Construct a DIY T-Rex Stand for Macro Pictures

I do a good bit of macro images within the studio, for each clinical and inventive functions. I’ve used tripods, growth poles, and massive reproduction stands to get the digicam in shut. The setups have been steadily difficult, and I occasionally felt I used to be concentrating extra at the equipment than the {photograph}.

There are lots of macro and replica stands in the market, however I sought after to construct a greater one, the use of best off‐the‐shelf portions, at a aggressive value. I sought after it to be strong and feature attachment issues for staging and lighting fixtures. After a couple of iterations, I had a design I appreciated. After I added a few articulating palms, it gave the impression of a T‐Rex. So, that’s what I named it. And, given the stand makes use of T‐slot extrusions, the call turns out apt.

T‐Rex macro stand

The T‐Rex in Motion

I’ve used the stand for photographing tissue samples for veterinary pathology That is a picture of a bile duct in a sheep liver. The sphere of view is ready 1.4” (35 mm) vast.

Sheep bile duct

I want steady lighting fixtures for my macro paintings; I’ve used small LED panels, LitraTorches, or even small LED flashlights. I connect them with an umbrella mount or on an articulating arm the use of T‐nuts. I’ll write about my lighting fixtures ways in a long run publish.

You’ll be able to level maximum any small matter with this stand. I additionally use the stand after I’m now not doing macro paintings. A 35 mm lens can come up with a few 20” (50 cm) box of view. Occasionally I mount a ball head at the stand to get the digicam farther out from the vertical rail, and to let me alternate the perspective of the view. I’ve even used the stand to carry topics for pictures whilst the digicam used to be fixed on a tripod.


A concern for me is balance. I don’t need to concern about knocking over the setup whilst running. The ground horizontal rail is over 5 kilos (2.3 kg), protecting the middle of mass low. This permits the vertical rail to be 24” tall (610 mm), on a footprint that’s best 11” vast (280 mm). The stand is rock cast. If you wish to have extra peak you may desire a heavier or wider base.

Minimizing vibration is vital. As a result of I take advantage of steady lighting fixtures and apertures round ƒ/8, shutter speeds are gradual. So, after I position the digicam at the finish of a growth or lengthy publish, even a small quantity of vibration induces noticeable blur. The pressure and mass of the stand, plus the vibration-dampening ft, cross far in opposition to controlling vibration. Additionally, it’s now not imaginable to take away all vibration, so having your digicam and matter firmly hooked up lets them vibrate in sync.

Excessive Macro

I do a little excessive macro images, the use of microscope targets fixed at the digicam instead of the standard lenses. (I’ll write about that method in every other article.) It takes little or no vibration to break an excessive macro {photograph}, and the solidity of the T‐Rex is an important.

For excessive macro, I take advantage of the computer-controlled WeMacro rail to seize focal point stacks, and the Swebo LS001‐4w XY level to place the topic. I connect them to the T‐Rex the use of dovetail rails and clamps.

Stand arrange for excessive macro

I particularly revel in having the ability to mix creative and clinical images. I used the stand to seize this symbol of a honey bee’s eye. Sure, they truly have hairs rising out in their eyes. It used to be taken at a magnification of 11x; the topic is ready 1/8” (3 mm) throughout.

Honey bee eye


I primarily based the development on T‐slot aluminum extrusions. I connect dovetail rails to make it simple to regulate the peak of the digicam and transfer the topic. The stand is proven in its vertical configuration; the digicam could be located above the topic. The stand can also be reconfigured for horizontal use. Sliding T‐nuts within the slots of the stand permit lighting fixtures and dovetail rails to be hooked up.

I ordered the extrusions and connecting {hardware} from 80/20. There are different providers, however 80/20 has a complete catalog, and for each and every product they have got a video on find out how to use it. Their customer support has additionally been nice. (I don’t have any reference to 80/20 nor some other provider.) The fee for those portions, together with transport in the USA, is ready $250. Additionally they have identical portions in response to metric dimensions. The rubber ft, and {hardware} to glue them, got here from a ironmongery shop, and you’ll additionally get them from Amazon. See step 6 underneath.


You’ll desire a 3/16” hex key (also known as an Allen wrench) to tighten the bolts.

1. Get ready 90° plates

The use of 5 flange head bolts (#3330) for each and every plate, loosely connect 2 triple nuts (#3285) consistent with the determine underneath. Miss the center bolt in each and every of the ground triple nuts. Observe that the triple nuts have a flat aspect and a facet with rims across the holes; the flat aspects of the triple nuts must be towards the plates.

90° plates with bolts and triple nuts

2. Slide 90° plates onto horizontal rail

Slide the plates all of the means onto the edges of the horizontal rail, with the angled aspect going through the again finish of the rail. Don’t tighten the bolts but.

