Tripod With Lateral Arm Advice

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by leslienicolephoto, Apr 28, 2020.

  1. Hey all, I do quite a bit of overhead photography. I need tripod set up advice. Primarily, I’m trying to figure out where to put my money to have a decent set up that is easy to use (emphasis on easy) and not too expensive (under $300. Under that even better).

    For now, I’ve cobbled together a system from things that I already have that works OK, but has inconveniences.

    I took my Benro MC-63n6 Monopod with a Really Right Stuff head and clamped it to my tripod with a Manfrotto Super Clamp. Tripod is a Bogen 3205 with a Bogen 3047 head. This is OK. Could be more stable. Takes time to get it level because the monopod and quick release plate are not easy to align.

    My biggest problem is that the Really Right Stuff quick release angle plate that I have was for a Canon 40D. It fits my 7D OK but on my 5D MKIII, it isn’t great. It can screw on, but it’s angled and slightly gauging the camera body. Also, difficult to put any cables at the side of the body.

    Here are my considerations / options - EG. Where do I put my money? Is this set up worth putting more money into it or starting fresh?
    • I could order a Really Right Stuff plate for the Canon 5D MKIII - but it will have to come from America (I live in France now) so with shipping it’s going to cost probably at least $70. The plate for the Canon 5D doesn’t have the angle, so it won’t be such a hassle either.
    • I could buy a different head for the monopod. Again, cost somewhere between $35 - $200 depending on head.
    • I could buy an actual tripod arm with head - again, cost over $100
    • I could buy one of these new tripods with the easy to use lateral arm like K&F Concept or Benro Go Plus.
    Thanks for your input.

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  2. SCL


    Take my advice with a grain of salt, as I don't know the weights involved. To me your tripod looks a little flimsy for firmly supporting the lateral forces. I personally would look to upgrade to a more substantial tripod and heavier clamping mechanism (I'd probably make one in my wood workshop). However, that would make the setup significantly heavier, which could cause a portability issue. Good luck in resolving this issue.
  3. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    You've not mentioned a working height, if this is for studio or field use, or whether your current tripod is at full height when you use it in this fashion - obviously the wider you can spread the legs, the greater will be the stability.

    This is somewhat old-school, but have you considered a Benbo (Benbo, not Benro) tripod - here's one I found earlier.

    Benbo 1 heavy duty tripod MINT- #36852 | eBay

    Legs and camera support column (not centre column, as it can be placed almost anywhere) can be used literally at any angle, with virtually unlimited adjustment. They weigh a ton, but are strong and sturdy as anything. There are also YouTube videos which demonstrate their capabilities. Take some getting used to, but may be less expensive than other options you have considered.
    leslienicolephoto likes this.
  4. AJG


    I would use a Manfrotto side arm that would attach directly to the tripod in place of the head and then attach your current 3047 head to one end of the side arm. I would also extend one leg behind the other two and drape a shot bag or two over it to counterbalance the weight of the camera and tripod head. This is a lot of weight for a Bogen/Manfrotto 3025 tripod, but it should do in a pinch. If you are doing this a lot (or for money) I would move up the scale on the tripod legs ( I use a Manfrotto 475) so that the set up could be more sturdy and rigid. The Manfrotto side arm is under $100 from B&H.
  5. leslienicolephoto,

    When in France do as the French, Buy a used aluminum Gitzo "Giant" tripod.
    It once was a French made tripod so perhaps there are some used versions available through a camera store in your area.
    It will provide very good stability.

    If your trying to get directly overhead and need height a heavy duty light stand and a boom for 200-300 Euros would be my choice.
    The setup you currently have does not look any more stable. The super clamp will fit naturally on the light stand.

    Good hunting.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2020
  6. To make use of your monopod head to tilt with I would turn the quick release plate 90 degrees on the monopod and then regain the orientation by turning the monopod 90 degrees back. Good luck.
    leslienicolephoto likes this.
  7. So, I would need to buy the arm and another head as well if I’m understanding this correctly? I’ve never used a side arm so I’m not sure how they attach to the tripod. I don’t want something that is complicated to switch.
  8. What about these tripods that are expressly made for versatility of macro / overhead shooting like K&F Concepts, Benro Go Plus, Zomei? I’m feeling very tempted buy one of those. They are made more for travel, but I have been seeing photographers with the same gear I have using them. I have to set up and break down every time I shoot, so ease of use is very appealing to me. They say they have a capacity of around 8 KG. My 5D MKIII & 24-70mm easily fall below that weight. Are there other considerations I’m missing? Maybe the sturdiness isn’t just about your equipment falling off but shake?
  9. I’m rarely using a tripod at full height. When I use it for overhead, it usually only has 1 leg extension or 1 1/2. I use a tripod for both field and studio, but my attention right now is studio use - overhead shooting. This is where I’m having problems with my current set up.

