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Inexpensive 12 Foot Tripods As An Alternative To Painters Pole

Published: 21/08/2014

12TripodI've had several readers point out this video on large construction tripods for use in photography and videography.

Giant tripods are very popular with real estate photographers but you have to lay out around $2K USD for a Gitzo carbon tripod with the extendable center section that will raise a  heavy DSLR and lens to about 14 feet, so when there is an alternative that does nearly the same thing for around $200 USD it gets some attention.

It turns out that construction people use giant tripods too... for laser levels and other similar uses. This video and accompanying page over at point out that there is apparently a tripod that will get your camera up to 12' for under $200 USD.

The problem is I can't find any of these tripods currently available on Amazon or Ebay. Apparently a lot of people would like to have one of these things. Even though they are currently not available on Amazon or Ebay I'm sure if you watch for one that they will be available again.

Is anyone already using one of these construction tripods?

Larry Lohrman

14 comments on “Inexpensive 12 Foot Tripods As An Alternative To Painters Pole”

  1. Have a look for surveyors tripods on ebay. Noticing one from "spectra" on there that looks very similar. Could also try searching for laser level tripods. Note I don't have one but am very interested in the idea.


  2. I use this as one of my lightstands:

    It's only 10' but it's VERY stiff and sturdy. I was considering trying to modify it for elevated shots. Just need to replace the top with a ball head, but not sure which fittings to try.

    If that works, then this could be another inexpensive option - manfrotto 15' with adjustable leg:

    It has a weird looking top to the head, not sure how it would work.

  3. There are some great ideas here....but you have to be keenly aware of how much weight any of these things are designed to hold. Though I would assume that anything designed for construction companies would be fairly sturdy.

    I haven't done much with elevated shots for two reasons. First, I couldn't afford the bucks to plunk down a lot for one of those large tripods. Second (true confessions) I have a phobia about heights. Could do it every once in a while, but every day? ACK!

    So thank you for posting this.

  4. There's always a catch so it's good that the tripod was less than $200. The little pan-tilt head he is using is a Senna Five Second Head and the catch is that it goes for more than $2000! Of course, if you are just doing real estate, the good old Bescor will no doubt suffice.

  5. I think I've posted this before, but here's what I use: A regular tripod (perhaps a little heavy duty is best), 2 Manfrotto Double Clamps, and a 16-20ft paint pole with a Kacey adapter. So that's 20ft, fairly light weight and stable, for around $300-$500. You clamp the double clamps to the center post of the tripod, one at the highest point, and one at the lowest, then clamp the paint pole to the other sides of the double clamps. That means the paint pole is just slightly off-center and you can use the tripod legs for leveling.

    I just started offering elevated AG property shots too, so I bought an ATV, and then welded a 2ft section of 2 1/2 thin-walled muffler pipe to a trailer hitch, and that goes right to the back of the ATV on it's ball, and then gets fastened to the rear rack of the ATV, with some degree of adjustment for unlevel ground. I put a 24" flagpole (Harbour Freight) inside that muffler pipe, it's a fairly tight fit. Now I can drive the ATV around the property, and it's pretty quick to stick the flagpole setup in place at each shooting location. I replaced the ball on top of the flagpole with a little flagpole_thread-to-1/4x20, with a little ballhead on it. I shot a 150 acre property with it last Saturday from quite a few vantage points. I got the ATV used, a 1986 Honda TX250, for $900. Runs great, but does look 20 years old. 🙂

  6. I use a 6 foot fiberglass ladder with a pool cleaning pool attached and and a 20 year old ball head to get me up to 14 feet. It's very sturdy cost less than $75.

  7. Look for "overhead high roller". They are a little more than 200 but can go higher, are quite stable, and have wheels which is awesome. It's what I use for 20 foot aerials and getting lights up high.

  8. @Floorcoach The trick is to be at whatever height keeps your verticals straight for the property in question. On a 10ft one-level house, that may only be 4-8ft, but on a 3 story house that is 30ft tall, it might be 20 ft. There are neighborhoods here where the backyard goes down into a gulley, and if your down in it to get the shot on a 25ft tall house, the total from the gulley to the rooftop might be 40ft+, and so the camera elevation might be 24ft or so to get a fairly good perspective on it. I had one that was located on a hill adjacent to a fairway... and fairway to roofline was 5 stories. It also helps you get good perspective on commercial buildings, or tall condos.

    Secondly, the higher elevations can allow you to do overviews of the neighborhood, showing how the property is located within it's neighborhood, and what the neighboring properties look like comparatively. That tells high-end buyers what to expect if they invest in that neighborhood, and it may help them envision their lifestyle (kids, pets, running & walking, etc) on that property. The realtor must decide is such shots help or hinder the sale of a property.

  9. @Kelvin

    I see. But how can you line the camera up if you are not able to see through the lens? Are you using some type of remote viewing device?

  10. @Floorcoach Two of the the cameras i use have built-in wifi (Canon 6D and Samsung NX300). I can see liveview on my iphone to line it up, and adjust the camera. With my Nikon D610, I use the Camranger, which does the same thing.

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