Not to be confused with the ninja swooping crane camera setup, build this handy adapter to use your own tripod as a camera copy stand. When photographing things that must be laid flat like *junk*/ stuff you need to pawn off on eb@y, you want to get a good macro shot. Also, if you want to shoot a video from an overhead view like for the previous Forbes video contest www.instructables.com/id/How-to-get-a-chuckle-out-of-a-Brit/ (How to get a chuckle out of a Brit), use this if you do not have the slanted overhead mirror studio setup. (I had neither so you can see the off angle indie point of view that it was filmed.)
Many tripods do have a full tilting head mount and if you have the tripod that came as a freebie with the purchase of the camera like I do, even at maximum tilt, the camera tripod legs are still in the field of view. Trying to manipulate the camera on the tripod and adjust the legs against the table containing the object to be photographed can be precarious. I did not have an old photographic enlarger to hack nor did I want to spend $$$ on something I would only use once in a while.
What you need is a short boom to extend the camera out over the tripod so you can easily set up the shot with a stable tripod and not have the tripod legs in the field of view. Yes, you can make your own handy dandy not seen on TV, Yokozuna Ninja Booming Grip of Righteousness.
Below are some shots of problems with a copy setup with just a tripod, a freehand shot, and one taken with the copy stand adapter.
Oh, any references to instructables member www.instructables.com/member/yokozuna/ (yokozuna) are purely for publicity, he would like to be seen more often but the whole ninja thing makes him invisible.
Step 1: That's Plain Nuts, and More...
Disclaimer: This project involves some basic metalworking and associated power tools. Use caution as metal can be sharp and and leaves tiny little shards that are no good for walking on with barefeet.
Also, you risk injury to your camera if the camera tripod is not stable and tripod legs are not fully extended and locked for use.
You need to take trip to the hardware store unless you have bits and pieces of aluminum or metal stock laying around along with an assortment of nuts and bolts.
The tripod mounting screw on most cameras is standard 1/4inch machine screw size so it should be easy to get the nuts and bolts for this project. As always, gently test fit to make sure your camera can accept the bolt.
Stuff you need:
1/4 inch by 1 1/2 inch long machine bolts, washers and nuts
2 L-shaped deck reinforcement plates (Simpson strong-tie hurricane/deck plates)
(you could do with regular angle brackets)
1/8" thick x 3/4" wide piece of aluminum stock about 12 inches long
I had a piece of aluminum strip stock that seems stiff enough to support the camera and resists flex and bounce but you can use "L" shaped angle stock for a stiffer bracket or you could even subsitute 3 wood paint stirrer sticks glued together.
pop-rivet gun with small rivets
Drill with metal drilling bits (1/4inch for the bolt holes, 1/8inch for the rivets)
A drill press would be handy but you can just use a cordless power drill. Place a piece of scrap wood under the metal when drilling and always secure the metal being drilled.
Use a bit of emery paper or a small file to deburr the drilled hole.
Step 2: The Business End...
Let's make the camera mounting first.
The camera end will be able to rotate and locked in position with a wingnut that attaches the L shaped bracket mount to the boom arm.
The deck reinforcement plate comes with predrilled nailer holes. Use the wider flange as the base of the camera mount.
Pick one of the existing holes to use as the pivot point for the camera bracket.
Position the plate on the end of the boom arm and mark where the hole needs to be drilled for the 1/4 inch bolt that passes through. Simulate the rotation so that when the camera is attached, the boom arm end will not snag on the camera.
Pick one of the existing holes on the vertical flange to enlarge to fit a 1/4inch bolt.
Drill marked holes and deburr.
Attach the base so it can pivot with a wing nut and bolt. I tried this with a lock washer and found that it was not necessary to keep the position locked in.
The camera is attached with just a 1/4inch bolt that is screwed in from the back first. Then use the wingnut to snug it up to the plate. Don't play with your nuts too much as you might damage the threads in the camera. Not necessary, but you can add some foam tape or piece of rubber to the plate to cushion the camera and protect its finish.
Step 3: Hold On...
My tripod has a quick release(QR) mount with a separate camera mounting plate.
I took the QR mounting plate out to measure where I needed to drill the hole for the mounting plate screw.
One of the existing holes in the reinforcement plate fit the index pin on the QR mounting plate so I just had to drill one new hole. Make sure you have the QR plate positioned as it will be in the tripod so that the boom arm will be oriented correctly.
Drill the hole and attach the plate to the QR plate with a wingnut.
Time to do a dry fit of it on the tripod.
Step 4: If the Shoe Fits...
With the camera attached, position the boom arm on the base plate so we can mark what length we want the boom arm to be attached at.
Test fit the camera. Look through the viewfinder or display to see how far out the camera must be extended so that the tripod legs will be out of view.
Find the best position where the tripod legs are out of the field of view of the camera. Mark that position.
Also note if this is where the setup is still stable. Depending on the weight of the camera, you do not want the setup to be easy to tip over on its own. You can add a heavy weight to stabilize the tripod, but that would involve more work.
You could also have a set of holes to make this more versatile than it already is if you want to really adjust the length of the boom arm for each situation. Use nuts and bolts instead of the permanent rivets that I use.
Mark the length of the boom arm. Remove the assembly to drill two holes near the ends of the mounting plate to install the rivets.
I put the rivets in from the bottom so that the rivet bulge does not interfere with the the QR mounting plate.
Step 5: Lights, Camera, Action!
Using the tripod also gives you a handy place to clamp on some lights, which obviously I do not have. It may be good to use a remote shutter cable or set the camera to shoot on a timer so you don't shake the tripod as you take the shot.
There you have it, the Yokozuna Ninja Booming Grip of Righteousness. And suddenly out of nowhere, you are taking professional pictures. Use it wisely.