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by Aditya

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How can I take horizontal photos where the object is lying flat on the floor? Do you know any stands/tripods which allow to point the camera straight downwards?

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3  
Very much related: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/7419/… –  Craig Walker Jun 13 '11 at 20:06

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The Manfrotto 55XPROB has a center column that swings over the legs and allows to shoot straight down. Thats the most common one that I'm aware of. Its a pretty solid tripod to boot.

EDIT: I just checked another tripod I have (a Dolica Proline 62"), which I think is the best-bang-for-your-buck at $40, its pretty stable, independent legs, and a ball head included. It ALSO can remove the center post, flip it, and position the camera between the legs instead of above them.

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That looks almost like what I need. Anything that doesn't cost as much? I'm not a professional :-) OTOH, maybe I should buy something decent because I'm not a pro so I don't struggle with the damn thing ... –  Aaron Digulla Jun 13 '11 at 19:40
1  
@Aaron Digulla - If you only have a cheapo 30 dollar tripod or no tripod at all, you will be SHOCKED by what a decent tripod does for your usability. Its often money well spent. Its the cheapest one that I'm aware of. –  rfusca Jun 13 '11 at 19:43
    
@Aaron Digulla - Check my edit for a budget friendly solution if you're ok with reversing the center post like Itai's answer. –  rfusca Jun 13 '11 at 20:14
    
If you need a (slightly) less expensive tripod, the Manfrotto 190XPROB costs less than the 55XPROB and has a centre column with the same ability to pivot 90 degrees so the camera looks straight down. –  RedGrittyBrick Jun 14 '11 at 19:19

The Slik Sprint Pro does it too. You get to reverse the center column so that the camera gets attached between the legs and it becomes easy to shoot downwards.

It paid $120 USD for it and sold it last week for $60.

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+1 - Nice find. –  rfusca Jun 13 '11 at 19:51
    
Reversing the center column (so the head is between the legs instead of above them) sounds exactly like what I'm looking for. –  Aaron Digulla Jun 13 '11 at 19:51

Just about any tripod allows you to shoot straight down AFAIK. Certainly my dirt-cheap HAMA PoS does. Just turn the head so it's equidistant between two legs and tilt it.

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Tilt it?...While holding one leg in the air? I'm having trouble visualizing it. –  rfusca Jun 13 '11 at 19:34
    
How much visual area on the photo is covered by the legs? –  Aaron Digulla Jun 13 '11 at 19:37
    
@rfusca: The mount for the camera probably allows to tilt it down without raising a leg. My problem with the approach is that I have too much leg on my photo. –  Aaron Digulla Jun 13 '11 at 19:38
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@Aaron Digulla - Right, I understand it can tilt down, but I guess I was assuming you didn't want to shoot the tripod leg(s) itself and was trying to visual that in this answer. Not a criticism, just trying to visualize. –  rfusca Jun 13 '11 at 19:40
    
The proposed method is perfectly valid, and was used a lot before I got me my current tripod. You can tilt the setup as much as you like, counterbalancing the camera's weight with hanging something heavy on the opposite leg. For getting the legs out of sight, play with longer focal lengths. –  ysap Jun 13 '11 at 19:59

As many have stated already, there are tripods that allow you to swing the center column. With an inclinable center column you are able to adjust the camera to point directly towards the floor. Keep in mind that statics is pushed to the max, when you tilt the center column to 90 degree and extend it completely. Therefore I would not try to save too much on the tripod, so you probably may want to shop for a tripod that supports heavier gear that you actually want to put on.

To align your camera absolutely horizontal to the ground you might want to use the spirit level on your tripod or head. If your tripod nor your head has a spirit level you can buy spirit levels that fit into the flash shoe of your camera.

I recently bought a new tripod that I really like and is capable to do what you are looking for. It is the Vanguard Alta Pro 284 CT (B&H Shop, review) with a Manfrotto 054 Magnesium Ball Head Q5. The cool thing about this tripods' center column is that you can set it up from zero to 180-degree angle. However, it has a couple of other features that make a good price/performance ratio in my opinion. With this combination of tripod and head nearly any angle and position is feasible.

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I was able to find a Manfrotto 3021BPro tripod used for around $80. Problem that you will need a head too (I ended up buying the Manfrotto 322CR2 head for $120). Like its successor, the 55XProB, its center column can be reversed, or fixed horizontally.

Regarding the suggestion by @ElendilTheTall, the proposed method is perfectly valid, and was used a lot before I got me my current tripod. You can tilt the setup as much as you need, counterbalancing the camera's weight with hanging something heavy on the opposite leg. For getting the legs out of sight, play with longer focal lengths.

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