Slide 90° plates onto backside rail

3. Slide vertical rail onto 90° plates

Align the plates with the again of the horizontal rail, and slide the vertical rail down onto the plates. Tighten all bolts.

Slide vertical rail onto plates

4. Connect rear foot brackets

Insert two 1” bolts (#3118) and washers (#3260) into each and every of the double foot brackets (#4336).

Connect rear foot bracket

The ground bolt on each and every bracket is going into the empty holes at the backside of the plates, and screws into the triple nut already within the horizontal rail. The highest bolt is going during the plate and is held in position with the nut (#3278); make sure that the flat aspect of the nut is going through the plate. If the ground bolt doesn’t align smartly with the triple nut, you may wish to loosen the opposite backside bolts within the plate briefly.

5. Connect entrance foot brackets

Insert a 5/8” bolt (#3320) into each and every of the single-foot brackets (#4332), and loosely connect the T‐nut that got here with each and every bolt; make sure that the flat aspect of the nut is going through the bracket. Slide the brackets onto the edges of the bottom on the entrance and tighten.

Connect entrance foot brackets

6. Upload ft

I take advantage of 1½” diameter rubber air compressor ft. They lend a hand hose down vibration that would break your {photograph}. Additionally, they give protection to your paintings floor. The holes within the heart of the ft are sized for 1/4” bolts. Connect each and every foot to its bracket with:

  • 1/4‐20 thread button head cap screw (black seems tidier, if to be had)
  • Washing machine (once more, black if to be had)
  • 1/4‐20 thread nut

The ft and {hardware} can also be discovered on Amazon or at {hardware} shops. The duration of the cap screws is dependent upon the thickness of the ft. For the ft I purchased, one-inch screws have been a bit bit too lengthy, so I added 1¼” diameter fender washers.

Foot portions

Position the washing machine within the bracket after which drop the screw down during the washing machine, the ground of the bracket, the fender washing machine, and the foot. From beneath, within the recess within the foot, screw the nut onto the top of the screw. You may desire a socket wrench or pliers to carry the nut, along with the hex key for the screw, to get the meeting tightened.

Foot meeting

7. Upload sliding T‐nuts

The sliding T‐nuts (#13054) have compatibility into the T‐slots at the surfaces of the rails. They’re tapped with 1/4‐20 threaded holes for attaching equipment. Every has a spring-loaded ball bearing to carry it in position; this assists in keeping the unused ones from damn about. I typically put 3 within the heart slots for attaching dovetail rails and clamps and staging for the subject material. I put one in each and every aspect slot for positioning lighting fixtures. You’ll be able to even put them within the slots at the edges of the rails.

Sliding T‐nuts

8. Connect finish caps

Connect the top caps (#2046‐Undeniable) at the best of the vertical rail and at each and every finish of the horizontal rail. The top caps are hung on with friction have compatibility studs that cross into holes within the ends of the rails.

Finish cap

Dovetail Rail and Clamp

A dovetail rail makes it simple to regulate the peak of the digicam. Those rails have a dovetail cross-section, and you’ll get clamps that mean you can simply place a digicam anyplace alongside them. Those equipment can also be very expensive, however the Haoge and Sunwayfoto manufacturers, to be had on Amazon, are very good and slightly priced. They’re appropriate with Arca‐taste portions, and a few in their merchandise are about 1/3 the cost of related big-name manufacturers.

Double dovetail rail

Connect a Haoge 400mm twin dovetail rail (Haoge HQR‐400) onto the vertical a part of the stand. Twin (also known as double) rails have dovetail profiles on each the highest and backside, so you’ll clamp onto both face. Use two or 3 screws to glue the dovetail rail to sliding T‐nuts within the stand. By means of striking the highest floor of the dovetail rail towards the vertical stand rail, the screws will likely be underneath the skin, and now not intrude with the location of a clamp.

Dovetail rail hooked up to vertical stand rail

The dovetail rail comes with prevent screws. Use one on the backside to stay the digicam from by chance sliding off.

Prevent screw on dovetail rail

Use a double clamp (Sunwayfoto DDB‐53) to place the digicam at the dovetail rail. One set of jaws clamps onto the dovetail rail, and the opposite clamps onto a handy guide a rough unencumber plate at the backside of your digicam. You’ll be able to simply alter the site of the clamp at the dovetail rail, and thus set the peak of the digicam above your subject material.

Double clamp

In spite of everything, connect a handy guide a rough unencumber plate to the ground of the digicam…

…and also you’re executed.

Concerning the creator: David Garnick’s creative images is held in public, company, and personal collections. He collaborates with museums to create imagery for exhibitions, and produces, curates, and judges exhibitions of modern images. He additionally works with science labs to lend a hand them fortify and prolong their imaging functions. You’ll be able to view his weblog and a few of his paintings at This newsletter used to be additionally revealed right here.