If you are here, you probably already know, why pole for GoPro is useful, right? First I will go through some good DIY videos, so you can try and make it yourself. Then I will give an overview of what exists on the market and what are the differences between different poles. We will also dive into poles appropriate for use in the water and for scuba diving.
1. Difference between pole and monopod
Now let's first clarify what is the difference between a pole and a monopod.
Monopod if partially self explaining as the mono stands for one, and pod for support. So it is single staff or pole used to help support camera, binoculars etc. It is mostly used in photography. Usually it is an extendable stick with an exchangeable bottom part depending on the terrain (rubber for indoor and hard surfaces or spike for nature) and a standard mounting screw on top. Optionally it can have an adjustable head on top to adjust the angle of the camera.
Pole is similar to monopod, but it is used differently. Usually you hold it on the other side. So monopod stands on something and you hold it near the camera, while your pole is held in your hand and the camera is on the other side. This helps you take photos / videos of yourself or take a different perspective when filming as it sort of extends your arm. Difference is only subtle and in principle both can be used for both purposes.
Doing it yourself takes a bit of patience and work, but is usually cheaper than buying something already made. Most DIY guides require GoPro mount accessories like GoPro pole mount which can sometimes be expensive by themselves. At the very least you have to purchase the camera attachment screw (which can be quite hard to find in the stores) and tripod adapter for GoPro. This should cost only around 10€ and you can do quite a lot with it.
So here are some videos / webpages to create a pole yourself:
GoPro water float handle made of sun cream bottle and gopro mount
GoPro float handle made of tripod mount and Fanta bottle (I tried to make this one and it is quite simple and works well)
Kayak camera mount made from monopod
Converting monopod to a pole
Car wash pole
You can experiment with many mounts for GoPro (bicycle, adhesive, wristband etc.). Find more ideas here.
3. Pole shopping options
There are quite some companies on the market making poles. The differences are in quality of built (materials, max. allowed camera weight), attachment options (tripod screw / Gopro attachment), length, weight and waterproofness. Prices range from around 10€ (ordered directly from China) to around 60€+ for a high quality pole.
At the very lowest end you can order a cheap pole from "unknown" manufacturer at DealExtreme (free shipping to some countries). It has a camera and GoPro attachment and it is a good deal for the price. For a DSLR it is not suitable as it is not capable of holding that much weight, but for GoPro or compact camera it works well.
In the mid and high-end range we come across this companies:
Most of the companies make consumer and Pro versions of their poles. Consumer cost somewhere around 30-40€ while Pro cost 50-70€. Pro usually means better materials and better grip, more load weight, more features. But not all Pro versions are usable under all conditions. The price can vary a lot, so you really should have a look at all the available products and decide for the one that suits you best.
Only a handful of Pro products handle extreme conditions like salty sea water. But more about that in the next section.
4. Diving and underwater use
You won't get far with consumer version of poles here. Even some Pro versions do not explicitly state they are waterproof. Stainless steel, aluminium, plastic and fibers are all good materials for use in water. However when dealing with salty water, steel or aluminium is not good enough. It should be rust proof steel or anodized aluminium. Even better if it is stated that the pole complies with ASTM B117 / ISO 9227 saltwater standard. On a pole used in water it's also good to have a strap (which most poles do have) in order not to lose it in the depths of the sea. This applies also to DIY as well, example here. For diving also neutral buoyancy is good.
Basically for underwater use there are the following accessories: floating/non-floating grips, extendable poles and professional camera equipment. We are interested in extendable poles so below is a list of all salt proof poles with their basic characteristics:
|Product||Length in cm||Weight||Wrist strap||Max. load||Waterproof||Price||Website|
|P.O.V. Pole 19"||17,5-48cm||unknown||Y||unknown||salt water proof||39,90€||Link|
|P.O.V. Pole 36"||28,5-92,5cm||unknown||Y||unknown||salt water proof||49,90€||Link|
|GoPole Reach||43-100cm||225g||Y||unknown||salt water proof||54$||Link|
|GoPole Evo||66cm||225g||Y||unknown||salt water proof to 60m||54,99$||Link|
|UShot 2.0||18-49cm||105g||Y||3kg||salt water resistant ball head||39,99$||Link|
|XShot Pro||17,8-78,8cm||189g||Y||570g||suitable for diving||74,95$||Link|
|Kaiser Quik Pod DSLR Action||47cm-135cm||295g||Y||1,5kg||saltwater standard||53,50€||Link|
|Quikpod Explorer II||22-99cm||145g||Y||453g||saltwater standard||49,95$||Link|
|Quikpod Explorer 3||22-99cm||170g||Y||453g||saltwater standard||59,95$||Link|
|Quikpod DSLR/Pov Ultra||45-135cm||283g||Y||2kg||saltwater standard||69,95$||Link|
|AquaPod||46-135cm||250g||Y||2kg||salt water proof||69$||Link|
A good source of information are also discussions on scuba diving forums like this one.