DIY Three Axis Camera Clamp




Introduction: DIY Three Axis Camera Clamp

About: I started taking things apart when I was 6 started putting them back together at 8 and they actually worked again when I was 10 or 11...

I am a photographer, videographer and general DIY guy. I own one of those flexible miniature tripods and love it. You can wrap the flexible legs around things and use it to clamp your camera to things for some great pictures. There are times when you just need a little more strength and the ability to feel safe about a camera mount. I have seen several methods for doing this and, as any good creative person will tell you, there is nothing like combining other ideas already out there. I worked a video shoot once where the camera man had a tripod head mounted on a piece of wood. He used a couple of C-clamps to mount it to a ladder for over head shooting. There is a great but simple monopod design using a 1/4-20 bolt and a three foot dowel someone has already done.  I needed to take pictures of a counter with the camera mounted to the cabinets and looking downward. You can't really get a tripod in there so the "Clamp" idea was born. Total cost is about $15 bucks, depending on what is in your hardware drawer,

Step 1: The Parts Needed

Time to head to the local Home Depot. I found a clamp that ratchets and will open to about 4 inches. It was also resin based and would be easy to drill a hole into. All the bolts are 1/4-20 which means 1/4 inch in diameter and 20 threads per inch. This is what all cameras from my Kodak easy share, Canon point-and-shoot, and DLSR's use. Here is what else you will need:
  • Several 1/4-20 eye bolt
  • One 3 1/2 inch 1/4-20 bolt
  • One shorter eye bolt
  • A couple 1/4-20 wing nuts
  • Bag of 20 1/4-20 nuts
  • Bag of 1/4" washers
  • 4 larger diameter washers
On the tool side, you will need a drill with a 5/32" drill bit (next size larger than 1/4") and a couple of wrenches.

Step 2: Assembly of the Clamp

Drill a hole large enough to fit the 1/4-20 bolt through. I drilled two but ended up using the front one only. Plus the washers did not fit into the other one!
  1. Insert the 3-1/2" both through the hole using a washer on each side
  2. Using one of the 1/4" nuts tighten the bolt down to the clamp
  3. Place the 3-1/2" eye bolt onto the first bolt. Attach it in the middle using hardware stacking as shown below.
    1. Nut
    2. 1/4" washer
    3. Larger washer
    4. Eye bolt
    5. Larger washer
    6. 1/4" washer
    7. Wing nut
  4. Repeat this with the smaller eye bolt mounting in the middle of the first eye bolt.

Step 3: Camera Mounting

Before mounting a camera to the Clamp, you need to thread a nut on to each of the three exposed bolts. This lets you screw on a camera, then tighten the nut up against the camera base to hod the camera in position. With three posible mounting points, the Clamp can be securely mounted and then the best mount for camera can be determined. 

Step 4: Using the Clamp

With three axis of movement the Clamp allows you to be very flexible in camera position and mounting. This example shows my Canon point and shoot clamped to my kitchen cabinet. Thanks to the soft rubber clamping surface, it is safe for most surfaces. 

To positon all you need to do is decide which is the best mounting point and then loosen the wing nuts and slide the bolts around. When you get the right position, just tighten everything down. This is great for time lapse photography too, as the clamp will hold its position. I did a time lapse with the flexible grip tripod a while back and had it slide about ten minutes into shooting.



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    11 years ago on Introduction

    Just built one of these. Extremely low amount of effort. Cheap. Works like a charm. Love it.



    12 years ago on Introduction

    Veerryy nice! I like the fact that your clamp ratchets, and opens up so wide.

    A couple of alterations I'd like to suggest would be swapping-out the nuts that tighten up to the camera for wing-nut, just to make them easier to work on (you'd have to watch for interference issues along your main eyebolt, though).

    My second suggestion is that a steel plate with holes about 6cm (2 1/2") apart could be bolted to either axis, to allow for taking rock-steady 3D pictures. You might need some bracing, depending on the weight of your camera(s), but that second hole you drilled in your clamp could come in useful there (I'd suggest allowing the 'plate' to rest on your brace, rather than trying to bolt it down).


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Great Ideas. I tried the wing nut on the camera side and it gets bulky. Plus I am afraid of over-tightening the nut facing the camera. Love the stereo idea. I need two identical camera's though. This will hold my Canon 7D too, which is great.



    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction


    Twin cameras was my first thought, but then I realised about the cost of the pair. Plus, my Fuji FinePix S8000fd is 4 1/4" wide - which wouldn't allow 2 to sit beside each other with the 2 1/2" usual standard.

    So I, personally, would need to take a pic., re-position the camera, and take the second. A bit of a pain, but do-able, as I don't really take action shots.

    Even so, I think I'd end up wanting a sliding mechanism (I know there's one on here somewhere)...Hmm..,

    I'm due a little bit of cash in the next couple of days, and since I know the dimensions of what you're working with (except the specific physical dimensions of your clamp), I may be able to come up with something, sometime soon...