Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

submit your photo


Hall of Fame
View past winners from this year

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Take the 2-minute tour ×
Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Let's assume I'm coordinated enough not to hit anyone or anything with the tripod.

I'm concerned about the DSLR/plate/head interface. Assuming everything is properly attached and tightened, can I balance my tripod legs over my shoulder like you would a gun or rake or other long object and have the DSLR hanging off the end without fear of it coming off or otherwise damaging the head.

This is the actual head I have, though I'm more concerned with the safety of this practice at a general level.

share|improve this question
    
Just wondering, not the Andy Heath I know from school from SE England? ;) –  Dreamager Feb 16 '12 at 13:50
    
That is the exact same head I have! It's amazing. Love it! –  Mike Feb 16 '12 at 14:22
    
I do this all the time when shooting landscape. I wrap the DSLR's neck strap around my shoulder when I do it though. I'm too lazy to collapse the tripod legs usually as well. YMMV. –  dpollitt Feb 16 '12 at 14:24
    
@Dreamager - sorry mate, my folks left England back when the Queen still reigned in New England ;-) –  Andrew Heath Feb 16 '12 at 14:48
    
I have done this before with my Bogen 3063 and a 4x5 View Camera. Yes everything was locked down real tight, but there was not any problem –  Zachary K Feb 16 '12 at 17:06

8 Answers 8

up vote 9 down vote accepted

There is no such thing as absolute safety. But you are probably fine doing this.

A few things to consider:

  • Some wildlife photographers say they are doing this (read this in a few blog posts, can't remember where). As well as a lot of sports photographers. But these guys also have equipment insurance and can be quite careless in what they do. I remember a few years ago I walked past the House of Parliament (London) and press photographers were outside, bored waiting for some politicians. Two of them were swinging their cameras on their straps a few inches over the ground, out of boredom.
  • You would only be doing this if you need to walk a few meters not a few kilometers.
  • Get into a habit of checking the head-tripod connection and head-camera connection every time you pick up the tripod. This might also increase overall safety.
  • If you do this, get tripod-leg warmers to soften the legs pressure on your shoulder. They are probably not called leg warmers...
share|improve this answer
2  
The poor man's substitute for real "leg warmers" is pipe insulation from the hardware store, wrapped with gaffer's tape. –  coneslayer Feb 16 '12 at 12:54

Sure, I do this all the time.

Here is a tip: Thread your camera strap through the tripod legs. This way its 1) out of the way, and 2) if for some reason the quick release fails, the camera will drop only as far as the strap will allow. Good for an OMG! moment, but no sickly metal/glass crash sound at the end.

Honestly, this is really the only time I actually use my neck strap on my camera. For the record, that is a Kirk BH-3 and it has NEVER failed me. [insert crappy phone photos here]

enter image description here

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
1  
If you want the lens to snap off the camera by all means keep doing it this way. If I were you (and this is the correct way) use the tripod ring on the lens to attach to the tripod. Otherwise if you were to hit something or knock it over the lens can snap off, thephotoforum.com/forum/photography-equipment-products/… –  Graeme Hutchison Feb 16 '12 at 15:36
1  
Its only a 70-200, and does not come with a tripod ring...but point taken. Note that in the referenced post, the tripod fell over with camera attached: having a tripod ring would have made little difference. This question is related to carrying your camera attached to the tripod. Why not post your comment as an answer to this question? –  cmason Feb 16 '12 at 15:42
    
Its related as the op asks is it safe. You have more chance of damaging the equipment if the camera is not balanced on the tripod, this mount configuration will be very unbalanced and will be a lot easier to knock over, possibly ending in disaster. –  Graeme Hutchison Feb 16 '12 at 15:47
    
Fair enough. Note that this image is just showing the strap. Typically the tripod legs extend beyond the camera lens, but doing so would not fit in the photo. –  cmason Feb 16 '12 at 16:35
    
@GraemeHutchison thanks for the forum link, the photos are shocking and I really should stop dangling my telephoto on the strap... –  rockacola Feb 16 '12 at 23:01

In general the answer is yes, given this is primarily how professional sports photographers carry cameras/lenses - monopod slung over the shoulder with the lens and camera attached.

