20 Tripods That Are Not Really Tripods

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Tripods are usually the first things that come to mind when we think “camera support.” The truth is there are numerous scenarios in which traditional tripods don’t cut the mustard. The following is a list of more than 20 camera supports designed to support cameras in situations where traditional tripods fall short.

The Aladdin Ball Head Clamp with ¼"-20 screw is intended for use with Aladdin Eyelite, A-Lite, and Bi-Flex1 LED lighting fixtures but, truth be told, you can just as easily mount a small to mid-range camera on the clamp’s ball head (included). The unit’s A-clamp design enables you to mount your camera on poles, fences, beams, and railings.

Aladdin Ball Head Clamp with ¼"-20 Screw

Would you believe B&H stocks more than 50 styles of beanbags from 10 companies? No joke. We have beanbags from Apex, Kinesis, The Pod, LensCoat, Naturescapes, Novoflex, Visual Departures, Photoseiki, Tamrac, and The Vest Guy.

Beanbags

Beanbags enable you to cradle your camera and lens on almost any surface, regardless of how smooth, rough, or downright gnarly it might be. Beanbags stow away easily and are light enough to pack along on hiking trips. It’s worth noting that many hunters and sportsmen use beanbags as shooting platforms.

Though intended for use with Kenisis Safarisacks, Kenisis Poly Beads and an environmentally-friendlier counterpart—Kenisis Buckwheat Hulls—are available at B&H for replenishing the contents of most resealable beanbag camera supports.

Kinesis Buckwheat Hulls for SafariSack

Ever wish you had a doodad that would enable you to shoot 360-degree radial or straight-line video or time-lapse photography with or without a tripod? The Digital Juice Orbit Dolly is just such a device. Featuring 3" polyurethane casters for smooth camera movements, the 22 lb (9.9kg) Digital Juice Orbit Dolly is machined from 0.5" black powder-coated aluminum stock, and can support camera systems weighing up to 300 lb (136 kg). Camera movements can be captured from ground level, or attach a tripod for shooting at higher points of view.

Digital Juice Orbit Dolly

The Dinkum Systems ActionPod PRO (10") is an A-clamp style camera support capable of supporting upright loads of up to 4 lb (or 2-lb lateral loads). What makes the ActionPod Pro different from other A-clamp style supports is a flexible 7-link gooseneck arm with a ¼"-20 threads on the end for your camera. Mountable onto surfaces up to 2" thick, the arm on the Dinkum Systems ActionPod Pro can be extended by adding additional ¾" links to its standard 10" arm.

Dinkum Systems ActionPod PRO

HandlePod's Camera Handle / Tabletop Quadpod is a simple device that enables you to secure your camera manually to a pole, wall, countertop, or other surface by either holding or lashing it in place using the included elastic cord.

HandlePod Camera Handle / Tabletop Quadpod

Screw a small ball head onto an Impact Super Clamp with T-Handle and you have a camera support you can clamp onto a railing, post, 2 x 4, branch, handlebar, or anything else less than 2" thick. Ideal for supporting camera/lens combinations weighing up to 33 lb, the Impact Super Clamp features a push-release 5/8" hexagonal female receiver, ¼"-20 threads, and a 5/8" hex-based Baby Stud with ¼"-20 male threads.

Impact Super Clamp with T-Handle

Add a set of adjustable, heavy-duty jaws to an Impact Super clamp and you get an Impact CC-125 Adjustable Gaffer Clamp. Featuring dual baby 5/8" studs and rubber-coated protective jaws that can be adjusted from 0.98 to 2.55", Impact’s CC-125 can be easily adapted to accept a tripod or ball head for supporting a mid- to heavier-weight camera/lens system (or lights) to just about anything you can wrap its jaws around.

Impact CC-125 Adjustable Gaffer Clamp

Jobu Design’s Table Top Pod sort of resembles a superhero logo (“X” Man maybe?) with stubby rubber legs and a 3/8"-16 threaded stud at its center. Superhero remarks aside, it’s rather slick-looking. Made of CNC-machined aluminum and measuring 8 x 4", add a ball head and the Table Top Pod can firmly support a camera and lens at just above ground level or other smooth, level surface.

