Which monopod should you use for shooting virtual tours with a 360 camera? I have dozens of stands and some have proven more useful than others. Here are the gear that I use.
When shooting 360 photos or virtual tours with a 360 camera, you’ll need a stand for your camera. A traditional tripod made for a DSLR is too large, too bulky and will cover an unnecessarily large portion of the floor or the nadir of the 360 photo (especially if it has a pan head for video). Here are the gear that I use for 360 cameras.
I recommend tripod legs that are individually adjustable. That’s because you may find yourself shooting on an incline. If you use a lightstand or tripod where the legs are not individually adjustable, then the stand will be tilted. The tilted horizon is not a problem because it can be leveled, but if the stand is tilted, the stand and your camera might fall.
My favorite tripod legs are the MT02 (around $34), which is sold under various names such as Koolehaoda and Manbily. This stand has legs with two positions and can be individually extended, allowing them to be usable on inclines.
When the legs are used in the flat position, they provide an extra wide base for better stability, with a radius of about 13.5 inches (35 cm).
I also like how the spring-loaded connector can be used with either 1/4-20 or 3/8 connectors, without needing an adapter.
Monopod or selfie stick
Versatile monopod for drone-like shots. There are many good choices for monopods. One of my favorite ones is the Insta360 Extended Edition Selfie Stick version 2. What I like about it is that it can extend up to 3 meters and collapse to just 36 cm. When fully extended, it can capture drone-like angles. Best of all, I can set it at any length I want simply by pulling or pushing it – no need to use twist locks or flip locks. This makes it excellent for run-and-gun shooting. The disadvantage of the Extended Edition Selfie Stick is that without flip locks or twist locks, it cannot support the weight of heavier cameras like the Pilot Era.
Sturdy monopod for heavier cameras. If you want a monopod that can support heavier cameras, check out the Best360 monopod or the Bushman monopod, which are similar. Both have very good build quality, are very sturdy and have twist locks to support heavier cameras. Here is a comparison between the Best360 and Bushman monopod.
Best value monopod. If you are on a tight budget, you can get the Insta360 Invisible Selfie Stick (around $16) or the Insta360 Selfie Stick with Built-In Tripod (around $25). The Invisible Selfie Stick isn’t as sturdy as the Bushman or Best360 but it can be locked and can support more weight than the Extended Edition Selfie Stick.
For casual shooting, I like the new Insta360 Selfie Stick with Built-In Tripod, which is almost as long as the original Invisible Selfie Stick but has built-in tripod legs that automatically open, which makes it very convenient. However, the legs are not individually adjustable and you cannot connect it to the MT-02 stand, and the base has a radius of only about 6 inches, so I would only recommend it for indoor use. It also does not have twist locks or flip locks, so it cannot support heavier cameras.
How do I make my monopod or selfie stick invisible to my 360 camera?
There has been some confusion about how monopods or selfie stick become invisible to a 360 camera. A selfie stick’s invisibility to a 360 camera has nothing to do with software or a proprietary technology by Insta360 or other 360 camera companies. If you want your selfie stick or monopod to be invisible to your 360 camera, just check to make sure that it is narrower than your 360 camera. As long as the shaft of selfie stick is slimmer than your 360 camera, it should appear invisible. Note you only need to worry about the part of the shaft that is up to 3 feet or so from the camera. If it is thicker than your 360 camera beyond that distance, it should still be invisible. For virtual tours, the tripod legs will almost certainly be visible but you can erase them using software.