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Pocket Pod
Posted By: Anton Magus, 07-13-2016, 03:51 PM

There are often times when low light or other circumstances force you to select a slow shutter speed. If you are shooting with a long lens then camera shake is a real danger and the chances of getting a blurred image are high.

A tripod is the best solution but they are not the easiest things to carry around if you are just out for a walk with your camera. Monopods are only marginally easier to carry.

The Pocket Pod is basically a loop of cord which attaches to the bottom of your camera. You put one of your feet through the bottom part of the loop and then pull the camera upward causing tension in the cord. This effectively stops all up and down movement of the camera and makes it far easier to control up and down swivelling. If you also hold the camera properly with your elbows pressed against your ribs, then forward and backward movement is also eliminated and left and right swivelling is minimised.

The problem with a simple loop of cord is that it is not adjustable in any way, so you can’t easily use it when seated on a bench or convenient rock. Also it only fits one user. The Pocket Pod solves those problems and still provides a simple, very low cost method of stabilising your camera.

THE PARTS


I chose to use a thin, braided nylon cord. Its soft and does not knot up in your pocket but most importantly it has a very low stretch. You need a length which reaches from your nose to the ground, passes under your foot, and reaches back to your nose again, plus about 6 inches.

You will also need
1 x 1/4 – 20 bolt with 2 nuts, 1 inch long.
2 x flat washers 5/8 inch outside diameter and 5/16 inch hole diameter. (16mm washers with a 9mm hole)
1 x PVC pipe 4 ½ inches (110mm) long and about 1/2 inch (13mm) diameter
1 x 20mm x 15mm small piece of scrap plastic with two holes drilled, one hole for the 1/4 – 20 bolt and one hole for the nylon cord.


ASSEMBLY


Step 1 Thread the nylon cord through the smaller hole in the plastic and knot the cord as shown above.





Step 2 Thread the loose end of the cord through both washers. Slide them to a position about 6 inches below the plastic plate you fastened in step 1. Now knot them into position on the cord as shown above.





Step 3 Thread the loose end of the nylon cord through the pipe.





Step 4 Take the loose end of the cord and thread it through the hole in both washers and pass it back through the hole in the bottom washer. This forms an effective non-slip buckle which allows easy adjustment.





Step 5 Finally fit the bolt through the hole in the plastic piece and thread a nut on to hold it, but loose enough to allow some swivelling. A second nut is threaded onto the bolt to act as a lock nut when the bolt is threaded into the tripod socket on your camera.


USAGE
When you need to steady your camera simply thread the bolt into the tripod socket and finger tighten the lock nut. Place your foot through the cord loop formed by the plastic pipe and tread down on it.

Now hold the camera to your eye and tension the cord by sliding it through the washer buckle. I find making it a little tighter than expected and then hunching my shoulders slightly to look through the viewfinder works best.

Maintain good tension on the cord and lock your elbows against your ribs, then press the shutter release.

The Pocked Pod is not perfect but it will maximise your chances of getting a usable image even with a slow shutter speed. I have obtained acceptably sharp images at 1/15 second and longer with a 135mm lens. Nevertheless I still recommend that you shoot multiple images and choose the best.

When you are done unscrew the bolt from the camera, scrunch the whole thing up and stick it in your pocket or camera bag. It weighs almost nothing and takes very little space.

Enjoy

Last edited by Anton Magus; 07-20-2016 at 08:33 AM.
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07-13-2016, 06:43 PM   #2
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I have seen this idea before and it is a great concept. If you have a shot of it being used that would be nice to add.

Regards,
07-13-2016, 07:01 PM   #3
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FYI and not a criticism. I can remember this basic design being recommended for "no tripods allowed" interior shots back in the 1950's when I was using an Asahi Pentax S with f2.2 preset Takumar [also had a 135mm f3.5 preset Takumar and a 250mm f5.6 preset Piesker(?might have been a Telemegor)],
07-16-2016, 07:54 AM   #4
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I don't think Anton is proposing this as a new idea..?

Some of the design elements are useful for working it out on the cheap :^)
I used tensioners for tent tie outs / guy lines because I had them.
The idea with the washers is good.

07-16-2016, 04:08 PM   #5
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Pocket pod

QuoteOriginally posted by Tan68 Quote
I don't think Anton is proposing this as a new idea..?
Certainly not a new idea, and not my idea either. Rather a memory of a useful accessory that seems to have been forgotten
My father used a commercially made version with a nice cord adjustment clip and a tripod screw with a large knurled metal head to shoot 8mm movies when I was just a kid.
He called it his pocket pod so maybe that was the commercial name, but my memory is sketchy on that.

I made one for my own use about a year ago. I found I was having huge difficulty shooting with a long lens, specially wildlife where the subject demands a small aperture for a large depth of field while the lighting then forces a slow shutter speed. As I get older I just can't hold the camera as still as I could 30 to 40 years ago! I find my pocket pod helps me a lot - shake reduction can only do so much!

QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
... I can remember this basic design being recommended for "no tripods allowed" interior shots back in the 1950's when I was using an Asahi Pentax S...
Still true today where museums, old churches and cathedrals and other buildings of interest are usually too crowded to allow practical use of a tripod and flash photography is normally prohibited. Again the lighting often forces quite long exposure times and the pocket pod can help get you a usable image.

I have also had some reasonable success shooting panos with the pocket pod when you want to rotate the camera around a fixed Y-axis. Its not as good as a tripod but better than normal hand-held.

Since I started using my pocket pod I have had a lot of photographers ask me about it and where to buy one. It was because of this interest that I posted these instructions on how to make your own.
I specifically made it from items you could usually find in a home workshop and make without any special skills. Its not pretty but it works, its easy to carry and its really low cost

Hopefully people will make and use one, derive benefit from it and will post their own improvements to the design.
07-27-2016, 12:31 PM   #6
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There's a number of refinements and situational variations possible on this theme. Supporting or suspending something from a single point allows movement in all but one axis; but double or triple the suspension points and it adds significant restraint (OK, and additional inconvenience too).

For instance, consider making the cord long enough to attach to BOTH neck strap lugs while pinned under one foot. Really, it does make a noticeable difference. Or go long enough to extend that baseline by standing on the cord with both feet. That effectively adds three more stability points.

If the situation allows, try attaching the cord 'legs' ABOVE the camera (a limb, railing, eve overhang) for an inverted bi- or tri-pod effect. A third 'tripod leg' isn't useful though unless you devise a third, separate attachment point on the camera, but then it can be very stable. Using a bellows/focusing rack or flash extender arm is one solution for a third attach point.

Using both neck strap lugs is the single biggest enhancement (limits tilt freedom). Avoiding a single pivot point in the cord is also most useful.

I've used cords suspended from above in favorite nature photo locations for many years. With a little thought they can even serve as poor-man's gimbal mounts.

A short 1/4" x 20 thread eye bolt and snap link makes a quick disconnect fitting.

And don't overlook the neck strap as a handy tension/suspension cord. There's lots of things you can pin, snag, hang it on. Even hooking it to your belt or a chair arm can be useful.
07-27-2016, 03:06 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pacerr Quote
...consider making the cord long enough to attach to BOTH neck strap lugs while pinned under one foot. Really, it does make a noticeable difference.
Thanks for the suggestions. Attaching the cord to the neck strap lugs sound definitely worth trying.
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