I have tested the wide angle & telephoto brackets on my tripod with a 20-pound weight and there is literally no deflection of the bracket - this should work with most camera/lens combinations. (For reference, the camera shown in the photos is a Canon SX20 IS).
The design features I particularly wanted were:
a) flexibility - able to use with any of my cameras and lenses
b) strength - strong without excessive weight; strong enough for a DSLR and 300mm lens
c) multiple tightening knobs - to increase stability and prevent mishaps
d) low cost - keep cost reasonable but not at the expense of stability
e) balanced - minimize stress on the tripod heads
f) quick & easy to setup
g) must be able to use a lens hood
Step 1: Tools & Materials
- Hacksaw, metal cut-off saw, etc
- Drill and/or drill press, ¼” drill bit, spade bits
- Metal hand file
- Bench vise
|(1) aluminum (or steel) framing square||$ 6.47|
|(2) ¼ x ½ inch 20 TPI machine screws||$ 0.89|
|(2) ¼ x 1 inch carriage bolts and nuts||$ 0.08|
|(1) ¼ x 9/16 inch 20 TPI 3 prong T-nut||$ 0.38|
|(1) 4 x ¾ block of oak trim molding||$ 1.98|
|(5) ¼ bar knobs, 20 TPI (can substitute wing nuts)||$ 7.05 or $ 0.50|
|(7) ¼ flat washers||$ 0.14|
|$ 16.99 or $ 10.44|
I already had paint in my garage, so I did not include it in the costs. The basic tripod bracket will accommodate an entrance pupil distance from 0 to 70 mm (refer to http://wiki.panotools.org/Entrance_Pupil_Database ) This length will cover a large number of lenses.
I also wanted an additional camera support bracket to accommodate a longer telephoto lens, so in my case I used an additional framing square. Since the camera support brackets are interchangeable with the rest of the bracket the additional cost was only $ 6.47 more, which put me around $ 24 for my needs – considerably under the cost of the commercial units.
I thought about incorporating bubble levels, but decided to just use the existing bubble level on my tripod and a bubble level I already have for my camera hot shoe mount.
- All holes drilled in this project are ¼” (except for T-nut) and all machine screw and bolt threads are 20 TPI.
- All figures can be viewed in higher resolution by selecting the Info icon at the top left of the photo currently being displayed.
Feb 21, 2012 UPDATE: In the original design, I used a steel framing square because I was unsure of the strength of the aluminum and I was not sure that the aluminum would be able to tolerate a 90 degree bend without weakening the bend point too much. Today I decided to make a new camera support for my D7000 and a AF-S Zoom-Nikkor ED 18-200mm lens. Since this is a fairly heavy combination, I thought I'd try making a Panoramic Tripod Bracket with aluminum framing square to see it it could handle this weight . There was a standard version and a heavy-duty" version of framing square in aluminum - I decided to test with the standard version. I had no problems with the aluminum bend and it was easier to work with than the steel. The strength and durability are more than adequate - again, there was literally no deflection of the bracket. The size required for the D7000 & lens combination happens to be the same dimensions as the last telephoto version I made in steel, so I was able to compare of the weights of the metals equally. Here's what I found: The aluminum parts were a little less than half the weight of the steel. The end weights of the 9" Panoramic Tripod Brackets were 20 ounces for the steel version and 12 ounces for the aluminum version. Cost difference: aluminum framing square was 20 cents less than the steel. Bottom line: Use aluminum framing squares rather than steel framing squares because they are lighter and easier to work with.
Feb 25, 2012 Update: Today I added a “universal” “C” bracket modification (Step 7). The design modification allows many camera/lens combinations using just one bracket – from fish-eye lenses to zoom & telephoto lens, from Point & Shoot cameras with zoom lenses to DSLRs. It may not handle all of them, just a lot of them.