Tips On Choosing A Selfie Stick
Love them or hate them, a selfie stick can be a very useful piece of equipment in your backpack. In recent years with smartphone cameras getting more and more powerful enabling you to take much better quality photos, and with prices for smartphones and action cameras being more affordable to the average consumer, selfie sticks have exploded in popularity. A the very mention of the term ‘selfie stick’, the normal words that spring to mind are probably the likes of ’vain’, ‘annoying’ and ‘look at me!’, but at FunkyKit we’ve found so many other uses for a good selfie stick, and we’re only glad to offer you some tips on picking the right one for you.
A selfie stick is a monopod used to take selfie photographs by positioning a smartphone or camera beyond the normal range of the arm. The metal sticks are typically extendable, with a handle on one end and an adjustable clamp on the other end to hold a phone in place. Some have remote or Bluetooth controls, letting the user decide when to take the picture, and models designed for cameras have a mirror behind the viewscreen so that the shot can be lined up. In contrast to a monopod for stabilising a camera on the ground, a selfie stick’s arm is thickest and strongest at the opposite end from the camera in order to provide better grip and balance when held aloft. Safety concerns and the inconvenience the product causes to others have resulted in their being banned at many venues, including all Disney Parks, both Universal Studios Orlando and Hollywood.
There’s still some debate on when a selfie stick was first used, such as the photo taken in 1925 above, but there’s no denying that the its popularity has grown exponentially in recent years.
Size & Length
Look for one that has the right range of length for you. We have used our selfie stick for different purposes; as a microphone boom, to shoot elevated shots on our action cameras, and even just as a stabilizer for chest-height shots, so the length of the stick is important. Sure, you might just want to take selfie photos of a large group of you, so you’ll need to have the camera positioned quite far away from you to capture everybody in the photo. The vast majority of selfie sticks are retractable, but how big is it when fully retracted? Does it stick out of the top of your backpack? Look for one that is easy to carry.
Build & Weight
The cheapest selfie sticks can be bought for a few bucks, but they tend resemble one of those TV aerials we had back in the 80s, so when fully extended you will get some bend on it. There’s no point getting a seriously heavy duty one that can hold the weight of a full-frame DSLR, as you’ll struggle to hold it in place with all that weight several feet away from you. The more expensive ones are made with lightweight alloys which offer strength along its body. When you’ve mounted your equipment onto the end of your selfie stick and have it extended 5 feet away from you, you don’t want any bend or your arms aching after just a few seconds of holding it.
Here’s when I’ll move away from calling it a selfie stick and start referring to it as a monopod. A versatile monopod will allow you use different equipment with it. Some of the cheaper selfie sticks you see around have spring clips on the end to clamp down on your smartphone. Thats all good if thats all you are going to use with it, but what about when you want to attach something else to the end of it? Most photography equipment will use a standard 1/4 inch screw thread, and we have found it a godsend that our monopod has one of these to attach our shotgun microphone holder or a compact camera. Onto this screw you can get action camera clips which will allow you to mount the said action camera securely.
What about the other end of the selfie stick; the end you hold? With a good selfie stick you will find a screw tread at the bottom of the handle into which you can screw in a base. With this base attached, your selfie stick becomes a true monopod, allowing you take steady shots on your camera, without sacrificing having to carry around a big tripod around with you. With one hand helping to balance the monopod, I’ve mounted my DSLR onto it before to take steady close up shots.
Ask yourself if you really need the newer gimmicks you can now get with a selfie stick. An automatic extending/retracting one? Or if you need to have a built-in Bluetooth remote control to operate the shutter. Consider then that with a built-in remote control you will have to insert batteries into the handle of the selfie stick to power it, which means more weight for you to hold on one extended arm. You can even get ones with a USB port so you can charge up your camera/phone…….
The one we use is the Yunteng 188. It ticks all the above boxes for us, giving us plenty of joy to use (that was after the initial smirks I got after I purchased it). I picked mine up in Sham Shui Po for HKD$79, and that’s probably the best bang per buck piece of equipment I’ve got.
Coupled with this, you may recall I purchased a monopod base from Taobao about a month back, and these 2 pieces of equipment are now always in my backpack.