Smartphone cameras are rapidly catching up with standard pocket cameras. Unless you are an avid or professional photographer, you will hardly miss any of the added features of a proper camera. The key advantage of a smartphone is that you can instantly share or sync your snapshots via the Internet. Too bad your old tripod isn’t compatible with your smartphone. Or is it?
Maybe one day smartphones will come with a compatible female thread adapter. In the meantime, it looks like you’re stuck with purchasing an adapter like the Glif. That is, unless you dare to build an adapter yourself. I searched the net for ideas and went to my local hardware store to get the supplies. What I came up with are three DIY tripod mounts that are very cheap, very easy to build, and quite sturdy on top of that.
The Super Simple DIY Smartphone Tripod Mount
This is the most simple DIY smartphone tripod model you can possibly build. These are your basic ingredients:
- two large binder clips
- 3 rubber bands
Attach the binder clips on opposite sides of the tripod base and see whether your smartphone fits in.
I have a pretty large phone. In case yours is smaller and doesn’t fit, even with the handles upright, you can also clip one binder clip onto the other.
Now fix a rubber band to the handles of the binder clips, something that will hold your phone in place. I used two rubber bands on each end to hold a third one that stretches across the tripod base. Make sure the central rubber band is crossed over at least once.
Then mount your smartphone and fix it with the rubber band. The result should look something like this:
Experience: I didn’t have to purchase any supplies, it was extremely easy to build, and the result was a very stable and versatile smartphone tripod mount. The only catch is that the camera lens isn’t centered over the tripod’s center, i.e. the pivot point. This can be a problem when taking videos. As you move or rotate the smartphone, the position of the camera lens will change awkwardly.
Verdict: Super easy, but the camera isn’t centered over the tripod’s pivot point.
This DIY project was inspired by a picture found on NewSchoolers.
The 1 Minute DIY Smartphone Tripod Mount
This is another super quick and easy DIY smartphone mount. Here is what you need:
- binder clip large enough to hold your phone
- duct tape
- 1/4 inch hex nut or wing nut or whatever nut fits your tripod screw thread
Take the binder clip and bend one of the handles in a 90° angle.
I taped the binder clip off with duct tape to soften the edges and to fix the bended handle to the clip. Otherwise the clip might top over while holding the smartphone. Then I screwed the clip to the tripod…
…and attached the smartphone.
Experience: It’s easy to build, but it’s not very practical and I’m not sure how healthy it is for the phone. The clip is easily strong enough to hold the phone in an upright and even in a tilted position. However, the clip either covers part of the screen or at least the Home button. Another reason I wasn’t overly happy with this setup is because I’m worried the clip squeezes the phone too hard. At least you can bring the camera lens very close to the pivot point.
Verdict: Easy to build, can be almost be centered over pivot point, but not extremely trustworthy.
This project was inspired by a video found on YouTube.
The Semi Professional DIY Smartphone Tripod Mount
Finally, the most time intensive, expensive, and hardest of all three; the one that made my visit to the hardware store worthwhile. Despite being somewhat more challenging, this tripod mount is still very much on the fast, cheap, and easy side of DIY projects. Let’s see what you need:
- steel angle with holes big enough to fit your tripod’s screw thread
- wing nut that fits your tripod’s screw thread
- cheap or spare phone case
- Velcro or Duct tape
I originally set out to glue a hex nut to the outside of t he steel angle. However, I ended up simplifying this project because my superglue wasn’t strong enough. Every time I tried to mount the angle on my tripod, the nut came off.
So instead of gluing the nut to the angle, place one of the steel angle’s holes over your tripod’s screw thread and fix it with a wing nut. Since I started out with a different idea, I only had a hex nut for this project, which was a little harder to screw on.
Now fix your phone with the back to the inside of the steel angle. You can either tape a spare phone case to the steel angle or use Velcro to use the case elsewhere, too. I went with Velcro.
Before I attached the phone to the steel angle, I made sure to align the camera lens with the pivot point on one axis at least. I marked the center of the lens on the case and aligned the mark with a matching hole in the steel angle.
And this is what the mounted phone looks like:
Experience: Since I expected to find a matching nut for my tripod screw thread, my first visit to the hardware store wasn’t successful. I had to return with alternative screw threads and buy a matching nut and steel angle. As mentioned above, the superglue approach didn’t work. But other than those initial issues, the project was straight forward and provided the most satisfying result of all three.
Verdict: If planned well, this is easy to build and provides the most professional result. With some tweaking (not shown above), you can even center the camera lens exactly over the pivot point.
This DIY smartphone mount was inspired by a video found on YouTube.
Tips For The Hardware Store Visit
If you decide to build one of the two models that depend on screwing something onto your tripod, be sure to bring the tripod or the screw thread with you to the hardware store. This is especially important if you won’t visit a North American hardware store.
Cameras and tripods typically have an inch-based Whitworth screw thread, rather than a metric ISO screw thread. This is great for readers in North America as you will easily find a matching 1/4 inch hex nut (or wing nut). In a European hardware store, however, you will be hard-pressed to find a matching nut for an inch-based screw thread.
Fortunately, my DIY smartphone tripod had an ISO screw thread (left) in a non-critical position which I could use to replace the original Whitworth one (right). At the hardware store, I got two matching M4 (inner diameter: 4mm) hex nuts. Alternatively, you could get any other screw and nut combination that fits through the base of your tripod. Note that unless you want to experiment with superglue, it must also fit through a hole in the steel angle.
Choose well, prepare well, be thorough, and an awesome DIY smartphone tripod mount for very little money will be yours in almost no time. For the home user, there is definitely no need to purchase a commercial product. You could even build the tripod yourself.
What is your excuse to not build one of these?