Lighting 101 - Super Clamps

While stands are usually the best choice, they aren't the only way to hold a light in a specific location. And other options take up less room in a lighting kit, too.

The favorite of most shooters is the "super clamp." It can latch onto just about anything, provided the thickness is a couple inches or less.

The bent arms of the clamping jaws make it particularly appropriate for clamping onto a variety of shapes. Pipes, railing, doors, shelves, tables, tree branches, electrical conduit running up the wall in a high school gym (not too tight...) are all no problem.

It comes with a stud that will accept a ball head or an umbrella stand adapter, too. So mounting your light is very easy. They are about $22.00, and every photographer should have at least one.

With the right accessory, they can hold remote cameras too -- or fix a roll of background paper to a light stand. A super clamp is one very useful piece of gear.

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Anonymous conrad erb said...

Bogen also makes a slightly more expensive spring clamp that has a stud and a cold shoe on a ball joint. $55 at B&H, and very convenient.

July 08, 2006 6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm missing something. When looking at the Bogen Super Clamp, model# of which I haven't seen yet, (search at MPE for Bogen Super Clamp netted nothing) I can't imagine how this would hold my Canon 580EX at the hotshoe. There must be some other piece of gear not mentioned. Clamping directly to the delicate hotshoe interface is not a go. I see a comment stating: "It comes with a stud that will accept a ball head or an umbrella stand adapter, too." But unless it accepts a hot-shoe what other piece of gear would one look for?

November 26, 2006 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the clamp is just a clamp you have to get a ball head or umbrella stand adaptor to make use of the clamp

December 01, 2006 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi David
I saw this monster pod at PhotoplusExpo this year and I was wondering if this could be used instead of the clamp:
It would be awesome to mount a flash on it and:
1.if you are shooting a portrait,have a hairlight in a tight office spot
2.if you're shooting a presentation,just stick it on the wall instead of a stand
3.if you shoot outside,stick it on a three bark
4.if you're in a bus,on a bar
....soooo manny more ideas

From their site,they don't advise you to leave it more than 10 minutes,but I guess it all depends on the angle you put it ,texture,how clean the surface is,etc
Did anyone tried this???

Also my bows on your efforts and generosity in sharing your experience.

January 13, 2007 10:43 PM  
Anonymous brett said...

I just found your blog and it is great. Just what I needed. I'm making the switch from product photography to editorial portraiture and this is a great setup. I'm a big fan of the less is more approach. I don't need to impress anybody with big heavy lights that they ultimately could care less about. The picture is all that matters in the end.

February 02, 2007 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pony clamp with a bolt to hold adapters, etc., JB Welded on - about $8.00

March 06, 2007 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Duncan Babbage said...

Fabulous blog... have finally today got an off-camera setup working with an ebay wireless trigger and am looking forward to putting all this into practice.

Wondering about the Bogen Quick Release Super Clamp, as opposed to the original that you picture here. Do you have an opinion as to which is better? I'd tend to err towards something called "Quick Release", and it looks slightly less bulky, but sometimes a quick release can release when you don't want it to! Any thoughts?

March 17, 2007 5:57 AM  
Blogger Peter Bryenton said...

It may help UK readers to know that Bogen = Manfrotto.

See also

Peter Bryenton

April 02, 2007 1:43 PM  
Blogger Fiendish said...

Yup - Manfrotto are an Italian company who manufacter these. Bogan are simply their US distributors.

June 11, 2007 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

I just received the LumoPro version of the super clamp from mpex. Included with it were two small hex head machine bolts and the corresponding hex/allen wrench. These bolts thread into two matching holes on the bottom of the clamp itself. In the picture of the clamp mounted on the door above, you can just make out the threaded holes on the body of the clamp. Any idea what those two bolts are used for?

February 07, 2008 12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a related question. I have been mounting two strobes in basketball gyms using the superclamps. This works quite well except that the strobe tends to slide out of the hot shoe mount if crowd gets rowdy. Does anyone know of a successful way to secure the strobe to the hot shoe?

February 21, 2008 3:18 PM  
Blogger DaveRe said...

re: keeping a strobe in its hot shoe...

Gaff tape? ;)

February 24, 2008 8:40 AM  
Blogger I Am Leland said...

Just in case I need it, i find it handy to bring a c-clamp along with my super clamp. that way, i can clampy clamp just about anything under five inches. Just attach the super clamp to the rim of the c-clamp and you're set!

