I'm not even sure what to look for. I'm wondering if there are any mounts that will clamp to edge of bridge railing or pier railing to hold the camera steady. Sometimes I'd like to shoot from the very edge and I can't always get the tripod to the absolute edge to avoid getting the railing in the picture when shooting wide. Any ideas? Thanks.
If you don't mind throwing a LOT of money at this problem, take a look at RRS's "Safari" system. It also may give you some ideas for a more economical solution.
I've never seen one, but I suspect it is built to typical RRS standards and will, in principle, hold up just about anything, mainly because it relies on a monopod to support the weight. The clamp simply steadies it more than you can while hand holding a monopod against a pier or bridge railing.
And it seems to me that clamping a monopod to the railing makes far more sense than trying to clamp the camera directly to the rail. And certainly "safer", to the extent that any given clamp might not hold well with any particular railing.
I'm not at all familiar with the Manfrotto system already mentioned, at a much easier price point. My own point of research would be the material construction, durability, and ability to hold weight. And my concerns about relying on a clamp to bear the weight, of course.
An even simpler system would use a monopod under the tripod, and then perhaps something like bungee cords to hold it in place. Or maybe some sort of double ended clamp, one side gripping the monopod and the other gripping the rail, which is basically the RRS idea. The utility would depend on the shutter speeds. Might work at 1/30s but not well at 2s for example.
If you do use a clamp without monopod, it might be a good idea to fashion some sort of "safety rope" between the camera strap eyelet or some other part of the camera, and the railing. The idea of a clamp slipping, and the camera falling off a pier or bridge is not appealing
Just another thought... I've had good success getting a tripod up fairly close to a railing, enough for wide angle shots, simply by extending the rearward facing leg. Maybe not all the way to full vertical but "good enough" for the shots I've done.
It's not ideal, but when I run into these situations I usually don't have all my toys with me anyway, including bulky things like clamps. And ultra-wide angles don't demand the same level of stability as long lenses.
A couple of bungee cords, fixing the legs or mount/head to the railing, would go a long way to keeping the tripod in place. At worst still more stable than trying to do that with a monopod.
Neil, An advantage of the Magic Arm is that it can overhang by up to about two feet from a railing - provided that there is something no more than about 1.5ins for it to be clamped on. It's pretty sturdy really - but I also like your idea of using a safety strap of some sort. I'm not too sure that I'd rely solely on the arm if it were clamped to, for example, the rail of a pitching boat!!!
BTW, I regularly use the arm to hold a 7in HD monitor while shooting video. I clamp it to a leg of my Gitzo Series 5 that has a leveler and fluid head. It's absolutely grrrrreat for this job!
I hear ya . And I see some benefits to it, like the overhang. But especially when working over deep water I have a peculiar aversion to clamping $5K and up to a railing.
I admit that could be misplaced worry. And especially admit I might feel differently after working with it.
I also don't think I would generally carry around that much bulk and weight (in addition to a tripod) for something I wouldn't use very often. But that is based on my personal way of doing things and what I shoot.
If I were specifically planning a shot from that bridge or pier then the bulk and weight would not be an issue. I'm mainly trying to solve spur of the moment opportunities with as little added carrying weight and bulk as possible. I could more readily see carrying a small bungee cord or two.
I just like the idea of a monopod or tripod bearing the weight, in situations where it can be made to work. All very personal but that is why different opinions are so important here.
Neil, Don't get me wrong - I completely agree with you, but was offering an alternative.
The Magic Arm is a little springy when outstretched and loaded with a D800 having even a 24-70/2.8 mounted whereas the monopod approach would be far more stable at the cost of less versatility. However, if the MA doesn't need to be outstretched, it is very solid indeed.
Horses for courses!
Thank you for the MANY things I have learned from your posts over the years!
Fri 07-Jun-13 02:30 PM | edited Fri 07-Jun-13 02:32 PM by Chris Platt
The manfrotto super clamps (which are a component of the magic arm noted above) can be very handy. They are very sturdy, will clamp solidly to any reliable item that will fit between their jaws, and you can mount a ball head on them. I've used them on fence rails, ladders, and even on the side of a tripod leg.
Thanks for all the comments. The magic arm seems interesting and looks like it would work for most railing. I googled it and found one guy attaching it to his kid's tricycle for point of view shots which looks like something I would like to try. Maybe with my d80 and not d800