My homemade tripod leg pads
worked fine until I added a 500mm lens to my collection. With the super telephoto
attached, the heavier load was no longer the least bit comfortable on my collar bone.
In fact, it was downright painful. I had seen a shoulder pad item online (Birds As
Art web site link - Shoulder
Saver Tripod Pad) but it appeared to be unnecessarily large for the purpose.
It also seemed to be hanging in the way when not in use. Quite frankly, it looks
just like the spongy rubber seat pads you find in a hunting/sporting supply that
you can put on a bench, stool or other hard seat to cushion your rump when camping
True to my nature, I decided
to try making a better one for myself. I came up with a design for a smaller pad
that stays on the tripod leg, but can easily be slipped off if desired. It forms
around the leg to put padding next to your neck, as well as on the collar bone, and
it can be turned either for the right or left shoulder. You can slip it up or down
on the tripod leg to best suit your balance point. It's smaller, doesn't get in the
way, and is very comfortable. Making one requires only a piece of material, a piece
of foam and some sewing ability.
is constructed from a scrap piece of dense
gray foam, part of the leftover shipping padding
around a computer hard drive I bought some time back (I
frequently save such bits and pieces of this sort of foam
for my projects whenever I find it in product packaging
or shipping boxes). The foam piece I used was 8 inches
square and one inch thick. An 8x10 or 10x10 would do nicely
as well, but you probably would not want to make one larger
than that. Thicker foam may or may not work well, depending
on the foam density (softness). My foam was firm, but
not hard. Had it been thicker, it would not have formed
around the leg very well. Spongier foam could be from
1-1/2 to 2 inches thick and still work okay if its soft
enough. If it's more than 1-1/2 inches thick,
I recommend sewing the covering as if the foam is only
1-1/2 inches thick and then compressing the foam when
you stuff it into the cover.
Look at the photos on the right and below, and refer
to this diagram as you follow along with these
STEP ONE: I used
a piece of material about 10x26 inches to begin with.
Yours may be different depending on the dimensions of
your foam piece.
STEP TWO: I folded
it in half to make it 10x13, with the outside pattern
(front of the material) on the inside (wrong side out).
STEP THREE: Then
I stitched along the two long sides. That left one end
folded over and the other end open.
STEP FOUR: I then
turned this "pocket" I'd made right side out and stuffed
the foam piece inside until it hit bottom on the folded
STEP FIVE: Next I
sealed the foam inside the "pocket" by stitching it snuggly
along the open edge next to the foam. On the open end
of the flap I turned the edges inside about a quarter
inch and stitched across the end to hem and close the
remaining open end. This gave me a cloth covered foam
pad with a cloth flap on one end.
STEP SIX: Next,
the end of the flap is sewn to the foam covering about
1/3 to 2/5 of the way from the far end of the foam. This
forms a loop or tube that will slip over the tripod leg.
At this point it will probably be too loose-fitting on
the leg, but remember that you must account for the leg
locks, since the pad must slip over them as well. The
foam padding will compress as you slip the pad over the
leg locks, and then expand again to fit more snuggly over
the leg tubing.
STEP SEVEN: Now you
need to adjust the size of the loop to just slip over
the leg locks while the foam is being compressed as you
slip it on. To do this, slip the pad onto a tripod leg
so it is centered over one of the leg locks where the
fit will be tightest. Pinch up the fabric of the flap
so the foam is a little compressed and hold this while
you test the fit, sliding it back and forth over the leg
lock. When you think you have it fairly snug, pin the
fold together and then stitch all the way across the flap
to create a tab the width of the pinned area as
shown in this photo. Now test the fit again. If
you need to make it a little tighter still, then repeat
step seven and sew another stitch beside the first stitch,
perhaps a quarter inch or so over from the first stitch.
You can do this as many times as necessary, taking up
more and more material into the tab until the pad will
just manage to slip over the leg locks. When done properly,
the foam will compress just enough to get the pad over
the leg lock and then spring out once it's past the leg
lock to fit snuggly to the leg tubing.
you could add some elastic to the flap to give it additional
"snugging power" to tighten against the tripod leg, though
I didn't need to do this. The rubber grips on my tripod
legs have a pebbly textured surface which provides enough
friction to grip the pad covering and keep it from slipping
down from its own weight, yet it is easily adjusted by
hand to position it as needed. When the legs are collapsed
together to carry over the shoulder, they tend to squeeze
the cloth flap and hold it in place while walking, even
though you might shift the tripod on your shoulder from
time to time. The photo
at left shows how the padding around the leg fits
to your neck for extra comfort. This pad certainly feels
better than the original leg pads when I have the big
lens and gimbal head on the tripod. It really does make
you carry your heavy super-telephoto lens on a tripod
with no center column, here is another pad and a much
safer and more comfortable
might want to also look at this information on other camera
supports, including basic
beanbags, the Butterfly
Beanbag, and the Flying Saucer Ball Head.