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How To Make a DIY Beanbag "Tripod"

written by: •edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 9/28/2009

There are nearly as many solutions to camera shake as there are camera users. The "beanpod" with its inherent flexibility and stability is one of them, being easy to make and even easier to use. Here's an article on how to make your own.

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    Supplies

    Cloth bag. This should be large enough to comfortably sit your camera on. Sturdy, waterproof material is preferable, especially for use in the great outdoors. You don't want the construction to be very stiff: the bag should be as flexible as possible. Straps might be useful if you plan on moving with the beanbag. Make sure there are no sharp or hard parts that might damage your camera accidentally.

    Alternately, you can just make a bag from scratch with a piece of cloth.

    Filling. You need enough to fill the bag without overstuffing it. Beans are the most obvious choice of filling, but you can use virtually anything, from sand to rice.

    Scissors. Sharp enough to cut the material of the bag.

    Needle & strong thread. Don't worry, only very basic sewing is necessary, and it doesn't need to look pretty. If you have a sewing machine, that would facilitate the process somewhat if you're making your own bag from scratch. Your sewing job can be as elaborate or sloppy as your time and skills allow, as long as it's strong.

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    How to Make a Beanpod

    If you're making your own bag, first cut the cloth so that when it's folded and filled, it will create the shape of bag you'd like. Then sew along the edge until all but a small hole is sewn up. Then turn the bag inside out through the hole. Quick and easy bag!

    Depending on the make of the bag, you need to somehow open up a small hole in it through which you can pour the filling. This could be as simple as unzipping or undoing a flap. The smaller the hole, the less work you'll have to do later.

    Pour in enough of the filling so that, when closed, the bag is mostly full but so you can still change the shape of the bag somewhat.

    Close up any openings to the bag. If the bag has a zipper, you can use strong thread to tie them together. Otherwise, sew over the hole(s) until the seam does not give at all when tugged upon. If any leaks ever form during the use of this bag, then it's very easy to fix: just sew over it again, making sure to overlap with stronger sections of the seam.

    Creating straps, if the bag does not already have any, may make using the bag easier. Simply cut strips of cloth to whatever length and width you'd like your straps at, then sew them onto the bag, making sure to sew over the seam multiple times for greater strength.

    If you feel like making your beanbag a bit prettier, there are a number of things you can do. The material of the bag itself is the first consideration, so make sure it's a pattern and color you enjoy. Otherwise, you're only restricted by your own creativity: colorful scrap patches, paint, beads, anything you can think of. Just make sure that whatever you add onto your bag won't accidentally damage the camera.

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    Using Your Beanbag Tripod

    The beanbag tripod is best for use in the great outdoors. You place the beanbag down - on the ground, on a rock, or wherever - and it will conform to the shape of the surface. Then, you nestle your camera into the beanbag, adjusting it for that perfect angle. It's very easy to use, and provides a flexible, yet sturdy, surface from which to take pictures.

    No, the beanpod is not for everyone. Its size and unwieldy weight can make it more of a bother, especially for photographers who move quickly and don't want to depend on finding a surface at just the right height for the beanbag. However, it's easy enough to make that maybe it's worth giving a try.