I was looking for a laptop tray for use while shooting tethered, and was having trouble finding one that didn’t seem overpriced. The least expensive one I could find was this one from Kupo, which at $75 isn’t that cheap, especially considering it’s not adjustable (unless used with a ball head on a tripod; neither included). Others, from Benro, Matthews, and Foba, ranged from $119 to a whopping $469. I don’t mind paying for high quality, well-built gear, but I don’t know why a simple metal plate has to cost over $100.
FStoppers has plans for a DIY laptop platform for $30, but it requires a bit more work, and is less than elegant, involving nuts and bolts and a slab of wood.
It occurred to me that a music stand might work, and those can be had for less than $50. After I began looking at music gear, I stumbled on this: a $15 laptop tray (MSA-5000 by On-Stage) with socket fit for a microphone stand. Add a $4 adapter (3/8″ female to 5/8″ male) to it, and the platform will attach to light stands, tripods, and other photo gear. If you want to really splurge, for $15 to $30 you can get an umbrella adapter, which will make the tray tilt-adjustable.
If you’re shooting outside in bright sun, you can use the $5 Dröna box from Ikea as a laptop shade (it’s 15″ wide; my 15″ Macbook fits snugly). That’s what I use, with slight modifications: I cut a slot in the side for my USB cable to reach my Macbook’s USB port, and I also cut two slots in the bottom of the box that laptop tray’s tabs fit into. Thanks to DIY Photography for that idea.
So $19 for basic laptop tray to fit a light stand or tripod; another $20 to $40 for adjustable grip and shade.
On-Stage MSA5000 Laptop Mount (shown in photo at top of page; $14.95)
3/8″ Female To 5/8″ Male Threaded Screw Adapter (above photo, bottom left; $4.95)
Umbrella adapter with 3/8″ stud ($13 – $33; I’d recommend a high quality model like Manfrotto 026 for the most secure setup. Be sure the umbrella adapter you get has a 3/8″ stud; the kind with a flash shoe won’t work with the laptop platform.)
- Light stand or tripod (if you have a tripod with heavy duty ball head, you don’t need the umbrella adapter).
Warning: Be sure the tray is mounted securely to tripod or stand before adding laptop. You might want to use a strap or something similar for safety, to be sure the laptop doesn’t slip off.