Making of

Super lightweight video crane

I got an idea one day of combining my tripod, videohead and monopod to make up a simple video crane. I can not hike around lugging crane in my backbag so I have never felt need for one. I have found ways to overcome or just decided to get different types of shots. Some overhead shots, raises and long sideways movements are just not possible without it so this got me thinking of making one from the stuff I always carry around.

After getting initial idea of such thing I was trying to figure out how to attach monopod to videohead and remembered that I bought Manfrotto Nano Clamp last year, and it just lies in my backbag for occasional use when clamping cameras onto trees or something. Super small, yet sturdy clamp was like made for this. Attaching triangular shaped Manfrotto 390 monopod to it was easy.

This whole setup is made from things that I always carry in my backpack while filming so there is no extra weight to get it to work. No need for building, no need for any tricks, just combine the different camera supports and you get working crane in couple of minutes. It works best for overhead types of things or when you have to move your camera hanging outside from a ledge or cliff example. Much easier than trying to hold your camera on a monopod by your hands only.

The setup has some flaws, first of all it is not truly a crane or jib since the camera is fixed in position with regular ballhead, there are no joints for camera to swivel, pan or anything. It is not steady on small or flimsy tripods, I used Gitzo Systematic series 4 tripod and with that using crane was easy, I doubt my Gitzo traveler can hold it. Clamp attachment to Manfrotto videohead is done by just screwing it into quick release plate, this can move if you are not holding the monopod while turning. I think I can figure out a better solution to some of its flaws but right now I am happily using this little trick to combine different elements into a whole new thing that allows me to shoot different types of shots.


Crane in use, this time from up to downwards movement. Better to use both hands, one on the handle and other on the monopod.


Attachment to plate and head. This is weak spot but it can handle DSLR with fixed lens no problem.


Head on my monopod is Manfrotto 492, really sturdy and small ballhead easily enough for Nikon D800 and 16mm Zenitar Fisheye.


Combine these things and you get fully working crane!

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