MetalHead Makes Your Home Depot Boom More Functional, Less Embarrassing

This is is a MetalHead. At least, that's what I am calling it.

I first saw one while teaching in Paso Robles earlier this month, and it is a pretty neat idea.

It is made of solid, turned aluminum (or aluminiumium, for you syllable-happy UK'ers.) It converts the threaded end of a standard painter's pole -- of which there are many inexpensive and varied choices -- to a 5/8" male stud. And it does so without adding too much weight.

This makes it perfect for mounting speedlights (via the umbrella swivel) for your voice-activated-booming pleasure. It is perfect for when you wanna go all Nick Turpin on someone.

Working in manual (like Nick does) you'd want to keep your distances consistent. I am not a heavy wireless TTL user, but for event / wedding shooters this would also be a sweet combo with a RadioPopper or a PW Flex. Or plain old CLS / eTTL, of course.

You can read much more about it on PixSylated (including an ideal extendable HD pole to mate it with). They are available for $18.99, here, and $21.99, here.

(Click on the pic if you want to know how it was lit with one, handheld speedlight.)



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Blogger Steven Erat said...

Funny timing on the metalhead post... I've been known to plod around ACE hardware fondling their mop handles, looking for something to improvise as an inexpensive boom arm. I actually brought in some umbrella adapters to try on, but the screw heads were all a fraction too wide.

I just recently ended up purchasing the Manfrotto 024-B boom arm instead. Inspired by your posts on Nick Turpin, I also purchased a tool belt from Home Depot so that an assistant can anchor the boom arm comfortably on the go by settling the boom into the leather pocket.

Also, inspired by Zack Arias' success with the Weston Apollo (as shown his One Light Workshop DVD), I'm experimenting with mounting the Apollo on the Manfrotto boom, while using two 580EXIIs each with a CP-E4 battery pack, routed through a single PW Plus II using the splitter that comes with Paramount Cords Strobe Dolly.

So far, the weakness of this system is that the metal on metal of the boom knuckle is not tight enough and will have to retrofit it with some rubber innertube strips for better traction that will allow the Apollo to hold the desired tilt.

BTW, looking forward to seeing you in San Miguel this October. Haven't travel tested the large Tenba Roadie case yet, but is supposed to meet TSA carry-on requirements in the US, but I'm nervous about Mexico carry-on standards.

May 22, 2009 12:10 AM  
Blogger John Maciel (Johan Blitzen or JohnnyFlash to camera geek buddies) said...

DANG! I just finished making one myself from a paint roller handle that now sports a nice 3/8" screw for mounting a tripod head. It's really quite high speed, but not anywhere near as "official photo gear" looking as this handsome unit... SOLD!

May 22, 2009 12:14 AM  
Blogger James said...

I'm in the process of putting together a stand/boom setup and I was wishing for this very piece of hardware a couple weeks ago. As I was walking around Home Depot with a painter pole, I was saying to myself, 'man I wish there was some kind of threaded adapter that had a spigot on the end for a bracket.' But instead, I ended up spending about 20-30 minutes with my dremel tool carving out a tight hole for a bolt to epoxy in the end of the pole so I could thread an extra spigot I have. It's going to work and for less money but had I known about these, I would have sprung for one. At least for peace of mind. I may still anyway.

This is the second time these were referenced. The first time was about a week ago on the discussion board.

I guess I should take that as some sort of sign.

May 22, 2009 12:49 AM  
Blogger nathan said...

That's pretty cool. I'd be very interested in a similar adapter that went from a painters pole to a microphone stand thread. Painters poles are great to use for boom mics and as far as I know, the only way to attach a mic clip is duct tape. But perhaps this is the wrong blog for that...

May 22, 2009 1:14 AM  
Blogger Graham Gott said...

Since the D3 came out, I've been using a similar set-up for indoor equestrian events. Instead of having to install my old studio lights on the wall using a ladder, I now just have my SB-24 on a 18ft window cleaners pole resting against the arena wall. I can use 1/2 or even 1/4 power for just that bit of 'lift' and the best bit is, it only takes 60 seconds to install or move around if required. As you say, not so good hand held because the distance to subject will nearly always vary. CLS is the way to go here.

May 22, 2009 3:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

where can us UK'ers buy them?

May 22, 2009 3:59 AM  
Blogger Jason Bell said...

I'm going to take a closer look at this aluminininum (I'm English :) ) beasty. I've been using SB-600's on the end of my Manfrotto monopod with excellent results, even with CLS the flash is triggering no problem at all.

May 22, 2009 5:33 AM  
Blogger rock'n'roll photographer said...

