Today we have an unconventional accessory for you, one we had a chance to review over the past few weeks (and – spoiler alert – utterly enjoy). This accessory is called Plamp II and it is a flexible clamp designed to hold delicate objects such as flowers.
Wimberley is a well known American photography accessory manufacturer from Virginia which some of you might recognize from their professional gimbals line. As it happens the company also makes a few other accessories including the Plamp II clamp (yes, it is an improved second generation – hence the II). The video above is a summery of our experience with this clamp.
The Plamp II is a simple enough unit – it is basically two clamps connected by a thick hard & flexible plastic gooseneck.
The lower clamp is a rather small a-clamp made from hard plastic. It can be used to hold onto round or flat things effectively up to about 3cm/1.1 inches or so thick.
The main part is a 45cm/17 inch hard plastic flexible gooseneck which has quite good holding power (but be realistic – this is not going to hold any serious weight and is not deigned for that type of use).
The last part is the main clamp. It has a very interesting design which includes 3 different areas – the first is a rod holder (for holding a an accessory rod+clamp – more on that below), foam holder (for a firm grip of very thin objects with no damage) and a special notch (which is maybe the most important part – we shall talk about it more below).
The general build quality is very good, the gooseneck is solid and compared to a low quality Chinese gooseneck that we got on e-bay to hold lighting accessories (which you can see in our video), the Plamp II is much better (although the e-bay one is made of metal and not plastic like the Plamp II).
The only drawback that we can see is the rubber band that holds the main clamp. We have no reason to think that it will break (it never did in our testing) but if it did – we are not sure if it is user replaceable and if not – it might be a problem – we will update you after talking to Wimberley).
The Plamp II holding a flower
Wimberley sells the Plamp II on its own and sells a number of additional accesories which you can buy to use with the Plamp II.
Maybe the most useful accessory is a kit which includes the stake and a tube (we actually got 2 tubes for our review and if you need to shoot taller flowers – we would recommend getting more than one). The stake sticks into the ground and the the tube allows you to create a makeshift strong stand which the Plamp II holds onto.
Vampires beware – the Plamp II stake
The second accessory is an extension for the gooseneck which adds another 30cm/12 inch (good for example if you are using your tripod leg as the basis for the Plamp II and shooting with a long macro lens). You can see how to attach it in this document (we didn’t really feel any need for it as the Plamp II was already long enough for us).
Use the tubes to extend the Plamp II from the ground
The third optional accessory is a short rod with another clamp (similar to the front clamp of the Plamp II). You can use it to reach a bit further away if you don’t have or don’t want to use a goosneck extender for example. We also didn’t find it to be particularly useful although maybe other photographers find other uses for it.
If you need a little extra “hand”
We love macro photography (just watch our super macro extensive article here on LensVid). One thing every experienced macro photography knows is that you will need to learn to improvise – especially ways to hold small items in a delicate way as well as lights in an easy, flexible way close to your subject.
Most experienced macro shooters create there own methods and solutions – some very simple – some extremely complex (and expensive). We also had a chance to improvise all sorts of solutions when we worked on our super macro project which took several months. All this makes us appreciate the effectiveness of the Plamp II even more.
When shooting flowers for example there are several issues – the main problem is wind – even very mild wind (sometimes wind you can’t even feel or see) can move a flower and make for an unsharp image. The Plamp II special notch on the inside of the top clamp is ideal for gripping onto the stem of a flower and holding it without any movement.
The Plamp II in action – just make sure it isn’t in the shot
You can do this in the studio where you will use the Plamp II mostly for adjusting the angle of the flower or outside where you will also need the Plamp II stake and tube (or two if you need more hight). We discovered that for anything to do with flowers the Plamp II is simply a life saver – one thing to keep in mind – if you are not careful or you are shooting a very small flower – it might appear in the final photo (so choose a good angle and watch what you are shooting).
Shooting insects on flowers is basically the same story (just more interesting if you ask us) and here again the Plamp was extremely useful for holding the flower (just keep in mind that if the insect moves the Plamp II is not going to stop it).
Moving into other uses – holding reflectors and diffusers is an interesting topic. Initially we were quite sceptic about the ability of the Plamp II to hold these items – not because the gooseneck isn’t strong enough but because we felt that the top clamp is not deigned for that use (you can see this in the video).
However we did some more digging up and read what Wimberley has to say on the clamp and discovered that the back groove in the top clamp is actually designed to hold diffusers and reflectors – these devices have a metal ring around a flexible fabric. The groove holds this ring strongly and although the clamp might not close down all the way when used in this way (which is why we initially though that it was not deigned for this use) it does hold even pretty big reflectors (although we would probably not recommend anything above 12″ or maybe 22″ in any real world scenario).
So let’s sum up our short experience with the plamp II. We have used this flexible clamp for a few weeks now. It is very well built and the design of both the Plamp and the accessories is very simple and straight forward and it does exactly what it suppose to do – which is basically letting you hold a flower either outside or in the studio in a very flexible way with close to zero movement.
So who is the target audience for Plamp II? well, if you are serious about shooting flowers or insects outdoors, this is (in our opinion at least) a must have tool – it is well made and easy to carry and use – and although you can probably make a DIY solution that will do at least some of what the Plamp II does – we really see no point in doing so – as this unit is so well made and relatively affordable (we are talking about the Plamp II itself).
Can you also use it in the studio to hold reflectors, diffusers and other accessories – well, unlike what we said in the video – we discovered that you actually can – at least smaller ones although we still feel that Wimberley could have made the top clamp removable and create a larger – dedicated diffuser/reflector holder (for example one with two “hands” that can hold the diffuser in two separate places). This would have made the design of the Plamp 2 much more flexible (allowing for even more future updates/clamp types for specialized uses.
As for pricing – the plamp II on its own cost just under $45 and the one tube and a stake cost another $19 – Wimberley probably should create a lower priced kit of all the stuff that we shown you on the video for under $50 or $60 at most – but this is just our suggestion.
What we liked
- Very effective design for holding flowers.
- Good build quality.
- Heavy duty gooseneck.
- Nice set of accessories.
What we would improve
- Plamp II + accessories can be a little bit on the pricey side.
- The ability to hold small reflectors/diffusers might still be improved (although it is more than decent for anything up to 12″ and maybe even 22″).
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