All hail the Manfrotto Super Clamp
We never shall forsake it,
It grips your bits and never splits
And you'll never ever break it.
They used to say the key to the Universe was 42*...this may be, but the key to the photographic Universe is 035.
035 is the model number for the Manfrotto Super Clamp - the single most useful mechanical device in any photographic studio. Forget the camera, forget the lights, forget the model and the makeup - all you need are enough 035 Super Clamps and you can create the world.
Now Manfrotto are a funny company - very innovative in many ways. They make changes every year to the tripods they sell, and add or remove fashionable features and styling - rather like Ferrari and FIAT with cars. As Manfrotto are Italian as well, perhaps it is in the blood. Any road, there is a steady current of good sense under the flash and this design philosophy has ensured the success of the 035.
Basically, It is a set of jaws that grasp a round pipe, square timber or metal tube, or flat board and then invites you to plug in or bolt on the rest of the studio. I do mean the rest...I have successfully attached lights, cameras, flats, backdrop holders, boom arms, umbrellas, and an f-86 Sabre Jet fighter plane to a 035 and nothing has crashed yet.
The big jaw can grasp a round or square strut. It can be modified with a small plastic triangle in the jaw - this is included with the clamp - to grasp a plank or a table edge.
There is a socket made to take further Manfrotto accessories including stand-off arms, 1/2 inch spigots for lights, and curved holders for backdrop poles.
There are 5-count-em, 5 - 1/4 inch threaded sockets for attaching anything else. I have bolted lots of things to these using standard bits from Mr. Bunnings and as we are dealing with pressure-cast aluminium the thing is sturdy.
You can even back two 035's together and bolt up a double super clamp that will deal with the intersection of two major structural members. Set building is where this comes in - rather like the scaffolding sets you see workers on building sites using. BTW it is considered unfair to undo scaffolding clamps form building sites, particularly if there are brickies up on them already...
So - provided Manfrotto do not go all stylish and exotic and turbo-charge the 035 clamp, we should all be able to make our studios work. I'm good - I've got 9 of them already.
* only if you were a member of the Royal Highland Regiment.