First person in the UK to let me know where I can get one of these gets a cheese sandwich!

May 22, 2009 6:11 AM  
Blogger Kevin Housen said...

Thanks for the tip. Just ordered one!

May 22, 2009 7:23 AM  
Blogger Lee Hammond Photography said...

This is a great idea for shooting in a karate or martial arts class, where a light stand is too wide and there's often nowhere to clamp to. I can ask my VAL to hold this.

Brits say aluminium with the stress on the 'in'. You had too many 'iums'. In the US, the stress is on the 'lu'.

May 22, 2009 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Mark Palmer said...

I made something similar a while ago, that has a tripod screw on the top for use with a compact camera. Have thought about using it for flash.
My assumption is that there are two parts to this, the pole attachment and the flash "spindle".
Would be good to have a UK supplier.

May 22, 2009 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From David Martin;

I wonder if a bulk order could be arranged for the UK. They look like they will fit a standard pole (I'm about to do the bodge with a bolt thing on a Harris 5m pole (15 quid from B&Q - seems quite solid).
I'd definitely be up for one or maybe two.

Probably solid enough to put the D80 on as well for some interesting viewpoints.

May 22, 2009 10:20 AM  
Blogger midwestphotoexchange said...

@rock'n'roll: We are happy to ship just about anywhere in the world. Already getting orders coming in from Europe and a few other places for this item. For a shipping quote, email
Now you can send that cheese sandwich to 3313 N. High St., Columbus,Ohio 43202 USA. Please send it next day, otherwise my dog gets it.

Midwest Photo Exchange

May 22, 2009 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Matt Boyd said...

Cant find them for sale in the uk... Maybe we could persuade TFC to import them for us...

May 22, 2009 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, had to go to Home Depot today anyway, so I checked out this pole. That thing is soooo cool. The pushbutton open and close action is fantastic! Much more convenient than screwing open thos couplings on regular poles. I just have to figure out a way to use it as both a monopod and lightpole!

May 22, 2009 2:42 PM  
Anonymous ric woods photography said...

Go easy om your assistants, to hold the painters pole for longer periods or maxium extension, use a fishermans belt with the rod holder the type they use to support long game/beach fishing rods. I discoverd that trick after doing this shot There is a lot of weight out there if you need height and to have the setup out of the sceen. You can even add a shoulder harness to take a load off your arms.
You WILL get weird looks wearing the item around when its not being me!

Great site I have learned lots from all you guys

ric- newcastle(australia)

May 22, 2009 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this would work on my diy car rig on the end of a painters pole to umbrella bracket to camera, would it not?

May 22, 2009 9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim S Central Cal
Had to spring for two, beats bungees or gaffers tape. This just adds so much to my location kit, and a few painters poles thrown in for High Lights .... Makes CLS worth every sheckle!

May 25, 2009 12:51 AM  
Anonymous Matt Haines said...

funny the first thing i thought of was a camera mount, rather than a light mount! i did a shoot for a playground installer a few months back, and they wanted a wide-angle view from up high. but didn't want to rent a cherry picker/lift truck for it. so i built a 'pole-cam' for it. the weak spot though was the 1/4" bolt drilled into a wooden section of extension pole, and i worried about it cracking. this and a umbrella adapter (and stud with 1/4" end) would take the place of the tripod head and wood. nice!

i blogged it here, in case you're interested.

May 26, 2009 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This looks cool, but wouldn't it be more versatile with a thread on the tip like many lightstands have, or am I missing something?

May 28, 2009 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Wonder if it's possible to modify this setup so the speedlite can be swiveled up and down, controlled by the assistant with a lever or something. My first thought was to base the swivel on something like a wringer mop, but surely there's a better way to cause the tilt action.

May 29, 2009 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Jim3535 said...

Wow, I was looking for anything that could be modified to do this not more that a few weeks ago. I ended up getting a file and filing the threads off a painter's pole to use for some pole aerial photography.

This looks like a much better solution.

June 02, 2009 10:36 PM  
Blogger David Martin said...

The painters pole made by Harris can be used with a simple 1/4" bolt through the hole in the top of the screw fit adapter. I fitted a ball mount but pretty much anything would go (umbrella mount etc.)

June 03, 2009 10:03 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

What is a source for the Harris pole?

June 09, 2009 2:31 PM  
Blogger nathanoj said...

I second the suggestion that a threaded tip would an improvement. (having just received mine and not found the expected thread. My mistake - I thought the blunt end was a cap that protected and covered the threads).

April 06, 2010 5:03 AM  

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