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DIY Focusing Rack for Macro Photography

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 9/20/2010

Need a focusing rack but don't want to buy one? Learn how to make your own DIY focusing rack for macro photography.

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    A focusing rack, also known as focusing rails, allows you move the camera in closer, but keep the same magnification. This can be very helpful, especially if you have found the perfect magnification. But, they can be very expensive to purchase, upwards of $100. However, you can make your own DIY focusing rack for macro photography. Here's how:

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    Want You Need

    • Bench Top Vise
    • 3/8 inch stud
    • Soldering tool or Adhesive glue

    First of all, you need to purchase a bench top vise. The bench top vise looks like a clamp that lies flat, and you manipulate this by turning the handle. This causes the vise to move back and forth. These are usually less than $20.

    Look for one that has steel construction. These are much sturdier than the plastic ones. It will lie flat, and it will hold you camera better.

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    How to Make The Rack

    Now, you need to adapt the bench top vise so that it will hold your camera. The moving section of the vise should be the camera carriage. A camera carriage is a horizontal platform on which the camera sits. It is usually raised so that the camera has a clear view of everything around it.

    But, you need something screw your camera into. You can purchase a screw that fits your camera perfectly and holds it steady. But, this can be tricky. Screws aren’t normally the best thing since they can be loose. This either means that your camera will be shaky on its pedestal, or it could fall off.

    So, you may do better using an old tripod. Your tripod head was specifically design to fit your camera, which means that it will screw in tight to your camera. You can either sacrifice an old tripod, or just buy a cheap one.

    Next, you need to figure out the exact center of the bench top vise. This will give you more range of motion and just make it easier to capture a 360 view of items. You may want to place your camera on the closed vise and make a mark in the center.

    You also need to purchase about a 3/8 inch stud. But, check the tripod head or quick release bracket that you plan on using to ensure that it fits. If it does, then you can start drilling.

    Drill a hole through the base of the vise and through the metal plate on the top. You may want to take apart the bench top vise to make it easier to drill. Make a hole large enough for the stud to fit through.

    Screw the drill into place. You may want to add some type of metal adhesive. Or, if you are good with tools, use a soldering tool around where the stud meets the metal of the bench top vise. This will provide for a more secure connection than just adhesive.

    Screw on either the tripod head or bracket, and add your camera.