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Home > Reviews > Velbon UP-40 Compact 4-Section Monopod

Velbon UP-40 Compact 4-Section Monopod/Unipod Review
02/22/2003 - Updated 05/06/2006

The Velbon UP-40 4-section monopod is a nice accessory for my digital compact camcorder and DSLR camera and it is my first monopod ever. It is small (18.3" folded) yet it extends to 61". The UP-40's lightweight makes it easy to take it with you anywhere. When in the field, or nature, a monopod is easy to carry and setup, allowing you to use longer lens, or zoom in close, for steadier shots. It's not meant to replace the tripod, but in situations where it is impractical to setup a tripod, the monopod comes in very handy.

Unfortunately, for very low light conditions, or where long exposures are required, your best chance is to use a tripod (if you want a decent shot).

Anatomy of the UP-40
At the head of the UP-40 is a solid metal cylinder. I appears to be cast aluminum, but could be milled from a round bar stock. It's about 1 3/16" diameter by about 1" long. There's a slight recess on top where a dense cork pad is glued in place. A 1/4"-20 threaded rod is used for the camera mount. As you can see in one of the picture on the left, the UP-40 is made in China.

The flimsy vinyl wrist strap is attached to the head with a metal ring to an eyebolt that is secured solidly to the head. The strap is replaceable but, so far, it is still in pretty good shape.

The 4-section legs are made from tubular aluminum. The legs do not twist due to the single groove in the tube. The clamps are all plastic, except for the metal pivot pin, and there are no adjustments for tension, should the clamps become loose. When releasing the clamps for the first time, I was horrified at how sloppy the tubes slide within one another, but, after tightening the clamps, the UP-40 is solid.

The grip/handle appears to be neoprene, or some open cell foam with the density of neoprene.

I can't seem to find any information on the maximum load capacity. I know that the UP-40 is very solid with my TRV950, which weighs about 3 lbs with the large battery pack.

At the bottom is a tapered non-skid rubber foot. It seems to be pressed in place. I tried to gently pry it out, but it seems to be locked in somehow. Well, I'd better leave it alone and, not break it.

These photos show the Velbon UP-40 next to Bogen / Manfrotto's 680B. Both are 4-section monopods, compact (UP-40: 18.3", 680B: 20 ") and extends to more than 60 inches (UP-40: 61", 680B: 60.6"). However the UP-40 weighs only 12.3 oz compared to 28.8 oz for the 680B.

Velbon's UP-40 is a rugged monopod, although I haven't abused it to determine how tough it really is. When using the UP-40 with my DCR-PC101 camcorder, I mainly use it like a steadycam. I would find a balance point on the foam grip where the swing motion is minimized. Then I can walk around with the camcorder, capturing very stable video as compared to the nauseous boat rocking I get when hand holding.

Recently I've added Bogen/Manfrotto's 484RC2 Mini Ballhead with Rapid Connect 2 to the UP-40. The advantages to adding some type of swivel/tilt head to the monopod allows you to point the camcorder/camera down or up. Things that happen on the ground or in the sky, can be captured. For the camera, the swivel/tilt head is a must. There are times when you need to capture a portrait shot and the swivel/tilt head allows you to do just that.

I have to apologize for my first impressions of Velbon's UP-40. It didn't appear to have the quality of higher end brand names such as Bogen, but, after a few years of using this monopod, the UP-40 is durable. From the flimsy vinyl strap, which shows very little signs of wear, to what appeared to be cheap clamps, which still hold tight, I'll have to admit, I'm real pleased with it. There are a few dings in the thin aluminum tube legs, but the dings do not hinder the legs sliding in or out.


Gary Kawamura

Material: Tubular aluminum with titanium finish
Still Photography: Yes
Maximum Height: 61" (154.9 cm)
Minimum Height: 18.3 " (46.5 cm)
Leg Sections: 4
Leg Lock Type: Flip-levers
Foot Type: Rubber
Male Thread Size: 1/4"-20
Maximum Load Capacity: N/A
Weight: 12.3 oz (0.35 kg)
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