Camera support—looking downward

Started by edhackett, April 15, 2019, 01:01:55 pm


Good day,

May I ask what others here use for tripod and ball head when photographing things on the ground or very low?  I've been doing some close-up nature photography with a nikon 150 micro on D300 and it is best to be really still.  I have head of reversing the center post on the tripod but that's pretty difficult with my stuff (old Gitzo reported RRS BH55)--too heavy to hang upside down, I think, and awkward to wrestle into position.  Any better setups to recommend?  Or just deal with it?

Thanks and best wishes,



bean bag works for me for at ground shots or on a rock.


I had the center column of my (old) Gitzo tripod with carbon legs removed and a Manfrotto 3-way gear head attached.  Removal of the center column allows the legs to be spread completely, which allows the tripod center to be right on the ground.  Only the 3-way head builds up above ground level.

I never enjoyed inverting a tripod's center column and attaching the camera that way, but everyone needs to find their preferred style and hardware.  Though the Gitzo center column is solidly guided, I never used one.  So removing it completely didn't bother me at all and saved weight.

Vieri Bottazzini

I use my RRS TVC-33 tripod (no center column, which I don't recommend anyway) with the legs completely horizontal and my Arca-Swiss P0 head, which is pretty short. That brings me close enough to the ground for my purposes.

Best regards,

Vieri Bottazzini
Formatt-Hitech Signature Artist | ABIPP


1. flatten (full size) tripod legs to horizontal (most common)
2. some form of ground pod / bean bag ("Platypod" or ordinary tabletop tripod with standard Arca-Swiss p0 ball head moved temporarily from the full size legs). This may be necessary in situations where it is hard to fit the flattened legs of the full-size tripod. The Platypod Max covers an area of approx. 5 x 7" - weighs 13 oz. The Platypod Ultra is 3.5 oz and covers area of approx 3 x 5", therefore, not a good choice for tele lenses, but could possibly handle a light camera with a short macro lens. Stability is related to size as well as weight - the 4 "legs" (bolts, height adjustable for length of bolt) are at the corners of the Platypod sheet of aluminum. A home-made ground pod, similar to the "Skimmer" used by bird photographers for easily movable ground pod, could also work - 1 cheap aluminum frying pan with sloping sides, a home drill and lubricating oil, a wood spacer of desired height, a 3/8" bolt of desired length.


I have used Benbo or Unilock tripods for years for low mount or unusual positioning. I won't try to describe how they work, google is your friend, but I have never found a position that I couldn't get the tripod into, from instant upside down to flat on the ground to off to the side. You do quickly learn to keep one hand on the tripod whenever you are adjusting it.

Good luck,