Manfrotto Super Clamp: More than a Tripod Alternative

Manfrotto Super Clamp: More than a Tripod Alternative

As a cityscape enthusiast photographer primarily shooting long exposures at blue hour (twilight and dusk), tripods are something I can’t live without. That said, we occasionally come across places where a full-size tripod is prohibited or there is no appropriate space to set one up.

In such situations, I used to rely on a mini tripod like Gorillapod (I own the “5K Stand”, their top end model with a load capacity of 5kg). However, mini tripods are a bit shaky and don’t always hold the camera weight too well. This is especially problematic when using it for long exposures, where the images end up with somewhat “soft” (i.e., not sharp enough).

How to set the Super Clamp up

LEFT: Plug a camera mounting platform adapter into a Super Clamp socket and secure it with a double-lock system. RIGHT: Mount a tripod head with the camera on the mounting platform adapter, just like you do with your regular tripod.

This is where a clamp tripod like Manfrotto Super Clamp comes in very handy. I own the Manfrotto 035 Super Clamp without the Stud and use it with the separately-sold Manfrotto 208HEX 3/8-Inch Camera Mounting Platform Adapter, as described below.

Avoid standard stud

By the way, Manfrotto also has a Super Clamp that comes with a so-called standard stud (Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp with 2908 Standard Stud), but I recommend avoiding it because the standard stud is a bit too long. Thus, the tripod head sits about an inch out of the clamp, making the setup vulnerable for heavier camera/lens combos.

Besides, the standard stud only comes with 1/4″ screw. If your tripod head uses 3/8″ screw (most tripod heads do), you’ll need a screw adapter to convert 1/4″ screw into 3/8″ in order to screw your tripod head in.

LEFT: The Super Clamp with the standard stud inserted (a silver screw adapter is attached to convert the default 1/4″ screw into 3/8″). RIGHT: Due to the standard stud being too long, a tripod head doesn’t sit flush with the Super Clamp, leaving the camera setup rather unstable.

Reversible Short Stud

Therefore, I recommend photographers get the aforementioned Manfrotto 208HEX 3/8-Inch Camera Mounting Platform Adapter, or opt for Manfrotto 037 Reversible Short Stud (cheaper alternative). In fact, this reversible short stud is handy as it comes with both 1/4″ and 3/8″ screws. Like the mounting platform adapter, this short stud also allows a tripod head to sit flush with the Super Clamp, giving much better stability to mount a camera.

LEFT: The reversible short stud comes with both 3/8″ (top) and 1/4″ (bottom) screws. RIGHT: The reversible short stud fits perfectly into the Super Clamp (3/8″ screw on top).

With the short stud used, a tripod head sits flush with the Super Clamp. This setup can be as strong as the Super Clamp + Manfrotto 208HEX 3/8-Inch Camera Mounting Platform Adapter mentioned earlier.

Super Clamp in action

Note that a clamp tripod cannot be used anywhere you like, as it needs a rail or something similiar to be clamped onto. However, where possible, this setup is rock solid (with a load capacity of whopping 15kg), and the resulting long exposure photos are appreciably sharper than those photographed using a mini tripod or even a regular tripod.

Clamping onto a road railing.

Here we have clamping onto a thick tempered glass (clamping from the top).

You can also clamp onto things like a footbridge railing (by using short stud, instead of camera mounting platform adapter).

In addition, a clamp tripod also comes in handy at crowded photography spots that attract a lot of tourists. Setting a regular tripod up at such locations takes space on the ground and always has a risk of someone accidentally kicking tripod legs. It’ll be a catastrophe if that happens in the midst of a long exposure. With a clamp tripod that takes no space on the ground, there is no such worry.

Conclusion

I hope this post helps you consider a clamp tripod as a tripod alternative. Indeed, Super Clamp is like a game changer and more than just a mere alternative to a mini tripod, etc. Last but not least, be extra vigilant and tighten wherever must be tightened when using a clamp tripod somewhere high up. If the camera or any part is dropped, it could seriously injure people or break your gear.

 

Manfrotto Super Clamp

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Joey J is a Singapore based enthusiast photographer primarily shooting cityscapes at twilight and dusk (a.k.a. blue hour). Get his free eBook Taking Your First Long Exposure Photos at Blue Hour. Or visit his website LASTLIGHTS.NET where he posts his best photos (from Singapore, Brunei, Southeast Asia, and beyond) and shares his experience photographing cityscape photos with long exposure at blue hour.