Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Studio Equipment: Lateral Arm

-By Dan dos Santos

A 'lateral arm' is an extension that attaches to your tripod, which allows you to mount your camera to a horizontal arm instead of the typical vertical shaft. I didn't even know these things existed until recently, when I went searching for a better way to film my tutorials and the like.

There are several options available out there, but I purchased the Photek Lateral Arm Extension based on reviews, and I can honestly say it is the best $70 I've spent on a piece of photo equipment in long time. It has quickly become invaluable to me.

The horizontal arm extends up to 38 inches, allowing me to get my camera, or webcam, right up to my painting, without having a cumbersome tripod in my way, or having to shoot over my shoulder at a weird angle. The balljoint head also allows you to shoot at absolutely any angle, including straight down like a copy camera, which has made doing book reviews and drawing videos SO much easier.

My biggest concern when selecting an arm was how much weight it could support. I've been looking to film more with my DSLR instead of a webcam, but once I put a decent lens on my camera, it's weight is more than most tripod arms can handle. This arm however has an internal counter weight, which means it can support even a hefty DSLR camera, at full extension, without fear of tipping. Though, if you're really going to be adding a lot of weight to it, I would highly suggest using a stone bag for added security.

The Photek arm is all-metal construction, and the ball-joint head is MUCH heftier than it comes across in photos. I honestly, can't say enough good things about this particular arm. It has exceeded my expectations is every way. If you're looking for a better way to film process videos, I highly recommend getting one... You won't regret it!


  1. That’s a nice alternative. Personally, I make do with a < 20$ solution to the problem (shooting video of my painting process): an adapter for my microphone stand. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001GWCC4I. Granted, I already had a mic stand, but if I hadn’t had one yet, I’d probably get one for my podcast mic anyhow.

    1. I debated using a mic stand boom arm, but there is no way it could support the weight of a large DSLR. I also found that most had limitations in the ability to adjust the angle. For a webcam or mic, I'm sure it's fine. But I'm reluctant to trust a mic stand with a $2000 camera.

  2. Ah, truedat. So far I only use my iPhone for video, since my DSLR is too old and doesn't do video. Hadn't thought of that.

  3. There’s another type of arm that is great, it’s basically an articulated arm (with a shoulder, elbow and wrist joint) that is controlled by one knob called a camera arm. there are different makers, but I bought/backed one via kickstarter called the Infinity Arm.
    It’s heavy duty and you can attach different ends to it - I have a camera clamp and an iPad holder attached to mine now, so I can use the iPad at the easel (mainly so I can have zoomable reference pics right there)

  4. Another option that frees up the floor space required by a tripod is a super clamp. It easily holds the weight of a pro digital camera and clamps securely to a wide range of shapes. For example, the edge of a bookshelf, desk or easel.

    It is also compatible with numerous accessories, including the very useful 6" extension arm linked below.

    I also use mine to hold lights. It is one of the most versatile, indispensable pieces of kit I own.

    Manfrotto Super Clamp

    6" Extension Arm


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