I want to take photography of things laid on a table (fabric, drawing and painting mainly). So, basically, the lens just above it.
Are there "special stands" for this kind of photo?
So far, I saw 2 methods, both using tripod:

  • one with an tilting column: Tripod with column
  • one with a simple tripod, but a little bit tilted and secured with a string or something like that.

But does "table stand" or something like that exists? You know, something that works like an enlarger, but with a camera instead of the lens: Enlarger

It seems like it would be simpler to have that kind of thing than a tripod.


EDIT: apparently this "technic" is called "overhead camera".


4 Answers 4


Stands like that do exist. They're called copy stands and as you might imagine they were designed to copy things, usually flat artwork.

There are other options. Camera stands often have overhead arms, though they're bulky and expensive, though very stable.

Tripods do work well if you have a counterweight. They also make jibs for tripods (usually larger tripods) that go even further.

And finally there's the truly fancy stuff they use in hollywood.

You can rent some of the stuff – particularly the jibs – that are too expensive to buy. If you have a local TV or film equipment rental shop they'll have some of this stuff.

Or you can rig something up in another way – I've used a Bogen Magic Arm for overhead shots and Casey Neistat has built his own overhead shooting table out of scrap wood. But mostly I use tripods with counterweights.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Dang, those prices! This is the answer to my question, but I forgot to mention the price. I though something in the $100 range would be available, but clearly that's not the case :D. \$\endgroup\$
    – benichka
    Feb 5, 2018 at 11:49
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yea. That's why I use a tripod or a bogen magic arm unless I'm renting. Mattdm went over a few clamping options like the magic arm, which work great though can be a bit wobbly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jeremy S.
    Feb 6, 2018 at 12:06

The column of a tripod is often reversible, so you can straddle the subject and shoot downwards. Or you can build a gantry, though it's not really needed for today's lightweight cameras. I sometimes see this sort of arm. What I MOSTLY see is just a normal tripod, used normally. You can get pretty close to straight-down, maybe in conjunction with a slightly tilted table, without getting complicated.

enter image description here

  • \$\begingroup\$ One possible issue with the inverted column method is that it can make lighting a little more complicated, with the legs potentially throwing shadows around. I guess you could potentially turn the whole tripod into a light tent, though... \$\endgroup\$ Feb 4, 2018 at 21:45

In addition to copy stands, you might consider the Manfrotto Super Clamp and some of its various accessories.


For example, there are various articulated arms with 2 or 3 sections, and in double or single depending on the weight you want to support.

articulated arm

Or, double-jointed ball head:

double jounted

These aren't cheap — $30 for one clamp, and the various camera mounting options will set you back another $60 to $200, depending on options, but it's all very sturdy. You'll get a better solution than something frighteningly rigged together with gaffer tape, and it's much more versatile than a dedicated copy-stand setup would be.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I accepted the other answer because that's what I exactly asked, without mentioning the price. However, I think I'll end with your solution: clamps and articulated arm. It seems more practical and less expensive. \$\endgroup\$
    – benichka
    Feb 5, 2018 at 11:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ With a superclamp, a spare head and a centre column from an old/spare tripod, you can do quite well, though you may need a counterweight \$\endgroup\$
    – Chris H
    Feb 9, 2018 at 16:46

You want a reproduction arm, sometimes called a sidearm or crossbar.

repro arm

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. However it needs to be installed on a tripod, so it's not an ideal solution for me (in this case, I can just use the tilted column on my tripod). I didn't know this kind of arm existed though. \$\endgroup\$
    – benichka
    Feb 5, 2018 at 11:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ The knuckle in the middle of the repro arm pictured above has a 3/8 receiver with 1/4-20 adapter on the bottom. You can mount it on your tripod just like your camera. Then you mount your camera on one of the ends. i.imgur.com/kkPTyqQ.jpg \$\endgroup\$ Feb 6, 2018 at 1:42

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