a monopod that was really easy to adjust, because I planned to mount a bracket made by Custom Brackets, which requires quite a bit of adjustment in itself.  The only monopod that I could find that was easy to move up and down with one hand was the 685B.

Features

The main feature of the 685B is the ability to raise and lower it with one hand.  On the bottom of the monopod is a small plastic step for raising the monopod.  The raising control itself is in the grip and you just squeeze on the grip and pull up.  Other than this feature, it seems pretty much the same as every other monopod I’ve seen or used.

How I Use It

If at all possible, I will use my tripod to get the most stable image I can.  However, sometimes that’s just not possible.  For example, I attended a Meetup.com outing and was with a group of 30 or so other photographers in a busy urban setting.  If we had all been using tripods, it would have been major chaos.  The monopod was easy to carry, easy to setup and take down, and didn’t get in anyone’s way.  As a side benefit, I do feel a little safer when I’m carrying the monopod;  for example, if an angry dog attacks, at least I have something to put between him and me.

I also take my monopod out in situations where it would be too much effort to take the tripod.  If I’m on a long hike, it’s much easier carrying the monopod and I can use it as a hiking stick.  I haven’t used the 658B in severe conditions yet or around water, so I won’t be able to comment on it’s durability in those conditions.

What I Like About It

As mentioned previously, the feature that sold me on the 658B was the ability to easily extend.  I like this feature and it works very well.  The little piece of plastic on the bottom has also worked well so far, although it feels a little flimsy.  The monopod is also very stable and feels very solid.  The mount on top works fine and has a very easy system for mounting a camera or other equipments.

What I Don’t Like About It

My one gripe with the 658B is a little trigger that has to be depressed with your pinky while depressing the grip and raising or lower the monopod.  Personally, I don’t see the need for the “pinky switch” and it’s a little irritating to have to depress it.  I don’t believe that accidentally depressing the grip would be an issue, but if it was,  I don’t believe the consequences would be that great (basically, the height of the monopod would go down a few inches).  Luckily, my hands are large enough to press the “pinky switch” and grip at the same time, but for someone with small hands, it could be a problem.  I think Manfrotto missed the mark by installing that “pinky switch”.

My only other concern is the longevity of the 658B.  For a monopod, it has a lot of moving parts and I’m concerned that water, sand, dirt, and dust will be able to infiltrate it.  If water or debris does get inside the mechanisms, it may be difficult or impossible to remove.  Because of this, I tend to baby the 658B and if I expect less than ideal conditions, I’ll take my inexpensive monopod.

Conclusion

The Manfrotto 658B definitely fills a niche in my equipment arsenal and I like it’s ability to relatively easily be raised and lowered.  However, I don’t see the need for the “pinky switch” and I’m concerned about it’s debris and water resistance abilities.  Overall, I would recommend this product, but realize that it may have it’s limitations.

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