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Camera support on wheelchair

Warren Marts , Dec 30, 1998; 05:12 p.m.

In an article about Tripod Restrictions (http://db.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=000L1N) Carlos Co asked the question: >>I wonder how many of you are now using the Bogen super clamp and >> variable friction articulated arms rated for 8 lbs. with a wheelchair.

I wonder this too, most especially because i _do_ use a wheelchair 99% of the time, and can't walk without support.

My current camera support is a Benbo Trekker tripod and ballhead. The flexibility of leg positioning makes the Benbo work better for me than a conventional design. Their lightweight head is terrible, and I'll probably end up with an Arca Swiss. I've got the brochure on the Bogen clamp system, but haven't had a chance to see it anywhere.

Has anyone had a chance to try their clamp and extension arms? How would it work with 6 lbs. of camera + ballhead + 300f4 lens, in particular??? I've been considering getting something custom built, because I'd really like to have a system that doesn't involve trying to carry a tripod between my knees while I push the chair around.

Any experience with the Bogen clamp and arms, or suggestions about building a custom arm, or even ideas for camera support I haven't considered would be appreciated. .


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Don Baccus , Dec 30, 1998; 11:53 p.m.

I have absolutely no suggestions, but this is such an unusual yet crucial question (to those confined to wheelchairs) that I would encourage you to find an off-the-shelf solution if at all possible, and to then write an article for the main photo.net information section so that others so confined could learn from your explorations and experience.

I recall seeing one magazine article on this general problem of how to support a camera from a wheelchair many years ago, but don't know where. Outdoor Photographer? Modern/Popular photography? Unfortunately, I don't even clearly remember HOW long ago I saw it.

Ellis Vener , Dec 31, 1998; 03:06 a.m.

Yes I have had experiennce with the Bogen system for mounting camera to bicycles and other things that move but never a wheel chair.

My fist thought is that you might want to have some sort of easily adjustable, removable custom support clamp+strut+ platform made for you that you mount your tripod head on.

My second thought is that there is one nearby go see a movie production equipment rental facility and look at either the Bogen Avenger or Matthews catalogs. This equipment is heavier duty but about the same weight of the Bogen Superclamp system. They may even be able to help you fabricate just the kind of device you need.

Carlos Co , Dec 31, 1998; 08:23 a.m.

I have tried the Bogen super clamp with variable friction arms with an Elan II, BP50, and 70-200/2.8 at 200 mm, 1/2 second with MLU (no additional head was used). The picture unfortunately was taken on Royal Gold 400, but after examining the 4x6 print using a 4x loupe, it satisfies my amateur standards. However, I have to say that this rig took a long time to setup safely. One wrong move and the whole thing would go tumbling down. I strongly discourage you from using the Bogen clamp and variable friction arm with your 300/f4 lens on a regular basis.

Paul Wilson , Dec 31, 1998; 09:45 a.m.

I've seen but not used the Bogen super clamp. I think it would be insufficient for your setup.

Have you thought of trying to pursue a custom setup? I could imagine a wheel chair that had a platform on each arm to support one unextended tripod leg and the 3rd leg could go on the ground.

Bill Smith , Dec 31, 1998; 05:31 p.m.

Hi Warren,

I own a bunch of superclamps and two magic arms, and use them to rig remote cameras. I think the single arm rig you propose would have too much torque. I do think that two superclamps or Avengers, one on each arm of the chair, could serve as support and means of attaching an A frame with a third leg to the ground as suggested by a previous poster topped by a ball head.

Actually, Bogen/Manfrotto sell a clamp for attaching binocculars to tripods. It's just a superclamp with rubber padding in the jaws. I use it when I need to be gentle to the thing I'm clamping onto. Superclamps will probably chew up your chair's arms.

I like Ellis's movie equipment rental house idea. They can probably rig something up for you. Also, I've found Bogen's service department helpful when I need parts for my stuff. They could probably sell you parts to cobble something together, or even invent a new product. I mean L.L. Bean sells wheelchair backpacks, so obviiously there's a market.

If you decide to try the magic arm, get the variable friction one with the round knob. The one with the lever is tough to adjust so that it clamps tight enough to hold up the rig you propose.

Cheers and God bless,

Bill Smith

Bill Smith , Dec 31, 1998; 05:33 p.m.

Sorry, Paul. I know you don't have a ball head.


Peter May , Jan 04, 1999; 09:36 a.m.

Warren, Good luck on this one and please let me know if you come up with a workable solution. I use a wheelchair 100% of the time, and dealing with a tripod is a huge pain in the butt that I've just learned to live with. My one concern would be transmitting vibrations from the chair to the camera support during long exposures. It seems to me that ANY movement by the inhabitant of the chair would produce a significant amount of camera movement. Anyone have any ideas about how to avoid this? Peter May

Alan Gibson , Jan 04, 1999; 11:56 a.m.

I have a Manfrotto (Bogen) arm gadget, don't know the number, but it has two arms on a pivot, a camera platform at one end, and a clamp at the other. Not stiff enough for a 600mm lens, but fine for shorter lenses.

This arm can be clamped to one leg of a tripod, and it seems to me that a wheelchair user could have the tripod to the side of the chair, with the camera in a fairly natural position. Long exposures would then be immune to the photographer's movements.

Or how about two tripods, with a pole between them?

Warren Marts , Jan 17, 1999; 07:24 p.m.

My current plan revolves around adding a fabricated crossbar between the front frame rails (under my knees) and mounting a tripod center column or a big monopod that would come up and back. My wheelchair is a rigid frame ultralight design, and does not have arms of any kind. My goal is to have something that will work with at least a 300/4 or a 400/5.6 lens - not because I own one now, but I know I want to be able to use one eventually.

I'm planning to have to have either a fixed wedge shaped plate or something like the G321 leveling base between the column and the ballhead to make the ballhead's axis vertical.

I've got a Gitzo brochure and I'm considering the G1318 center column as the part to try - it's the center column from the G13xx carbon fiber tripods, and it has 13.25 inches of extension, which probably is enough to put the camera at a good height with a ballhead and an angled plate on the end. The big G1588 monopod would definately be long enough, but might require more work to devise a mount for, since it doesn't have the nice large mounting collar the center column has.

I will also try the Bogen Avenger or Matthews catalogs that Ellis suggested. A completely off-the-shelf solution would be nice if the price is reasonable and the equipment is not to heavy or bulky.

As far as keeping things steady for long exposures, my idea is just to sit still with my hands in my lap, and use a cable release.

I'm actively working on this now, and I'll follow up when I have some results to sha

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