For those photographers who do most of their work on the move, finding light-weight equipment that can really adapt to different situations is a tall order. Sometimes, even the most compact tripod or light stand still won’t fit into spaces or stay out of the way. The gratuitously named Nasty Clamps aim to amend that situation with their attach-anywhere attitude.
Once you get past the crazy name, you’ll begin to see the appeal of the Nasty Clamps. Right off the bat, you'll see that the clamp itself is just an industrial strength construction-grade clamp that you will find at any hardware store. Many of us have turned to this type of grip equipment for a variety of needs because they're so well suited to a wide range of tasks. Nasty Clamp has expanded upon that usefulness by adding a flexing arm.
As far as build, what you see is what you get. The clamp itself is tough as tough can imagine, and the arms are light weight and pretty much indestructible. Well, since they are made of a heavy duty plastic, let me amend that statement: they are pretty much indestructible under normal everyday use by most any photographer. I could probably destroy them if I hit them with a sledgehammer, but that kind of goes for just about anything.
The finished product weighs basically nothing and can be used for numerous purposes. You can still clamp curtains closed while on location, but now you can also mount a camera, speedlight or even a flag anywhere the clamp can get a grip.
You can buy arm extension pieces to really give the Nasty Clamp some range, but the longer you make the arm the less weight it can support. At it’s default length, most standard equipment that mounts to a 1/4-20 inch stud will hold strong, but any extensions make it so that you will want to keep it under one pound else risk the mounted gear listing down after mounting.
The main benefit of the Nasty Clamp is its ability to get lighting equipment in almost any bizarre location previously unavailable to you. A railing? Sure. A door? Why not? The side of a table? A church pew? A book shelf? Absolutely. The clamp will grab onto all of them. This can be exceedingly useful for wedding or event photographers who may want to keep light stands off the ground and out of the way of clumsy attendees (or clients).
Perhaps my most favorite accessory for the Nasty Clamp is their shoe-mount adapter. You know, the little metal piece that holds your speedlight in place. I’m sure you’ve come across several examples of these as nearly every lighting manufacturer has their own iteration of the little metal adapter. These range in quality from generally acceptable (those with a spring-mounted slider that holds the foot of the speedlight) to downright awful (a little metal screw holding the speedlight in place). See the Nasty Clamp iteration below compared to two other market options. The Nasty Clamp version is in the middle.
Most of the time these adapters are cheap and forgettable, but the Nasty Clamp version is tough and well designed. It looks very similar to others out there, but it's smoother and easier to use. It takes the spring-mounted slider concept and beefs up the finger screw, which often is tiny and easily strips out. It feels more solid and is at the top of the list in terms of the best quality shoe mount adapter I’ve seen. This adapter screws on to the Nasty Clamp’s extender arm, letting you mount a speedlight at basically any angle once you’ve clamped to a surface. You can also use it on light stands when shooting with an umbrella. I love multitaskers.
You can get the basic clamp for $44, which definitely is not bargain basement price. They are well made, and the price reflects that. Nasty Clamps also are not part of a giant hulking business machine, able to churn out thousands and keep prices low. It's one dude and a few staffers pursuing a mission. Supporting that mission comes with a price, but I'm willing to say that if you could see yourself using these, they're worth it.
What I liked:
Mounts lighting equipment in previously unreachable spaces
Great build quality
High-quality shoe-mount adapter
What could use improvement:
Struggles to clamp to rounded surfaces
Extra extended arms have difficulty with weight
Nasty Clamps aren’t perfect, but they’re really good at providing another option for mounting equipment while on the go. Wedding and event photographers will find a lot to love in the Nasty Clamp which will give them options they simply did not have before. The Nasty Clamp is still just a clamp, which means it does double or triple duty. You can’t use a tripod or light stand to keep curtains, reflectors or flags in place, but the Nasty Clamp can. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it replaces anything in your bag, but it does expand the possibilities and in the end, that is more important to me. Check out all the clamps and accessories at the Nasty Clamp online store or grab the original at B&H.