This is about the best photo I can find to demonstrate this:

image (c) Fred Hurteau, naturephotography.fredhurteau.com

They're using heavy duty pods/plates I can't speak for the specific model you have linked to.

share|improve this answer

With a lightweight head, I would be more careful. When I carry my camera on its tripod, I try hold the camera at my shoulder (or resting on my shoulder), while letting the legs point straight down. Usually, I will have my arm on the legs. I carry it in a way that keeps the vibrations and torque on the head to a minimum while I am walking.

At some point, practically all material that flexes is going to crack. It may start as a small, invisible crack, but once a crack occurs, it introduces points of high stress that lead to failure. Stronger material or sturdier design will minimize risk. A big camera or a heavy lens that can place large torque on the head can be more of a problem than a lightweight camera with a short lens.

I wouldn't carry my camera with a heavy long lens for long distances in a horizontal position (like Matt's picture shows) unless the mount is very sturdy (like Matt's picture also shows.) Every bounce that the tripod and camera experiences translates into a strain right at the head that can lead to failure. Carrying it vertically puts all the strain into compressing the material, rather than flexing it. It's less likely to fail that way.

share|improve this answer

I'm going to disagree with the others. While the camera locking mechanism is unlikely to fail, you are putting stress on the head from forces that aren't present during normal use of a camera and tripod.

  • threads holding head to legs
  • any ball/pan locking mechanisms
  • threads holding camera to quick release plate
  • locking mechanism holding QR plate to head
  • lens mount if carrying a long or heavy lens

Those are a lot of points of failure.

For example, a camera and lens combo totalling 1.5kg (3 lbs). You may have a tripod head rated for 5kg (12 lbs). But the forces you are creating bouncing that camera at the end of a tripod over your shoulder may easily exceed that.

Will the camera come off? Unlikely. But you could end up stripping threads, damaging your camera mount, or weakening the tripod head locking mechanisms so that they are not as effective as they once were.

Yes professional photographers, especially sports photographers, can be see carrying their gear in this way. But they may not have the luxury of time to repeatedly detach/reattach a camera, and as @unapiedra said, they'll have sufficient insurance to repair any breakages. Going through gear is what they do.

share|improve this answer
    
Mike, have you ever experienced any of those points of failure, or are you talking from a theoretical sense? I've never experienced any of those with either a 300/2.8 or 500/4 plus camera on the end of a tripod or monopod. –  Eric Feb 19 '12 at 13:28
    
Purely theoretical. For example, running can put a force on your joints that is 8x your body weight. So it's easy to believe that a camera bouncing on the end of a tripod over your shoulder could experience forces double or triple the weight of the camera itself, and I think it would be especially vulnerable if it's horizontal at the end of the tripod, not resting on top of it as it normally would be. –  MikeW Feb 23 '12 at 6:09

Assuming like you said everything is tight and in place then sure there is no need to worry about you camera falling off.

I often carry a monopod with a Nikon FX body and a 400mm f2.8 weighing in at 11lb, over my sholulder around stadia with fans and children running about, some of them knock their heads on the lens or trip over the monopod leg, even though it is onlt 1/2 foot infront of me. But it always does more damage to them and the camera and lens stay in place.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 for the damage done to the kids ;-) –  Mike Feb 16 '12 at 14:23

It all comes down to how much you trust your tripod/head. Evidently lots of professional photographers do it. I personally don't carry my camera that way, but then again my tripod is about 10x cheaper than my camera.

share|improve this answer

In general, I'd say it's ok. Just make sure everything is tight before slinging, and try fiddling to see if you can easily/accidentally knock the camera out of the QR mechanism.

I use the Arca-Swiss QR system with plates from Really Right Stuff. Many of their plates feature a stopper screw which is an extra safety measure exactly for this purpose. For example, take a look at the underside of this Nikon D300 plate (the second photo). Notice the little silver screw, which stands up just a little bit from the plate. When mounting the camera on the tripod, this screw keeps the camera from sliding off in one direction, even if the clamp isn't fully tightened. When carrying, just make sure the side with the stopper is "up" and there's a little extra assurance that you won't lose your gear.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.