Counterweights - An Essential Control Accessory

Pole Control

With counterweights, you will control your shots

The single biggest risk to the camera is the loss of control of the pole, particularly as the pole gets taller. If you want to know why, we explain the physics at the bottom. IMPORTANT: The forces don't change if you raise the pole while vertically. In fact, if you raise your pole vertically, you may not realize how unbalanced the pole is and how difficult it will be to control until a scary situation occurs. This is why counterweights are an essential safety measure whether or not you raise a pole vertically or from the horizontal.

Painter pole with weight boot and 5 pounds of wrist weights
The problem is that most off-the-shelf poles are not set up for attaching counterweights, and the smooth finish on the fiberglass and metal poles makes it difficult to attach any weight. For this reason, we developed our weight boots. In the photo to the left, you will see our weight boot on a painter's pole. The weight boot keeps the two sporting wrist weights from sliding off the pole and losing the counterweight.

We recommend that you use a weight boot with your choice of poles. Reason: These poles are tall and go from 20 to 40 feet high, and photographers often use them for heavier cameras because they are so stiff. The pole's stiffness simply means that it isn't bending under the weight - it doesn't mean that huge forces may not be in play! For that reason, we always use our weight boot with our Pixie Pole;.

The paint pole weight boot is available for purchase on our ordering page. We do not sell weights because many people already have sporting weights, and, if not, they are readily available at sporting and excercise supply stores.

Physics Explanation About Poles and Levers
It's high school physics, but the math is simple. The forces acting on both ends of the pole have to be equal for it to be under your control. If you are holding a 20 foot pole at 5 feet off the ground, that means that the weight on the end that is up in the air is 3 times more powerful than weight at the bottom (15 divided by 5=3). So, if you have 2 pounds of adapter and camera, this needs to be balanced by 6 pounds at the bottom to be balanced. If it isn't balanced, then you have to make up for it with your strength in holding up the pole. If the pole is fully extended and the longer section is heavier, that will also be multiplied.

Example: If you have a pole extended to 30 feet and you are holding it at 5 feet, the multiplier is going to be 5 (25 divided by 5). Let's assume that the pole weighs 10 pounds, 5 below the hands because of the fatter tubes and 5 pounds above the hands. If the adapter, resting plate, tilt mount, and camera weight three pounds, then the total weight above the hands is eight pounds (5 plus 3). To be balanced, that requires weight at the bottom that is 5 times as much as at the top, or 40 pounds. However, there are only 6 pounds at the bottom. This is a dangerous situation because the pole is very "tippy." It is fine when it is perfectly upright because the force is straight down to the earth, but if it tips over at all, it requires an enormous amount of strength to make it upright.

In the example above, if one adds 20 pounds of weight to the bottom, one has adjusted the center of gravity substantially. Now, instead of 6 pounds, there are 26 pounds to the 40 pounds of force on the other end. The ability to control the pole will be EASILY felt in this situation and the pole will require much less strength to keep upright. If you doubt it, take your pole to park with no one around and test different weights on each end!