Jobu Design Table Top Pod

If Jobu Designs Table Top Pod strikes your fancy but you’d prefer something with a larger footprint, Kirk’s Low Pod Camera Support (Black) should be of interest to you. Measuring 13.5 x 10.5" and featuring a threaded 3/8" stud for mounting your favorite ball head, the Kirk Low Pod is made of aluminum, weighs 2.15 lb, and has a convenient handle that makes you want to take it with you everywhere you go.

Kirk Low Pod Camera Support

The Kupo Large Gaffer Grip (Black Finish) looks like an Impact CC-125 with attitude. Aggressively styled and machined out of steel, Kupo’s Large Gaffer Grip has a variable-tension jaw that can grab onto round or flat surfaces up to 3.15" thick.

Kupo Large Gaffer Grip

I’ve been traveling with the same Leica Tabletop Tripod with Folding Legs (1/4" Screw) for 30-plus years and, scuffed as it may be, it’s as tight and tough as it was the day I bought it. Made of machined aluminum, the legs on Leica’s Table Tripod are infinitely adjustable, and it can be used effectively as a chest-pod when need be. For an extra measure of stability, the base of the tripod is integrated into the top leg section. Equally able Leica ball heads are also available for Leica’s Table Tripods, although any small ¼" threaded ball head will do.

Leica Ball Head 18

You can cut your location kit shopping list in half by ordering the Manfrotto Super Clamp with 056 3-D Junior Head, a clamp-and-head match made in heaven if there ever was one. A handy combo that’s easy to stow away when traveling, there’s little excuse to not have one with you when shooting on location.

Manfrotto Super Clamp with 056 3-D Junior Head

Though advertised as a device for permanently mounting a surveillance camera on a ledge, shelf, or other flat surface, the Manfrotto 355 Table Mount Camera Support with 234 Tilt Head can prove equally handy when you need to create a temporary makeshift camera support when shooting on location, or even in the studio, for that matter. The flat surface of the Manfrotto 355 features three machined holes for threaded mounting screws. A Manfrotto 234 Tilt Head is included.

Manfrotto 355 Table Mount Camera Support with 234 Tilt Head

If you’re looking for a really tiny camera support, take a look at the Manfrotto Large Pocket Tripod—such a handy little device. Even though the word “large” is in the name, it can be slipped into your pocket easily when folded up.

Manfrotto Large POCKET Tripod

Somewhat similar in design is the Magnus ShearPod Compact tripod, which folds up like a pair of shears when not in use. For smaller cameras, these small folding tripods are no-brainers for traveling and photo outings.

Magnus ShearPod Compact Tripod

If you ever need to mount a camera on the hood, fender, bumper, or windshield of a car, boat, or airplane, you’re going to want a Delkin Fat Gecko. Available in single, double, and triple suction-cup configurations, Fat Geckos are the tools of choice among shooters who regularly place their cameras in precarious situations.

Fat Gecko

The Alan Gordon Enterprises DV Super Grip is another fine contender among suction-cup supports. Featuring a 6" diameter, the Alan Gordon DV Super Grip comes with a pan-tilt head that will support up to 11 lb of camera gear.

Alan Gordon Enterprises DV Super Grip

If you’re looking for an interesting variation on suction-mount devices, take a look at the Digital Juice Suction Mount Series Articulating Arm, which features a 10" articulated arm with three pivot points and a ¼" thread that can support up to 5 lb. If you need a support that will squeeze your camera into a tight spot, this puppy just might be what the doctor ordered.

Digital Juice Suction Mount Series Articulating Arm

The Vidpro TT-4 4" Tablepod & Handgrip is a compact, dual-purpose camera support that, as its name implies, doubles as a tabletop tripod as well as a pistol-grip camera support, complete with a wrist strap. When not in use, the Vidpro TT-4 4" folds up for easy storage in your pocket or camera bag.

