Alternatives For Attaching Flashes To Door Tops

May 18th, 2014

JustinClampIf you are a flash shooter, for small rooms you frequently want to put flashes on the top of doors. However, after the first time you drop a flash on the floor from the top of a door and break it, you start looking for ways to attached the flash to the door.

Last week a reader pointed out what at first appeared to be a very cool piece of gear. It’s a 6″ suction cup that’s designed for carrying glass around.

I purchased one and have been playing around with it for the last few days. This suction cup is will stick to almost any surface. Doors and even textured wall board. My concern was that the cup would deface the wall board or doors. Turns out that it is does make a black circle where ever you stick it. The black circle can easily be wiped off with a damp cloth but the fact that you have to clean the surface every where you use it makes it impractical for quickly attaching flashes to doors.

Over the years we’ve covered various alternatives for attaching flashes to doors, railings and other places. Here are some other approaches:

  • Manfrotto 175F-1 Clamp: This is one of my favorites because it easily clamps to the top of doors (if you are tall enough to attach it). It also easily attaches to a light stand. I always have one of these attached to one light stand. This clamp was the winner in a vote by readers on what the best clamp for attaching flashes to doors. You do have to be careful that you don’t make marks on the top of the door because the spring is strong.
  • Nasty Clamps: Many readers use nasty clamps.
  • DIY door top flash holder by Mark Cornwell: This is a very inexpensive approach and very easy to make.
  • Rich Baum’s DIY clamp: Rich’s post explains nicely what you want in a clamp… won’t harm the door and has a very nice inexpensive solution.

In summary, most readers like the Manfroto 175 clamp also known as the “Justin clamp” but if you are into DIY Rich’s little light hanger is a great solution.

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21 Responses to “Alternatives For Attaching Flashes To Door Tops”

  • At more than $60 for the Manfrotto 175F-1 Clamp, I’m thinking about adapting one of my $5 large claps. I’ve only knocked my flash off the top of a door once, though I am nervous each time I attempt the balancing act.

  • How about using a christmas wreath holder that easily hangs over the door?

  • 60$ for a simple clamp? this is nuts.

  • I bought a plastic door hanger from DollarTree, sawed of the hook, filed down that area to flatten it, glued a 1×1 inch of wood cut from a paint stirrer and drilled a 1/4 inch hole in it to attach a 1/4 x 1/2 inch flat head screw. I used Super Glue Fix-All, from DollarTree to glue it all together then I screwed the foot that came with the flash to it. Adjust the the screw before the glue sets up so the flash points to the direction you want it to. I made two of them in less than an hour. I’ve been using the hangers for five months with no problems and the spring tension of the plastic holds well.

  • Here’s one I made from ideas given out on the Flickr RE group:


  • I should elaborate by saying that it’s a bike hook purchased at the hardware store being used upside down with a cold shoe adapter purchased on eBay (china). Another person suggested bending the mounting flange a bit to get a better angle on the flash. Total cost was about $10. I bought several of the cold shoe adapters at one time to get a good price and better a shipping per piece rate.

  • Last January I made this after and I have to say it has been the best addition to my tool kit. I use it on doors, railings, kitchen cabinets and it also gives me a little bit of extra length and angle options when I have to reach a bit to bounce a light. It is awesome. The hook is available at a local home depot, add the shoe mount and you are in business.

  • @James – thanks for posting your bike hook hanger, I was looking for it in the forum but couldn’t find it. I want to make one of these.

  • The clamp I use the most was FREE and takes no time to build–it’s my hand. I almost never balance a flash on a door top anymore. Once in a while I have to for a bathroom shot, but over 90% of the time I just use my hand. Besides the obvious benefit in being free, it also gives me a ton of flexibility in deciding angle, distance, etc.

  • Or a little blue-tac to hold the flash on top of door? (Not sure what else it’s called in other parts of the world – the sticky, mouldable, reusable putty stuff, sometimes white)

  • I just use a light stand.

  • Timely post. Too funny, i just lost a flash to gravity last week. It was a Canon 580EX. As others have posted I too did a balancing act as I’ve done before, but this time forgot it was there and bumped the door it was balancing on by accident. When I brought it into Canon for repair they stated that they no longer service them due to the fact that they are now out of production and do not carry the parts anymore. In order to prevent this from happening again, I purchased two Lumipro clamps, substantially less expensive than the Bogen’s {love the quality of Bogen, but wanted to save some $$}. The Lumi’s are only $30 a piece from Midwest Photo. They are rock solid, well built and definitely do the job. However, they JUST fit on top of the doors. Especially in custom homes where the doors tend to be thicker. The issue with just fitting is that they have the ability to scratch the door when putting them on and taking them off. For this reason a Bogen super clamp is probably a better solution but takes more time to put on and off b/c it is a manual twist type clamp instead of a spring loaded clamp. p.s. Love the idea of a bike hanger type of set up….very smart DIY stuff! BTW, I’m purchasing one of these to replace my toasted flash,

  • p.p.s. Nasty clamps look cool but can’t see that it’s worth the $60. 🙂

  • I purchased an over the door clothes hanger and modified it slightly to hold a hot shot. Cost was probably $5, not counting the hot shoe. It simply slips over the door and leaves no marks. It also can easily be used the hand hold the flash if over the door won’t work. I got my hanger at OSH.

  • I did the same as Marc, and last week too. I was just about to buy two 600 EX flashes ($800 NZ each) but am VERY interested in those Neewer ones you mention. Do you know how well they perform?

  • I have been using the Manfrotto clamp for several years but don’t recall spending $60 for it. I keep a spare SB600 and optical shoe trigger attached to it. Not only for doors, but anyplace I want some secondary fill. It is small, and clamps anywhere. Another use I found was with portraits. Adding a snoot and clamping to the top rail of the background, makes an excellent hair light.

    Also, some small rooms, like baths, will skip the door all together as need something to trigger. Very easy to take my primary and hold the pole at an angle through the door, positioning it for light bounce. It is not like I have to hold a camera on a tripod which is pre-set before positioning the light.

  • @brian I’m poised to get one in the next couple of weeks. I’ll keep you posted and probably do a review on my blog. The cool thing about them is that they are Lithium Ion batteries, and according to the reviews are able to get 600 pops to the battery. They also have an optical slave and the less common 2.5mm mono plug {which to me isn’t that big a deal b/c of the optical slave}. That being I do put allot of stock in the Amazon reviews and they are pretty stellar. 30 reviews 4.5 stars. And for US$104 instead of $400 plus for a Canon speedlight its a bargain. The biggest selling points for me are the price point and the LI battery.

  • I just made a holder out of 1/8″ plywood, made two sizes, one for narrow doors and one for wider ones – no reason to pay $$$ for a clamp that may damage the door — and I use the base that comes with most flashes.

  • Hi – was interested in reading this thread because just yesterday a flash dropped from the top of a door onto a wood floor…. batteries from trigger and flash spewed out everywhere. Luckily, the Yongnuo trigger and flash still work. My reason for posting this though…. it sometimes hurts the heart to see a post which states something like “designed for guys that carry glass around”. There are lots of ladies reading these posts and we are some great photogs. Just a reminder that the ladies appreciate being included. 🙂

  • @Kate – I fixed the wording for you… didn’t mean to be sexist:)

  • Thank you Larry. Don’t want to be annoying – just want to be included. Thank you again.

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