Oben CTM-2500 Carbon Fiber Monopod Review

For low light shooting or when using a large lens, a tripod is generally your best bet but wildlife and sports photographers often will opt for a monopod when a tripod is not convenient or when they need a break from hefting a heavy rig. In this review, we will take a look at the Oben CTM-2500, a 5-section lightweight carbon fiber monopod as well as a tilt head, the Oben VH-R2. Both items have been kindly provided by B&H.

1) Product Specifications:

Monopod:
Maximum Length 65” (165.1cm)
Closed Length 17.3” (43.9cm)
Load Capacity 26 lb (11.8 kg)
Material 6x Carbon Fiber
Leg Sections 5
Leg Lock type Twist lock
Male Thread Size ¼”-20 and 3/8” -18
Weight 1.05 lb (470 g)
Head:
Head Type: Tilt (180 degrees)
Load Capacity 11 lb (5kg)
Quick Release Type Yes, RP-20 QR plate (included)
Male Thread Size 1//4” or 3/8” (with included bushing)
Height 2.6” (67mm)
Weight 10.2 oz (290 g)

2) Handling

2.1) Monopod

The first thing that you notice about this monopod, is its size, at barely over 17 inches in length (collapsed) and one pound in weight, it is small and light. It will easily fit in luggage, a backpack or even on a belt with the included belt clip. Despite being lightweight, it will support a professional body and lens up to 26 lbs. when attached directly to the monopod. However, if the VR-H2 head is used, the weight limit drops to 11 lbs.

Oben 5 section Carbon Fiber Monopod

There is a nice padded section below the base that adds comfort especially in cold conditions. A strap is connected which adds to the stability depending on how you use the monopod. However, one problem that I found is that the wrist strap is too long and I wished that I could have adjusted it shorter but that’s not possible. When using the strap to steady the monopod, it places your hand below the padded portion of the shaft. Notice in the photo below the hand placement on the Oben (top) compared to the placement on my comparable monopod from Jobu Design (bottom).

Oben CTM-2500 Monopod Sideview

The sections lock using twist style locks similar to those found on my Gitzo Systematic tripod. Personally, I prefer the twist style locking mechanism to the lever style found on many monopods and tripods. When I first started to use the Oben monopod, the legs and the locking mechanisms seemed to be not nearly as smooth as those found on my Gitzo Systematic tripod, but with use, they have loosened up and are now smoother but still not as nice as on the Gitzo. You have to twist the locks more in order to loosen or tighten the legs than you do on the Gitzo and the sections tend to catch and not extend as smoothly. Like many monopods, at the end of the bottom section of the leg there is an anti slip rubber foot with a retractable spike.

When fully extended, there is some flex in the leg but not anymore than one would expect with a monopod and is comparable to the flex in my 4 piece carbon fiber monopod from Jobu Design:

Oben Carbon Fiber Monopod Extended

A clip that holds a hex/allen wrench attaches to the shaft but I find that it tends to be in the way so I remove it during use and only attach it during storage:

To give you some idea of size here is a photo of the Oben CTM-2500 5-Section Carbon Fiber (left), the Jobu Design 4-Section Carbon Fiber (center) and a Manfrotto 3-Section Aluminum monopod (right):

Lastly, the monopod comes in a thin cloth sleeve for storage:

2.2) The VH-R2 head

The VH-R2 is a simple tilt head that offers a quick release mechanism and comes in handy depending on the lens you are using and how you choose to hold the monopod. Using the tilt head limits the weight to 11 lbs, down from 26 lbs if the camera and lens are attached directly. Thus I wouldn’t use the head if attaching a camera with a larger lens, say a 300/2.8 or larger. In those cases, attach the lens foot directly to the monopod.

The locking mechanism for the camera plate is nice with a double lever action. Simply seat the camera and plate into the base and the lever is spring loaded to close and then lock fully by moving the lever against the base. To unlock, both levers must be used to avoid accidental opening. When the levers are unlatched, the base will be unlocked and will raise slightly out of the receiving end of the head.

One limitation is that the head will not tilt a full 90º (or a full 180º) without removing the monopod collar first as seen below.

3) Sample Images

Here are some sample images that were captured with the Oben CTM-2500 monopod, with Nikon 500mm f/4 VR mounted on the Nikon D4:
Wood Duck

Wood Duck #2

Wood Duck #3

Wood Duck #4

Squirrel

Big Horn Sheep

Disney

White Egret

Heron

Steller's Jay #1

Steller's Jay #2

Steller's Jay #3

4) Summary

The Oben CTM-2500 Carbon fiber monopod with the VH-R2 head is a nice, light compact kit. While not quite as nice as a comparable more expensive Gitzo carbon fiber monopod, they represent a good value for the price. You will have to exert a little more effort to adjust the leg compared to the Gitzo but it is functional and the size and weight are excellent at a very good price.