    Just looked at some YouTube videos on the Benbo. It’s intriguing. I like the long boom and that you can angle it in any way. I’m going to look into that more. I’m only seeing it shipping from England, so will need to find something with reasonable shipping costs. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!
    Tony Parsons likes this.
  10. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    A pleasure - just keep your fingers away the first couple of times you use it :D:)
    leslienicolephoto likes this.
  11. I've been reading and watching YouTube all day on different options. I'm considering getting the Manfrotto Side Arm, but I don't know how to get the head off my tripod! Anyone know how? IMG_0676.jpeg
  12. AJG


    If you raise the center column on your tripod you will find three small set screws under the mount for the head that need to be backed off. Once you do that the tripod head can be unscrewed. The side arm will screw on the same way and then you tighten the set screws to keep it from rotating. The side arm will also have the correct 3/8" thread to mount your tripod head.
    leslienicolephoto and Ed_Ingold like this.
  13. After removing your 3047 head, you need to install something like the Manfrotto 131D lateral side arm. It's designed to mount to the tripod, then mount a head on it. The one I have will support two heads. On eBay, there are several available, as well as at B&H.

    And I agree with others, the 3205 is really too light to provide proper support. You might try to find a used 475(B), which is really heavy duty.
    leslienicolephoto likes this.
  14. The correct RRS L-Plate will fit correctly and allow easy access to contacts on the side of the camera.

    Use a counterweight when holding a cantilevered load like this on a horizontal arm. I recommend something that clamps on rather than a shot bag. If the weight slips, it becomes the problem not the solution. Manfrotto makes several clamp-on weights for booms in stunning orange color. I use a 15 lb weight to balance a 9 foot boom pole I use on a large light stand for audio recording. When balanced, the load can extend well beyond the leg circle with perfect stability.

    The weight limit of a tripod is usually determined by the strength of its leg locking collars. Using a counterbalance increases the weight load, which must be considered.

    I have a Benbo tripod, and it is very easy to position a camera exactly where you need it, especially for closeups in nature. It takes both hands and one foot to hold the camera, arm and position the legs for stability. The downside is you have to go through the entire drill each time you use the tripod. You can't must open the legs and shoot as with an ordinary tripod. Nor do they fold very compactly, more like a military rocket launcher. Horses sharing the trails on nearby parks get very nervous when they see it, and often balk before passing by.
  15. Won't it be a hassle to take the Manfrotto sidearm off and on? Is it pretty easy to unmount / mount the side arm?
  16. +1 on the counterbalance recommended above. Cantilevered loads with no counterbalance are a recipe for vibration.

    I never thought about arms like this. I do a lot of stuff over the edge of tabletops, so it could be quite useful. As a DIY person, I'd probably do a simple rod with an end plate and fixed 1/4"x20 screw. Screw rod directly into camera. Then I'd do a simple block that mounts to the tripod and has a clamp for the rod. Not much to it. Counterbalanced, of course. The block could even have a QR interface on the bottom; OTOH, I'm too lazy and not all my 'pods have QR.
  17. Hey AJG, if you will allow me to pick your brain some more... I unscrewed the screws at the bottom, but I can't budge the head. If it is this difficult every time, there's no way I could change it regularly. Maybe it's just stuck from years of being on there? Do you know if it it's normally an easy thing to change? I've searched the internet and can't find anything showing this. Thank you!
  18. I just did a search and I'm not the only one that can't get the 3047 head off the tripod! Yikes that thing is like it's soldered on there. I've read numerous forum posts of people who can't get their 3047 heads off even when the screws are taken out.
  19. Tighten the pan screw on the head and use the handle as a lever. If that doesn't work, you can use a strap wrench on the base of the head, or clamp it in a padded vice and turn the tripod. The mount is metal to metal, and aluminum tends to corrode and seize with age.
    leslienicolephoto and AJG like this.
  20. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Once you've freed it, put a little grease on the thread of the column, and inside the socket of whichever head you mount. This should make it easier to swap them in the future.
    leslienicolephoto likes this.

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