Sirui P-326 Carbon Fiber Monopod Review

Sirui P-326 Monopod Review

Yes, yet another gear review. A trip to your neighbourhood camera shop will guarantee that you are confronted with dozens of tripods, monopods, and other various camera mounting and stability solutions. I had a trip to Japan coming up, and I needed a discrete, semi-mobile stability solution. While my tripod would have done the trick, I didn’t want to lug it around the country or carry it with me during my 20km+ daily treks. A monopod, it would seem, could fit the bill. Enter the Sirui P-326 Carbon Fiber Monopod.

My camera, a 5DmkII isn’t the lightest out there. Nor are the series of L lenses I own. Knowing a monopod isn’t ideal for some of the longer lenses I own, I needed:

  • A monopod that would be a secure mount for a mid-weight setup.
  • Extend to eye height (I’m 5’10″/178cm)
  • Set up quickly and discretely for those low light shots and where space needs to be considered. 

I use a Manfrotto tripod. It’s well built, nice and sturdy, and I have had no issues with reliability. So naturally, that was going to be my first port of call to get a take on the monopod market. But a local camera shop pointed me to a newer (and previously unknown to me) brand called Sirui. Founded in 2001, they manufacture what I would soon find to be reasonably priced high quality products that carry six year warranties as opposed to Manfrotto’s two years.

The Sirui P-326 Carbon Fiber Monopod Stats

Sirui P-326

A sturdy, well built monopod that does the job and doesn’t break the bank.

In any good review, you’d mention all the expected stats. It weighs just under half a kg, collapses down to around 40cm in length and supports up to 10kg when fully extended to 155cm. 

The tripod itself has five sections, making it very compact. Once you’re used to unscrewing the individual sections, you’ll be able to set it up and compact it in around 30 seconds. Perhaps less, if you’re more coordinated than I am. All this, in a product that retails for less that AU$150. Remarkably good value particularly when compared to the competition. So how did it do in the field?

Field testing

In a nutshell, great. Japan is full of temples and shrines where discretion is key and there are ‘no tripod’ signs everywhere.

Fully extended, it is tall enough for my 5’10” (178cm) frame, with a bit of room to spare. Compacted, it sat perfectly in my Peak Design 13″ Everyday Messenger Bag (a GREAT bag, but more on that later). It was a sturdy mount for my camera which was important for me as I find myself pushing down on the top of my camera to steady what are otherwise unsteady hands. It also comes with a wriststrap which aided me in this technique. Worth mentioning, it also comes with a caribeener and a compass – neither of which I’ve used to date, but hey, free stuff!

Inside Kiyomizu-dera. 1 sec. exposure using the Sirui P-326 monopod.

The bottom of the monopod has an extendable metal spike for added stability.

My trip around Japan included many 20km days and my camera gear came everywhere with me. Saying a monopod weighs just under half a kilo probably doesn’t mean much. But my biggest takeaway from the trip is that coupled with the 5DmkII, my 50mm prime and 24-70L f/4.0 that was in my bag, carrying this monopod was not a noticeable weight increase. In fact, on my trips up the hills around Kyoto, I often used the monopod as a hiking pole (for those off-the-path adventures, it even has a retractable metal spike at the bottom for extra stability). A word of warning though – if not extended, and walking through areas of dirt, I found that you were likely to take a bit of the nature home with you, as mud and gunk could easily get stuck in the bottom. 

Now I wouldn’t call myself a monopod expert but the Sirui P-326 did what I asked it to do and more, at a price point that was more than reasonable and very competitive to the competition. I would recommend this monopod to anyone in low light situations where they’re just looking for a little extra stability, and a tripod just is either too bulky, too slow to setup, or isn’t allowed. 

Botanical Building, Balboa Park

Balboa Park. San Diego’s Rich History.

The largest cultural complex west of the Mississippi, Balboa Park is called the “Smithsonian of the West” for the number of cultural institutions within the park. Built for temporary use during the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego, the buildings here are beautiful enough to be considered attractions in themselves. But the real draw is are the museums themselves. Among its attractions are eight gardens, 15 museums, and the San Diego Zoo.

The architectural beauty of Balboa Park.

Balboa Park is San Diego’s cultural crown jewel. Covering over 1,200 acres, the park is home to more than a dozen museums including the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the world famous San Diego Zoo, rated the #1 zoo in the world.

There is so much to see and do in Balboa Park. With the Zoo worth a day in itself, don’t try to squeeze it all in in just a day. In fact, some museums are closed on one day a week, whereas another day is free admission if you’re a San Diego resident.

First Tuesday

Second Tuesday

Third Tuesday

Fourth Tuesday

Fifth Tuesdays

  • Regular admission prices are in effect

Even if you don’t plan to visit any of the museums, the park is worth a visit. Hidden paths and architecture details present you with numerous opportunities to capture the details of bygone eras and cultural details. Shady corridors provide relief from the Southern Californian sun, and friendly San Diegans make the experience a worthwhile experience.

What lens to use?

Bring the lot. A wide angle lens will be beneficial in capturing the park layout, but a zoom lens or a prime lens will allow you to capture the architectural details of the buildings or the exhibits on display. One of my personal favourites, dating back to my childhood, is the Model Railroad Museum. And while a tripod may not be allowed in some of the museums, a monopod will allow you to get that extra stability in low light situations. I particularly like the Sirius P-326.

Kinsol Trestle

Bad weather photography. Taking good photos in harsh conditions.

Sometimes we just can’t catch a break. No matter how much time we spend planning for the perfect trip, arriving at your destination at the perfect time, and setting up to capture the perfect shot, sometimes it just doesn’t go according to plan. Often, it’s bad weather that throws all the careful planning out the window. But bad weather photography can have its advantages. Continue reading →