How to Make a Bean Bag Camera Support for a Long Lens

Written by kathryn hatashita-lee
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How to Make a Bean Bag Camera Support for a Long Lens
A bean bag can prop a camera and reduce camera shake. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

A camera with a long lens will need sturdy support to prevent camera shake. A bean bag can prop a camera on top of a large rock or tree stump. Recycle a canvas grocery bag to provide a strong exterior that cushions your camera's dimensions. A sealable plastic bag or waterproof liner prevents the contents from bloating during wet conditions. Your homemade camera support will travel with you and help make those crisp images possible.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Canvas grocery bag or 2 pieces of sturdy fabric, approximately 10 inches x 15 inches
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Thread
  • Sewing needle or sewing machine
  • Plastic bag with zip closure
  • Dried beans
  • Dental floss, optional

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  1. 1

    Turn a canvas grocery bag inside out.

  2. 2

    Place this bag's front and back parallel to the flat surface.

  3. 3

    Place the camera and the long lens on top of the two layers.

  4. 4

    Cut a shape that will be at least as long and wide as the camera's dimensions. The shape can be a rectangle or an oval.

  5. 5

    Pin the two cut pieces of fabric right sides together.

  1. 1

    Hand sew or machine stitch with a straight stitch ½ inch from the raw edges. Stop sewing at least five inches from the starting stitch. This gap will make it easy to insert the beans.

  2. 2

    Knot and trim the loose threads to approximately ¼ inch. If you are machine stitching, backstitch over the last four or five stitches. Trim the threads close to the fabric.

  3. 3

    Turn the bag inside out so the right side will show.

  4. 4

    Fill the liner or sealable bag with the dried beans. Close the liner.

    How to Make a Bean Bag Camera Support for a Long Lens
    A plastic bag protects the beans during wet conditions. (Felipe Dupouy/Lifesize/Getty Images)
  5. 5

    Insert the filled liner into the bag's open side. If the liner cannot squeeze through the gap, remove some of the beans before inserting into bag.

  6. 6

    Fold the raw edges towards the bag's interior. This seam allowance can be approximately ½ inch wide.

  7. 7

    Hand sew or machine stitch close to the folded edge to close the gap.

Tips and warnings

  • Experiment with the volume of beans. If one large plastic liner is not available, try stuffing two smaller liner bags.
  • Test the camera on the bag before you go outside.
  • Wrap a length of cord or dental floss around the lens and the supporting bag to minimise movement or shifting. Cut the dental floss with the receptacle's tiny blade after the shoot.
  • Hand sew snaps or sturdy nylon fasteners to the open end of the bag. You can quickly remove the liner if you need to travel light or replace the contents.
  • Bean bags also help stabilise a tripod. Try using clean sand for filler.
  • You may need to remove the bag's filler before you travel overseas. Do not stuff the bag with banned materials.

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