As a model maker, I’ve recently started live-streaming my work to connect with my audience and share my creative process. However, capturing the right angle can be challenging, especially when using a full-fledged DSLR with a tele macro lens. There’s not a lot of room on a craft bench for a camera. Also, positions with a clear line of sight to the actual work are tricky to find.
In this post, I’ll describe how I made a low-profile stand for my camera. A stand that holds my camera stable and fits the standard module size of a HobbyZone craft workstation. If you are familiar with the Platypod system, this is somewhat of a similar concept.
My previous solution for holding the camera was pretty much jury-rigged and not stable at all. My camera fell onto the desk more than once. This was A – frustrating, and more importantly, B – posing a risk to both my camera and my models. To overcome this issue, I scratched my head for a while and came up with the idea of 3D printing a low-profile, small-footprint stand. One that would sit on the top of my HobbyZone workstation, directly in front of me, but out of the way.
Even though this was designed with streaming model-making in mind, this design would be useful for any purpose where you need to get a camera mounted at a low angle in a small space—places where a tripod would be too cumbersome. Off the top of my head, I can think of some trivial usees like:
- Recording a time-lapse of drawing art
- tabletop macro photography
- recording low-angle video for a unique perspective
- Any electronics work, or
- low-angle nightscapes with foreground objects and long exposures.
I downloaded a free copy of Fusion360 to sketch out a design idea. Fusion360 is a very capable and easy-to-learn 3D drafting software application. The free version is limited to 10 concurrent active projects and doesn’t have some more advanced industrial-scale features, but it’s perfect for designing small objects for 3D printing at home.
I came up with a stand with a platform to mount a ball head, with cavities for either a 3/8″-16 hex or a 1/4″-20 hex bolts. Those are pretty much the standard for different-sized ball heads. I grabbed a bolt from a local hardware store and cut it to a length that fit the ball head.
The head mount is as far back as possible to provide space for a large ball head while also keeping the center of gravity as far back as possible. In case the camera/lens combo was really front-heavy, I also added two screw shafts on the back corners. These were added to the design after I printed the stand, as I realized that extra bracing could be valuable.
The STL file can be downloaded for free at Thingiverse (if you like it, you can leave me a tip there!). If my design doesn’t quite suit your needs, I strongly recommend downloading Fusion360 and trying to design your own stand. If you have a 3D printer or access to a friend with one, you’ll quickly discover how it can be an incredibly helpful tool for photography!
In conclusion, I am thrilled with my DIY camera-stand and the results it has produced for my live streaming. It’s such a great feeling to go from an idea to a useful tool in the space of a couple of days!
About the Author
Neil Creek is a professional photographer, amateur astrophotographer, and avid gamer from Australia. If you’re interested in catching one of his streams, you can follow him on Twitch.