The Super Clamp is a highly useful, extremely versatile tool that almost every photographer could benefit by having at his/her disposal. Situations where a super clamp can be pressed into service are as varied as they are endless.
This piece of kit does not work alone. While extremely useful, the super clamp by itself is nearly worthless. Yes, you can squeeze small items together in the clamp's jaw, but unless a very strong grip is required, a simple spring clamp often makes more sense for this task.
When used with various add-on components, the super clamp can support lighting and/or camera equipment by securely clamping onto poles or flat surfaces ranging from 2.16" (54.9mm) down to roughly .5" (12mm). Key to the super clamp's versatility is its locking 5/8" hexagonal female receiver, 5/8" baby stud (usually included), 1/4"-20 female threads and included furniture wedge.
The 5/8" baby stud fits into the locking 5/8" receiver and allows for the attachment of any baby stud-compatible lighting tool (like an umbrella swivel) or any platform that can utilize the stud's 1/4"-20 male threads.
The super clamp's top side features 1/4"-20 female threads which can be used to attach a wide range of support accessories, including a quick release clamp used for camera support. Though with a limited range of motion, a super clamp fitted with a quick release clamp makes a small, inexpensive urban support solution for timelapse and/or long exposures.
The supplied furniture wedge fits into the right-angle side of the clamp and allows for the device to be reliably clamped to flat surfaces in addition to tubular ones This wedge is designed to be stored underneath the 5/8" baby stud's tension screw (snaps into the threads), making it easily accessible when needed (and harder to lose).
Rubber jaw surfaces help avoid slippage and damage to the clamping surfaces, but care must be taken to not overtighten super clamps as they clamp down so tightly that compression damage can be caused. The rubber jaw surfaces are replaceable, but I've never needed to replace any of mine.
Super clamps are produced by a variety of manufacturers with little variation between the different quality name brands, all featuring solid metal construction. Some clamps feature a T-handle for providing clamping tension while others employ a ratcheting handle. The T-handle design takes up less space and is easier to pack than its ratcheting handle counterpart. Other than the type of clamping handle preferred, price will likely be the biggest factor in influencing one's brand of choice. The Manfrotto 635 Quick Action Super Clamp, with its quick release feature, is one of my favorites. A spring-loaded button disengages the screw, allowing the clamp to be immediately opened or closed to the desired position. Note that this model does not come with the stud included.
I have nearly a dozen super clamps in various stages of use/readiness throughout the studio and have been using them longer than this site has been around (a very long time). Once you have a few of these in your kit, you will find more and more ways for super clamps to make your life easier and your photography better.
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Where you buy your gear matters. You expect to get what you ordered, and you want to pay a low price for it. The retailers I recommend below are the ones I trust for my purchases. Get your Super Clamp now from:B&H Photo