The One Tool Every Photographer Should Be An Expert In

Great photographers need to be excellent problems solvers that can rig up anything. Getting lights into tight spots or building new sets in tight quarters are just a few examples of what a photographer is faced with on a daily basis. When you are running a team of people, working with clients on set, or doing a test shoot by yourself, you will always have a new idea or inspiration that challenges you to light something differently. The Master Clamp is the tool to help you rig it up and not look like a fool in the process.

The Master Clamp, or Super Clamp, is by no means anything new to the photography industry. It's a widely used grip tool used on set of just about every production both film and still. It's also a tool that not enough photographers utilize or may even know about, especially if you are new to the industry. In this video, Rob Grimm of PRO Photo and PRO EDU shows us just a few ways to utilize the tool that make life easier on the photographer. In our studio at PRO EDU, we have a bin of 20 of these clamps with studs to match from a company called Tether Tools. On any given production we are using these clamps to securely build sweeps that cannot be knocked over, rig multiple lights on any given stand, hide cameras in tight spots for BTS shots, hide iPhones in tight spots, flags, go pros, diffusion panels, and just about everything in between. They are absolutely essential to helping you achieve your vision and keep the people on set creative, productive, and safe from falling objects. When the clock is ticking, the last thing you want to do is fumble around with lights or gear trying to rig something up. 

These clamps will set you back anywhere from $25-40 and typically come with a stud and a wedge insert. While made by a variety of companies, especially cheap knock off companies, it's wise to invest a few dollars more into a quality product with sturdy components. These devices will undergo quite a bit of stress over the lifespan so invest in a company with a solid reputation and quality products. In doing so you may have the same clamps for your entire career. 

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19 Comments

Ralph Berrett's picture

I have about 1/2 dozen of those clamps, very useful.

olivier borgognon's picture

great tether tools sales pitch (and useful knowledge for those who don't know the clamps).

albeit the tether tools clamp is double the price of a generic impact one from B&H or 7-9$ more expensive than the manfrotto equivalent, it's an invaluable tool. i have a couple and they serve me well in the studio for sure.

Gary Winchester Martin's picture

Wasn't meant to be a pitch as this wasn't a sponsored Ad. We will always, though, stand behind a product we've been using for awhile and have had great success with. We also have some old Manfrotto super clamps from probably 10 years ago and they still work great.

olivier borgognon's picture

@Gary Martin. I understand, it was a bit of a pun, as tether tools are rather new on the market providing something that has been going around for a while.

I totally follow the fact that it's whats being used by you guys and whatever the name, the actual system of the clamp is an absolute masterpiece and your tips on using them will make newcomers very happy in discovering the versatility of the clamps.

Sorry for my third degree sense of humour as i don't consider myself as a "moaner" on the posts usually :D

I don't think it was really meant as a Tether Tools pitch (I got the impression that is the equipment they use). However, I do give points off for calling them Master Clamps. That is a proprietary Tether Tools name. They are otherwise known as Super Clamps by every other company that makes them.

olivier borgognon's picture

yep, was more of my silly third degree sense of humour which didn't pass as expected. :)

I guess it's an example of Poe's Law— too much like actual whiners in the comments section . :-)

I actually prefer the super clamps (also known as mafer clamp) by Matthews. Much more solid than the Manfrotto ones and the handles/knobs are more sturdy and easier to use because they are the C-stand style knobs. Manfrotto clamps has that one long stem that feels like it'll break sooner or later.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/139560-REG/Matthews_B540004_Super_...

Tony Roslund's picture

I do like the knobs on the Matthews clamps!

David Apeji's picture

Sturdier than the Manfrotto ones? How so? I use the Manfrottos and couldn't for the life of me figure out how to destroy one of them if I wanted to.

Chet Meyerson's picture

And what make the Tether Tools clamp unique as compared to a Manfrotto Super Clamp? Seems like a nice sales pitch for Tether Tools.

Gary Winchester Martin's picture

Nothing Chet. They both make great clamps at similar prices. I've used both and consider them to be rather interchangeable. I would just watch out for any brands that are at prices "too good to be true." These never last as long.

Anonymous's picture

For me is just a advert .....

Andreas Feustel's picture

Hm. I’ve been waiting for some new information in this video and it took a while until I noticed that it is an ad because of the new name for a Super Clamp. But it was like somebody is explaining how I have to put some LEGO bricks together. The most useful information was that even “Master Clamps” fit on a Manfrotto AutoPole. ;-)
I’m using Manfrotto Super Clamps mixed with the generic ones from Calumet since years and none of them died. So I really don’t need a modification (it will probably not be available in Germany anyway) or a new name here.

For lighter items the ebay ones are a bargain http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Articulating-Magic-Friction-Arm-Large-Super-Cl... they also have the articulating arm http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/300974555008?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=... I bought four of the clamps and the quality is good they are roughly half the size of the Manfrotto ones.

John Skinner's picture

Been using these for years for remote cameras in sports venues. Behind the glass on basketball, nets on soccer frames, team exit tunnels, penalty boxes, catwalk views looking straight down, all used in conjunction with Pocket Wizards for triggering. Opps, and the Manfrotto magic arms attached too!

Tony Roslund's picture

That beer in the background looks good. What were you saying about clamps?

Gary Winchester Martin's picture

You win for finding the Where's Waldo of Beer

I get it looks like an ad pitch but as soon as someone looks for grip gear they'll realise brand doesn't matter. I use Kupo c-stands and assorted grip gear but it it is the same across the brand spectrum. The clamps like that with hex stud receiver are best as you can put a baby snap pin in there and mount monoblocks on, threaded screws to put tripod head on etc etc. Sooo versatile.