Learn how to make your very own overhead camera mount, an affordable option for all of your overhead photography needs!
As a craft/DIY blogger, I need to be able to take photos and videos at a variety of angles. And sometimes that means being able to take photos and videos from above. But without four hands, two to hold the camera and two to do the project or demonstrate the technique, it’s almost impossible. Also, trying to hold the camera level and still while trying to get the perfect overhead shot can be a challenge with a larger camera.
So as I set upon this journey toward fabulous photos and videos via overhead camera mount (on a limited budget, as usual!), I figured I would share what my husband and I came up with. Because, as fellow crafty people, you may also get some use out of it.
Whether you’re making videos, also have a blog, are selling things you make, or any other reason you may want to take pictures overhead, this is a great, budget-friendly project that will surely help out your photography.
- Three 5-ft lengths of ½-inch electrical conduit (also known as EMT (electrical metallic tube)
- Two strips of ½-inch plywood 27 inches by 2.5 inches**
- One piece of ½-inch plywood 2.5 inches by 4.5 inches**
- Two EMT inside corner pull elbow
- Five ½-inch EMT two-hole straps
- Four #10 washers
- One ¼-inch-20 TPI x 1-inch hex bolt
- Four ¼-inch by 1 ¼-inch washers**
- Ten #10-24 TPI x 1 ½-inch round-head combination machine screws
- Ten #10-24 TPI machine screw nuts
- Tube cutter
- Impact driver (optional)
- 3/16-inch drill bit
- Phillips-head screwdriver
- Palm sander (or sandpaper)
Now, before undertaking this project, I did some research into making overhead camera mounts, and there are several ways to do this. Some involve a C-Stand and balancing with sandbags, others involve PVC pipe. But frankly, while these other methods might work for smaller cameras, I wanted something that would hold my DSLR camera (you know, my baby!) securely and also provide for ample room to work beneath the camera.
This is why we decided on EMT for our principal material. Not only is EMT strong, it is quite reasonably priced and easy to work with. It’s also lightweight, so I can move this stand by myself easily.
Designing your Overhead Camera Mount:
This overhead camera mount design is super customizable. You can make it any size at all to fit your needs. I made mine to fit over my dining room table because that’s usually where I work. And like I said, I wanted something that gives plenty of room to work beneath. The final dimensions of my overhead camera mount ended up being 39 inches tall and 54 inches across.
Remember to factor in your camera and lens into how tall you want your design to be. You don’t want to build something that is going to end up causing you to have photos that are more or less zoomed in than you would like. So do some experimentation with your camera and figure out what works for the type of photography that you’re doing.
Putting your Overhead Camera Mount Together:
Using the tube cutter, cut your EMT to your desired sizes.
The tube cutter is much easier to use than I anticipated. This video on How to Use a Tubing Cutter is a nice, short, straightforward tutorial on how to use the tool.
Prepare your wood feet from the two strips of plywood. Sand down the edges. And in the center of each wood foot, predrill the holes to match up to two of the two-hole straps.
Clip the two-hole straps onto the pipe. Install a #10 washer on each of four #10-24 TPI x 1 ½-inch round-head screws and insert them into the predrilled holes on the wood foot, as shown in the photo below. The heads of the bolts will be on the side of the wood with the straps.
On the backside of the wood feet, install a #10 washer on the two bottom screws. And on the top two screws, install ¼-inch by 1 ¼-inch washers**. On all four screws, finish off with a #10-24 TPI x 1 ½-inch screw nut.
Tighten the screw nuts on the wood feet by holding the nut with a wrench and using a screwdriver to tighten the screws. An impact driver can help expedite the process, if you have one.
Now that you have the two legs taken care of, all that needs to be done to complete the frame is attach the cross bar. Put one leg and the cross bar into each elbow until the EMT is fully seated and tighten the screws on the ends of the elbows, which will be sticking out when you purchase them.
On one side of the wood piece that will hold your camera, in the center, predrill the holes to match up to one of the two-hole straps**. An inch and half below the hole closest to the center of the wood, drill a third hole for the bolt that will mount your camera.
Clip the two-hole strap onto the pipe. Insert two #10-24 TPI x 1 ½-inch round-head screws into the predrilled holes and through the two-hole strap, as shown in the photo below. The heads of the bolts will be on the side of the wood opposite the straps.
Secure each of the two screws with a #10-24 TPI x 1 ½-inch screw nut. Again, tighten the screw nuts on the wood by holding the nut with a wrench and using a screwdriver to tighten the screws. As before, an impact driver can help expedite the process, if you have one.
In the third hole, insert the bolt for your camera. Most cameras will fit a ¼-inch-20 TPI-type bolt. We used a 1-inch long bolt. You will want to make sure that you use a bolt that is compatible with your specific camera, however.
- With regard to the four ¼-inch by 1 ¼-inch washers, we used these in an effort to reduce the compression on the wood, but it’s really not necessary. These can be substituted with four more #10 washers.
- At first, we thought we might have wanted to use two two-hole straps on the camera mount part, but for alignment reasons, it worked out better for us to use just one two-hole strap. And the camera is plenty secure on there.
- Regarding the wood we used, we just used some scraps that we had around the house. Really, anything that’s long enough and thick enough to give some support should work.
Go Forth and Photograph!
This overhead camera mount is a great, inexpensive way to enhance your photography game! I can’t wait to use it to bring you guys even more awesome projects!