Tripod Stabilizer Weight Hook





Introduction: Tripod Stabilizer Weight Hook

This Instructable is as much of a technique as a DIY project. The idea is straightforward; if you add weight to your tripod it will be more stable. By installing a hook from the center column of your tripod, you can hang whatever weight you happen to have with you, be it your camera bag, backpack or maybe even a water bottle or two. You don't necessarily need a hook-you could definitely improvise something else like tying a small rope around part of the tripod- but it is much more convenient so you'll end up using it more often.

Step 1: Disassemble Tripod and Get the Necessary Parts

First up, if possible, remove the center column from your tripod (you may need to also remove an end cap from the center column as well). This will make it easier to select the proper hardware and to drill the appropriate holes later. Speaking of hardware, you'll want to get a bolt and nut which is wide enough to go through the center column. An S hook which is about one inch wide and two inches long will closed and hung from the bolt on one end, so make sure it is small enough that one end (when closed shut) can fit inside of the center column.

More succinctly,
  1. Remove the end cap from the center column if necessary
  2. Remove center column from tripod
  3. Get an S hook which can fit in the center column when closed
  4. Get a bolt which is wide enough to go through the center column

Step 2: Assemble Tripod Hook

First you will need to close one end of the S hook. I did this with a hammer, but it may be easier to do with a large vise. It will need to be closed enough that it will fit in the center column, but still open enough to allow the bolt to go through the center.

Next, drill a hole through center column 1/4 to1/2in from the bottom. Go ahead and replace the center column in the tripod. Put the closed end of the hook in the bottom of the column, thread the bolt through the hook end  and tighten the nut on the opposite side to secure it. Don't tighten the nut too much however, as this may deform the column, making it difficult to remove it later.

If there was an end cap on the center column, it will no longer be needed as the bolt  head and nut will prevent the column from accidentally falling out of the tripod.

Step 3: How to Use Your Newly Improved Tripod

This last step is easy- whenever you pull out your tripod for a shot, simply hang something heavy that you happen to have on the hook. I've been using a 5lb lifting weight when doing some night shoots in the backyard, but if your out on a shoot, a backpack or camera bag would probably work just as well. The extra weight will make your tripod much more stable, allowing you to take razor sharp images, even if you are doing long exposures!

One more tip for DSLR users out there- every time you take a shot, there are two big sources of vibration/shake. The first is you pressing the shutter button. By using a remote shutter or setting a short timer (I use 2 seconds), you can prevent the motion of pressing the shutter from jarring your shot. The second source is from the mirror flipping up. Each time you take a shot the mirror which usually redirects the light from the lens up into the viewfinder is flipped up out of the way to allow the light from the lens to hit the sensor. To prevent this source of vibration, there is often a setting on your DSLR called mirror lock-up (or on my Olympus, more cryptically, anti-shake). This setting can flip the mirror up a couple seconds or so before the camera starts acquiring a shot, allowing the vibration to subside before taking the shot.



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    Great idea, but I don't get it. It's definitely not a new idea. The manufacturers of tripods have, for many years, provided hooks on the lower ends of the center poles for the expressed purpose of using them to hang a variety of weighty things for the expressed purpose of stabilizing the tripod and it's mounted camera. This Instructable is, in the interest of being " positive" terms, an excellent display of an old, well known, and commonly used idea!
    Would it thus be appropriate for me to make an Instructable on how to make ice cubes using those handy compartmentalizes trays one find in some refrigerators?

    6 replies

    Maybe just maybe all the people who read this aren't professional photographers and may never have seen this.

    Like Me!

    I, for one, have never seen a weighted tripod, although I have used tripods at work. As someone who has never seen this before now, I think it is absolutely brilliant.

    yep. first time i ever seen it, too. thanks andre! good job!

    You're totally right- this is not a new idea. In fact, I got the idea to add this feature to my tripod after having seen it on professional tripods. While this mod may be obvious to you, I hope it helps others who are unfamiliar with tripod hooks and who don't already have one built into their tripod.

    Great idea, I would have missed it if you hadn't posted it. I will use this to stabilize my shaky telescope tripod.

    Carrying extra weight around is a pain and usually not necessary. Just step on the cord you hang your weight off of and you'll have 100+ lbs snugging everything down without having to lug your weight set around with you.

    As you probably know most of the pro tripods have a weight hook as manufactured or as an add on extra.
    I used to carry an empty sand bag and fill it up with rocks, dirt or sand on location to save lugging a weight. Then I carried a plastic water bottle but I found it less satisfactory.
    Then I hit on the idea of a 'screw in' nylon tent peg and a few very large rubber bands; weighs virtually nothing and yet it holds the tripod rock steady in all sorts of winds. Out on a pier a cup hook is a handy substitute for the tent peg.

    3 replies

    The idea of weights is OK for heavy, studio-style tripods, but generally unworkable for the Sunpak Compact SXL lightweight aluminum tripod I carry while hiking. Such tripods have no threaded fitting at the bottom of the center column, and the legs would collapse if more than 10 to 15 pounds in weight is placed on them. The idea of using a small bungee or rubber bands to secure the tripod to a hook or stake in the ground during windy conditions is a good idea, though.

    Yes the Sunpak Compact SXL is nice and light but only can handle a load of 3.3lbs. Even with a small camera you do not have much left for a stabilising force. With the rubber band idea you are still putting an additional load on the tripod. I suggest you look at ways of holding the legs down right where they meet the ground. Perhaps 3 little tent pegs? I have seen some photographers rest sand bags against the bottom of tripod legs. Seems an inconvenience to me though to carry or fill 3 sandbags insitu. The other trick is to put your pack in the middle of the 3 legs and wedge or tie the legs against the pack.

    Thats a really awesome idea, I'll have to try it out! The swinging of the weights could definitely be a problem for my design if theres a lot of wind.

    This may sound daft, but on an an extended length shoot when the shutter is going to be open for a very long time I usually put a bucket of water under the tripod so the weight (in my case an old 5Kg kitchen scale weight) is in the water. This acts to damp out any tendency for the weight to swing if there is any wind. Of course you can't always have a bucket of water to hand but I do in my garden ;-)

    1 reply

    That sounds good to me! The more weight the merrier!

    If I'm in the field, I'll hang my ridiculously heavy camera bag over the tripod. In the studio, I use 2-liter soda bottles filled with water, with a paracord loop around the neck, to stabilize my light stands.

    Even better than a hanging (swinging) weight is to attach weights to the bottoms of the legs, to bring the center of gravity as low and wide as possible. I have old barbell weights (like in the photo) that I slide onto each leg, and use cord tied at the top of the legs to keep them off of the ground. I've also seen tire tube sections, filled with sand, slung between the legs.

    Totally Brilliant! Thank you!

    Now this is something I can use right now. Thank you!