Vidpro TT-4 4" Tabletop Tripod & Handgrip

Novoflex has long been a heavy hitter when it comes to quality camera accessories, and the Novoflex Suction Cup with Ball Head is no exception to the rule. Designed for mounting cameras onto flat surfaces, i.e., walls, floors, windows, etcetera, the Novoflex Suction Cup with Ball Head features a ¼" thread and will support up to 6.6 lb.

Novoflex Suction Cup With Ball Head

Matthews The Wedge Portable Camera Mounting Device is the Humvee of low-level POV camera supports. Triangular, with 11" flanks, and about 1/3" thick, the black-finished, 6061-T6 aluminum Wedge comes with three adjustable legs with floating, self-leveling feet. The Wedge features a half-dozen each of ¼"-20 and 3/8" holes (tapped and untapped) for adding accessories and tie-downs for securing your rig to wherever you are mounting it. There are also four centrally located riser holes for accommodating a 100mm fluid head bowl.

Matthews The Wedge Portable Camera Mounting Device

If you’ve ever had to use a long lens in places where tripods and monopods are forbidden or simply not practical, you’re the person they had in mind when they designed the Novoflex Chestpod / Shoulder Pod. Fully adjustable for a proper fit, the Novoflex Chest/Shoulder Pod features a rubberized base you tuck in just under your sternum, and a quick-release system for easy mounting and removal of your camera and lens. The three-point stance afforded by shooting in this manner with longer telephoto lenses greatly reduces the effects of camera shake.

Novoflex Chestpod / Shoulder Pod

One of the more popular ground-level POV camera supports that B&H carries is the Platypod Ultra Camera Support Kit, which can support camera systems weighing up to 100 lb. Additionally, the heavier-duty Max Camera Support is available with or without an Oben BE-117 Ball Head, to support camera systems weighing up to 300 lb when matched to an appropriate tripod head.

Platypod Pro Deluxe Kit Camera Support

Do you have a favorite alternate camera support that’s not a tripod? Tell us about it in the Comments section, below.

7 Comments

Another category of supports is the gunstock type, e.g. the Stedi-stock 2.  I use this with both my macro rig and my bird-telephoto rig.  It gives you a big improvement in stability over straight handholding, with very little if any diminution of photographer mobility.  If you take several deep breaths before clicking the shutter, the breathing instinct is stilled for a few seconds, making the photographer into a 2-legged "bipod," if you will.  This is similar to the tricks target rifle shooters use in their similar application of aiming at very small targets (the bullseye) at range.

What tripod is shown on the first photo where the Canon DSLR is sitting on the top of the car?

Hi Anderson - 

 The Deluxe Kit with Oben BD-0 Mini Ball Head is a B&H Kit that features a Platypod Deluxe camera support paired with an Oben BD-0 Mini Ball Head. Featuring an anodized-aluminum construction with stainless-steel components, the kit can support up to 6.6 lb, while weighing an ultra-portable 5 oz.

Wow!  Great article.   I personally have always used a Joby Gorillapod for traveling; as it is light weight and compact.   It works great for low shots, as well as a shoulder rig or stabelizer if you position it correctly.  I definetly reccomend it :)

-Landon

I looking for a support system that will allow macro photography at ground level that supports my Canon New F-1 and Auto Bellows.

Any recommendations?

Ralph,

You caught me off guard - When I saw your name I expected at least a half dozen additional suggestions from you but instead I got a question! Awesome! No problem.

Thumb back through my article and take a look at the Platypod Pro, the Wedge from Matthews, the Kirk Low Pod, the Jobo Design Table Top Pod, or perhaps one of the gazillian bean bags we sell at B&H.

One of these products will do the job... and don't forget a cable release or a remote!

Till next time my friend!

AW

Hi Ralph,
I sometimes suspend my macro rig right down to ground level below my tripod by inverting the centre post.
There are many cages that alow attachment of the camera or lens from above rather than below.
If your lens / bellows has a rotatable collet, swing it 180deg and attach that to the inverted tripod head.

Walter

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