5) Where to Buy

The Oben CTM-2500 5-Piece Carbon Fiber Monopod and the VH-R2 head can be purchased at B&H Photo as a kit or separately (prices are as of Oct. 19, 2012):

The CTM-2500 Carbon Fiber Monopod with VH-R2 Head Kit sells for $165.95
The CTM-2500 Monopod sells for $139.95
The Oben VH-R2 Tilt Head for Monopods sells for $34.95

Oben CTM-2500 Carbon Fiber Monopod Review4Tom Redd2012-10-18 17:32:28For low light shooting or when using a large lens, a tripod is generally your best bet but wildlife and sports photographers often will opt for a mono…
Build Quality
Handling
Value
Size and Weight
Photography Life Overall Rating

Avatar of Tom Redd About Tom Redd

Tom grew up in Texas, but the love of nature and the mountains lured him and his family to Colorado, where he and his wife raised their kids enjoying the beauty and activities that surround them. It is that beauty of both wildlife and landscape that made Tom want to capture and preserve these experiences thru photography. He became serious about photography in 2008 and continues to learn and refine his skills. Some of his photos can be found at 500px.

Comments

  1. Impressive looking little critter, nice that it’s so light too. Obviously good in the field. nice set of photos too :)

  2. Great timing as I am in the market for two more monopods for the family. I’d love to see a comparison between the Oben reviewed here and the two very similar Induro monopods also available at B&H:

    Model: Oben CTM 2500 Induro CM25 Induro AM25
    Material: 6X Carbon 8X Carbon Aluminum Alloy
    Weight: 470g/1.05lb 400g/.9lb 500g/1.1lb
    MaxLgth: 65″ 58″ 57.9″
    ClsdLgth: 439mm/17.3″ 430mm/16.9″ 407mm/16″
    LoadCap: 11.8kg/26lb 10kg/22lb. 10kg/22lb
    StreetPrice: $139.95 $110.00 $53.00

    • David, all 3 of those seem in the same ballpark, except the Induro AM25 – the aluminum monopod. Obviously, the cost for the aluminum is much less. The weight difference of all 3 is not that large a factor IMHO.

      The two things I would consider most:
      1. If you will use it in cold weather, aluminum is more uncomfortable to handle and personally, I would not buy it. I have an aluminum Manfrotto monopod and I always grab the carbon fiber monopod instead.
      2. The ease of use of the leg/section locks. If you don’t alter your shooting height much then this is less of a concern. The Oben is not as smooth as the Gitzo or my Jobu Designs but it is cheaper.

      I don’t have personal experience with the Induro so I can’t comment directly, but I have a friend that praises Induro products for their value.

      Thanks for your comments and for visiting the site, David. It would be nice to hear what you decide and how you like it.

  3. 5
    ) David

    The monopod looks great. I now have a Manfrotto carbon fiber, but his Oben appears to be lighter and smaller. Do you know if the Manfrotto 200PL plate (RC2 system) would fit on the Oben head? They look incredibly similar. Thanks

    • David, I do not know if the plate will fit on the Oben head, but if you like the Manfrotto Head, you could use it on the Oben monopod since the head and monopod are sold separately.

      I did try using the Manfrotto 200PL Plate in the Oben BB-2 Ball head (arca style clamp) and it was just a bit too wide and would not seat in the Oben head. I did not try it in the Oben VH-R2 head which is a different system – sorry I can’t answer that question fully.

      Thanks for visiting and the comment.

      • 7
        ) David

        Thanks Tom,
        I was thinking about the Manfrotto head on the Oben monopod. What is a bit puzzling to me is that the Manfrotto monopod head is rated at 6 lbs and the similar Oben head is rated at 11 lbs. Strange. But I have the Manfrotto head and several extra plates. David

        • David, I wish I had the Manfrotto PL200 plate here, I would go try it out for you. The reason I know it doesn’t work on the BB-2 Ball head is because I wanted to buy a plate locally and they had the PL200 so I tried it and when it didn’t fit, I didn’t buy it.

          I am not sure about the weight as to why the 5 lb difference but if you are using a large, heavy telephoto, I wouldn’t trust either head and would attach it directly to the monopod.

  4. I own and like the Induro CM24, which seems to be roughly equivalent to the Oben, and is currently priced by B&H at $122. It’s a four section monopod that extends to almost 62 inches, weighs in at just under a pound and supports 26 and a smidge pounds. It’s very sturdy and easy to extend and lock.

    My monopod rig is the photography version of the five dollar horse and fifty dollar saddle. That’s because I have the monopod fitted with the extravagantly pricey Really Right Stuff MH-02 Pro head. It’s currently $310. Plus it weighs a pound. But the beauty of the head, beyond the usual immaculate RRS fit and finish, is that it comes fitted with an indexing plate clamp that rotates 90 degrees. That means that when I mount the head to the plate on my camera, I can rotate the camera in an arc along the axis of the shot. Like with any monopod head. But when I need to move to the 70-200, I can rotate the head 90 degrees so that when I attach the lens foot to the monopod head, I can still achieve the on axis arc. It’s a handy luxury. I shoot quite a bit of rodeo and action sports and I do a lot of switching between long and short zooms, and it’s so much easier to balance a long zoom when the monopod is attached to the foot instead of the camera. The head also adds a couple inches of height to the rig, which I like cause I’m 6’2″. But again, it’s an expensive luxury.

    All that, plus with that brute of a head, my monopod can now multi-task as a competent club.

    • George, that is a nice set up! Really Right Stuff is REALLY GOOD STUFF! Thanks for your comments.

Leave a Comment

*