Kupo 4-Way Clamp for 1.4-2.0" (35-50mm) Tube — with Kupo Baby 5/8" (16mm) Stud, 4.25" (108mm) Long for 3 & 4-Way Clamp — for Photo Studio Strobe Photography — a Review

© 2013 Peter Free


31 May 2013 (revised 12 June 2013)


Picture of Kupo 4-way clamp for 35 to 50mm tube with Kupo baby 16mm stud by Peter Free for his review of the clamp and stud.



A good idea from Kupo™ — but crudely machined from arguably sub-standard materials


The Kupo 4-Way Clamp for 1.4-2.0" (35 to 50mm) Tube and its matching Kupo Baby 5/8" (16mm) Stud, 4.25" (108mm) Long for 3 & 4-Way Clamp are admirable ideas, but perhaps too cheaply executed.


That said, the clamp and stud do work.  For how long, I do not yet know.


Kupo says the camp will hold 30 kilograms (66 pounds).  I doubt I would want to stress it that much, especially with something heavy attached to an arm that extends some length from the Kupo clamp stud.


Picture of Kupo 4-way clamp for 35 to 50mm tubing and Kupo stud attached to Gitzo tripod leg, holding Bowens Calumet Travelite 750r strobe, by Peter Free for his review of the Kupo clamp and stud.



For an example of how this clamp can be used in clamshell portrait lighting




John Willamson for Profoto [Profotovids], Alternative Lighting Styles with Profoto Rfi Softboxes, YouTube (06 December 2012) (36 minute instructional video)



Manfrotto, Avenger, and Matthews Studio Equipment — represent an appropriate standard for quality comparison


Most (but not all) samples from these manufacturers are competently machined from materials suited to their designed-for function.


The Kupo clamp and stud fall into a gray area by that standard:


The clamp exhibits crude lathe marks on its inside surfaces.


Its component material is soft aluminum.


The clamp release plunger works with early Soviet Era harsh-feeling crudeness.


       The stud is softer still.


If you look at the below photograph, if can see two grooves that my first use created on the stud’s 5/8th inch shaft.  Those are the result of tightening the steel mounting bolt on a Bowens/Calumet 750r Travelite strobe.


Picture of grooves left in soft aluminum of Kupo 4-way clamp stud, as a result of mounting a Bogen Calumet Travelite 750r by Peter Free for his review of the Kupo clamp and stud.


The Travelite and its reflector plus grid assembly weigh about 3.7 kilograms (8.1 pounds).  That is only about 12 percent of the clamp’s rated maximum.  Given the grooves that the steel Bowens bolt left in the soft aluminum Kupo stud, I am not sure that I would want to leverage that kind of weight any farther out on the end of a longer arm.


You can imagine what this very light aluminum stud is going to look like after a year or so of use.



Less than thorough thinking


Although not evident in the picture, the aluminum tightening ring that attaches the aluminum Kupo stud to the 4-way clamp loosens easily because it lacks a washer or lock nut.


In use, one soon notices that the stud (and whatever is on it) begins to wiggle.  This is probably not a big deal, but it does detract from a sense of solidity.



An unrelated caveat


Be aware that the 4-way clamp only fits the larger tubes that represent the lower and mid-sections of most light stands.


As you can see from the picture, it works well on the upper leg section of an obsolete, heavy duty Gitzo tripod leg.  But the clamp does not fit the average light stand’s lower tripod legs or upper center column sections.  Nor does it fit most camera tripods’ skinnier lower legs.


Consequently, the majority of users are going to be limited in how low they can mount the 4-way Kupo clamp.



An aside on Kupo’s excellent website


Manfrotto, Avenger, and Matthews all have fairly uninformative, difficult to navigate and search websites.


Not so for Kupo.  I am impressed with this manufacturer’s effort to thoroughly inform its potential customers with a combination of decent photographs and text.



Recommended — but with the above caveats


The Kupo 4-way clamp is such an elegant idea that I am a little disappointed that the company did not decide to do it justice by designing a better stud assembly.


On the other hand, the 4-way’s conceptual elegance is addictive.  And, as executed, the clamp may just be good enough.