Photography / Hands-on Review

16 Tripods that Are Not Really Tripods

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Most photographers think of tripods when the subject of camera supports is raised. While tripods fill the bill in most situations, there are plenty of scenarios in which traditional tripods don’t cut the mustard. The following are 20 camera supports designed to secure your camera in place when working in situations or locales in which traditional tripods fall short.

The Alladin Ball Head Clamp with ¼-20" screw is intended for use with Alladin 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 1/4-20" 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.

Kinesis Safarisack 4.2 Beanbag Camera Support

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 sportsman use beanbags as shooting platforms.

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 such a device. Featuring 3" polyurethane casters for smooth camera movements, the Digital Juice Orbit Dolly is machined from 0.5" black powder-coated aluminum stock, weighs 22 lb (9.9kg), 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 thread 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 to a pole, wall, countertop, or other surface manually 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 out of aluminum, weighs 2.15 lb, and has a handy 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, though 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 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

Matthews The Wedge Portable Camera Mounting Device is the Humvee of low-level POV camera supports. Triangular in shape 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 B&H carries, the Platypod Pro Deluxe Kit Camera Support, can handle camera systems weighing up to 90 lb when used with a sturdy ball or tripod head. Included are a trio of threaded legs for leveling the device along with ¼"-20 and 3/8"-16 threaded studs.

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.

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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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