March 04, 2008 10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe they are also referred to as "mayfers" by those movie grip types.

April 06, 2008 10:06 PM  
Blogger John said...

The superclamp is pretty handy but I was a bit shocked by the size (and weight of the thing). Mine is a Manfrotto 035C but shouldn't be much different from the plain vanilla version.

Initially I had a devil of a time figuring out how to attach my umbrella adapter (Manfrotto 026) to it. The trick turned out to be a number 013 adapter.

Still, it’s a bit of a brick to carry. 525g including the 013 adapter...

April 12, 2008 9:54 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

My brother made his own clamp and it works great you just use a pony clamp bought at any hardware store for around 8 dollars drill a hole in it and find a bolt that will fit your speedlight and there rated to hold up to 50 lbs. Hope this saves some money.

May 10, 2008 11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a worldwide frustrating stupidity trend with these or other similar clamps: Nobody explains what adapters are compatible to what clamps and light fixtures. No examples on the stores or elsewhere. It is supposed that everybody knows! How stupid this is?

May 31, 2008 12:33 PM  
Blogger R&D said...

Another very lightweight option is the Joby Gorillapod with the flash shoe adapter:

It's amazing what these things will hold on to.

August 28, 2008 2:15 PM  
Blogger Lucho said...

Excellent blog. I am sort of new to SLR photography. Thanks to this blog I'm interested in flash Photography but there are a lot of things still to learn. I went to buy one of this clamps online and found that you need a stub for it. There are a few sizes and prices vary a lot. Can someone give me a hand with this please. I want to mount a umbrella adapter or my camera to it.

November 05, 2008 8:03 AM  
Blogger Terry Thomas... the photographer said...

On February 21, 2008 3:18 PM
Anonymous said...

I have a related question. I have been mounting two strobes in basketball gyms using the Superclamps.

This works quite well except that the strobe tends to slide out of the hot shoe mount if crowd gets rowdy.

Does anyone know of a successful way to secure the strobe to the hot shoe?


The answer is actually shown in the photographs but the blogger did not embelish.

The trick is to use a "cold shoe" with a locking clamp.

a. cold shoe = no metal or other parts that will cause the flash to go off when it is slid into the adapter

b. clamp = a device which tightens

One example is the company that makes Stroboframes. They have a Cold Shoe that is made in two parts. One part holds the strobes shoe. The second part can move and is tightened by a small red plastic knob attached to a threaded bolt.

With the Stroboframe cold shoe attached to a Superclamp, no flash should ever find itself falling off due to crowd noises.

BTW, I work on movie sets creating Production Stills and one of the lighting rules states that anytime a device such as a light is over people's heads it should have a safety line attached in case the clamp should break or slip. The same rule should apply to photographers - secure a safety line to your lights. For strobes and Pocket Wizards I use strong Nylon fishing line. It weighs almost nothing and takes almost no space.

Terry Thomas...
the photographer
Atlanta, Georgia USA

July 27, 2009 11:49 AM  
Blogger Danita Rogers said...

Flash Zebra has a lot of different options. I have several hotshoes and coldshoe adapters from them. I usually buy several when I order...these things seem to get up and run away.

May 17, 2010 10:23 PM  
Blogger Jeffrey said...

Terry-great call on the safety line. My son is a DJ, and we safety-cable every single lights, whether they're overhead or not. I never thought of the fishlike idea, but I can see where some 70# test would work well, or some nylon webbing. We're certainly not talking about much weight.

March 06, 2011 6:03 PM  
Blogger Africa Jam DERB said...

Arnon- Hey Guys, I would just like to know, is it possible to use a super clamp to mount an umbrella as well, or is it just for mounting a flash. Would I need anything else besides an umbrella stand adapter?

July 10, 2012 5:04 AM  
Blogger Africa Jam DERB said...

Hey- Would I need anything else besides a super clamp to mount both flash and umbrella to shoot through. Keep in mind that I am trying to escape the whole stand idea.

July 10, 2012 5:07 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Technically, you could do it with a superclamp and an umbrella swivel. But I think it is a bad idea. Plus, it would put a lot of torque on whatever you clamped the superclamp to.

This is a six-year-old post. If you have any further Q's, I would suggest asking at the Strobist Discussion Group on Flickr. Thanks.

July 10, 2012 10:45 AM  

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