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This $28 'magic arm' makes taking pictures so much easier

Forget tripods, this concoction from SmallRig is a far better camera accessory.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer
SmallRig 9.8-inch adjustable 'Articulating Magic Arm' clamp

SmallRig 9.8-inch adjustable 'Articulating Magic Arm' clamp.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Forget the mini tripods that fall over in the lightest of breezes. The best way to secure your small camera, smartphone, or action camera to get the shot you want is to use SmallRig's 9.8-inch adjustable clamp, better known as the "Articulating Magic arm."

For years I've been using an Ulanzi clamp to attach my action cameras and smartphones (and sometimes much bigger cameras, such as my Sony A7IV mirrorless), but there was one problem with it -- sometimes it wasn't long enough. 

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I tried a few different clamps with longer articulated arms, but none had the strength of stability I demanded if I was going to dangle something expensive off of it -- until I came across the SmallRig 9.8-inch adjustable 'Articulating Magic Arm' clamp

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SmallRig 9.8-inch adjustable 'Articulating Magic Arm' specs

  • Total length: 10 inches
  • Max payload: 1.5kg
  • Weight: 345 g
  • Material: Aluminum alloy
  • Fittings: 1/4-inch on arm, 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch threaded holes on clamp
  • Clamp jaw size: Can accept rods from 15mm to 40mm
The SmallRig 9.8-inch adjustable (bottom) along with the Ulanzi Super Clamp in hand

The SmallRig 9.8-inch adjustable (bottom) along with the Ulanzi Super Clamp.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The primary thing that I look for in this sort of clamp is stability. I want the jaws of the clamp to lock tightly in place, and I want the articulating arm to go from articulating to rock solid. This clamp ticks those boxes. 

The SmallRig articulating arm holding a smartphone

The SmallRig articulating arm has no problem holding a smartphone.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

With the right attachment, you can connect your smartphone or action camera to the clamp. 

I really like this as a mount for my GoPro Hero11 Black, whether I'm doing something static like capturing timelapses or taking action shots.

The SmallRig attached to a GoPro

This is the most versatile clamp for my GoPro.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

A feature I really love about this clamp is how you can tighten up all the articulated joints using just the wingnut. 

Closeup of wingnut

This wingnut!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

That's right, that one wingnut in the middle locks both the elbow in the middle and both ends.

Closeup of wingnut locking entire articulated arm

The single wingnut locks the entire articulated arm.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Once you've tightened that wingnut, everything is locked in place -- the elbow, the joint at the clamp end, and the end that connects to a camera.

The SmallRig locked in place

Everything is locked in place.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

This is great because the arm is super flexible to allow you to frame up the shot you want exactly as you want it, and then lock up the arm so everything stays where you need it to be with no droop or sagging. 

The arm is strong and stable, capable of a 1.5kg payload. Given that a mirrorless camera like the Sony A7IV is about 700 g, this arm can hold a lot more than just an action camera. 

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I love the SmallRig 'Articulating Magic Arm' clamp and have used it to get all sorts of shorts, from nighttime star trails to product shorts. It's super versatile, strong, and under $30, so it is perfect for the photographer, action camera user, Instagrammer, and TikToker looking to frame up to get that perfect shot.

For me, the 9.8-inch version is ideal, but if you want a smaller one, SmallRig has a 5.8-inch version with all the same features, just with a smaller arm.

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