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.
Step 2: Cut Framing Square Into Four Sections
Section “A” should be 10” long.
Sections “B” & “D” are not used.
Section “C”. The short, narrow portion should be cut to 4½”. This will be the portion of the bracket where the camera is mounted. The narrow 4½” portion allows the camera to be mounted offset to allow the use of a lens hood. The top portion of this section varies due to the length needed for the camera lens you’ll be using; my basic tripod bracket was 5 and 3/8 inches for my wife’s Canon SX20 IS (28mm lens). I also created a 9 inch one (“C2” in figure 4 of next step) for one of my longer telephoto lenses.
Step 3: Creating the Slots, Drilling and Bending
“A” section (bracket base). The slotted portion should be centered and 3” long, starting 1” from left edge. Drill the four remaining holes shown in figure 4. The holes indicated by the two yellow arrows should be 1” from the right edge and ¼” from the bottom & top edges; the two “extra” holes should be drilled leaving about a ¼ “ of material between the holes. These two “extra” holes are for the top and bottom rows of multi-row panorama photos. Finally, make a 90-degree bend 5½” from the right edge. This type of metal is meant to be hard & durable, so expect the bending to take a little time.
“C” section (camera support). The top portion of this section varies due to the length needed for the camera lens; the basic tripod bracket was 5 and 3/8 inches for the 28mm lens mentioned before. The slotted portion was centered and 3 and 3/8 inches long, starting 3/8 inch from left edge. The mounting hole for the camera depends upon the camera that will be attached to the bracket. The mounting hole for the camera may also need to be offset, so be sure to take this into consideration. I also created a 9” bracket (“C2”) for my longer telephoto lens (the slot started ¾“ from the edge and was 6¼“ long).
Step 4: Create the Tripod Mount
Step 5: Final Steps Before Use As Panoramic Tripod Bracket
The tripod mount is attached to the tripod in the normal manner using the tripod’s mounting screw.
The brackets are then attached to each other using two ¼” flat washers, two ¼” x ½” machine screws and two ¼ bar knobs (figures 7 & 8).
The brackets are then attached to the tripod mount using two ¼” flat washers and two ¼ bar knobs (figures 7 & 8).
And finally, the camera is attached using a ¼” male bar knob or a female with bolt through the center (figures 9 & 10). Figures 9 & 10 show the camera and bracket are "balanced" and can be used on or off a tripod - you could use on a table or just about any other flat surface.
Step 6: Macro Slider Function
Step 7: Universal Modification
|(1) aluminum framing square||$ 5.96|
|(2) ¼” x ¼” x 1” carriage bolts and nuts||$ 0.08|
|(4) ¼” x ¾” carriage bolts||$ 0.12|
|(1) ¼” x 9/16” 20-TPI 3-prong T-nut||$ 0.38|
|(1) 4” x ¾” block of oak trim molding||$ 1.98|
|(7) ¼” bar knobs, 20-TPI (or wing nuts)||$ 19.74 or $.70|
|(7) ¼” flat washers||$ 0.14|
|$ 28.40 or $9.36|
To create the tripod mount, refer to the previous step on how to create the tripod mount.
Section “A” should be 9 ½”. The slotted portion should be centered and 3¼”, starting ½” from left edge. Drill the six remaining holes shown. The holes indicated by the two yellow arrows should be 1” from the right edge and ¼” from the bottom & top edges; the “other” holes should be drilled leaving about a ¼ “ of material between the holes. The holes indicated by the yellow arrows are for a single row panorama photo; the rest of the holes are for additional rows of photos in multiple-row panoramas. Finally, make a 90-degree bend 5½” from the right edge. This type of aluminum is meant to be hard & durable, so expect the bend to take a little time. (Note: When painting, put tape on one of the ruler edges so that you can use the marks for recording the positions of various cameras.)
Section “B” should be 10½”. The slotted portion should be centered and should start and stop 3/8” from both ends. (Note: When painting, put tape on one of the ruler edges so that you can use the marks for recording the positions of various camera/lens combinations.)
Section “C”. This will be the camera mounting bracket. The short, narrow portion should be cut to 5¼” and the wide portion should be 4”. The narrow 5¼” portion allows the camera to be mounted offset to allow the use of a lens hood. The top portion will allow adjustment for different types of lenses. On the narrow 5¼” portion, the slotted portion should start just above the hole already in the metal and extend upward until it reaches the internal corner of the framing square. On the wide portion drill two ¼” holes starting ¼” from the left edge and another set 1½” from the left edge. Combine each of the two holes by removing the metal between the holes you drilled (see photos); I used a 3/16” chainsaw sharpening bit in my Dremel tool. The two elongated holes allow us to use carriage bolts instead of machine screws – these can be tightened easier.
“D” excess, not used.
If you paint everything except those areas mentioned in sections “A” & “B”, you’ll be able to create yourself an entrance pupil distance chart for the camera/lens combinations you use later. This will save you the trouble of recreating the next time you use that combination “in-the-field”.
Refer to the above photos for assembly and use. The following weights are included for reference.
|universal panoramic tripod bracket||15|
|D7000 and a AF-S Zoom-Nikkor ED 18-200mm lens||52|
|Canon SX20 IS||26|