Carp rods

So what's the current consensus on carp rods / carp poles and their durability and strength? Through my searches, Ive only found very old posts about their use. Considering their intended use, I thought they would be a good candidate for pole photography. After all, some carp can weigh as much as 40kg. However, I'm only familiar with people using little point and shoot cameras with them. Has anyone successfully used a heavier camera with a carp pole like an M4/3? Obviously, I wouldn't trust the top sections where the pole is super thin but perhaps lower down where it's still a respectable length? There are a number of carp poles on eBay at dirt cheap prices but you might have to wonder about the durability of the really cheap ones.


  • You will get an immediate appreciation of leverage and gravity when you attempt to loft a medium to
    large camera on a pole ... when you shorten a carp pole, you might as well use a ( stronger, heavier )
    painter's pole.
  • The carbon-fibre carp poles most of us use for PAP have three key properties:
    they are cheap (£100 or less for an 11m pole)
    they are very light (1kg or so)
    they are put-on rather than telescopic - so they have to be assembled horizontally and then lifted into a vertical position
    The last property means that even when using a lightweight P&S camera the top section (1.5m say) cannot be used - so an 11m pole will allow a camera to be positioned 9.5m (31') up. I'm happy to loft my Canon Ixus 960 (weighing, with tilt rig and video downlink, about 500gm) that high. I'd be much less happy lofting my canon s100 or my Canon EOS M that high, but perhaps 7 or 8m with a lighter rig.

  • edited August 2019
    Paul oh yes, I learned that lesson when I attached my Panasonic G2 M4/3 camera to my last fibreglass pole which had a maximum extension of about 7 meters. Not much of an issue when adding a GoPro. Though when I added the G2, it was a real struggle to raise it from horizontal to vertical.

    Dave, I wasn't fully aware that carp poles had to be assembled piece by piece. And yea horizontal assembly or extension can be a nuisance sometimes depending on the environment. Though that's impressive that it can handle your 500 gram rig. I believe my Panasonic G6 and Samyang 12mm lens together weigh a bit over 600 grams.
  • Came across a telescopic aluminium pole that extends a little over 7 meters. Supposedly, the diameter is 55mm but I'm not sure if that refers to the top or bottom section. Regardless, it's five sections and they all look very close in diameter (extremely thick looking overall.) And my Panasonic G6 combined with Samyang 12mm lens weighs about 635 grams. You reckon a pole diameter of around 55mm or thereabouts would be enough to support that kind of weight near the top?
  • For the PhotoMop project I've tested lots of poles. And for heavier cameras carp poles are useless, even dangerous.
    For PAP I've found window washer poles to be the best but not all of them as some have good and user-friendly clamps.
    Please take a look here:

  • Peter, thankyou for confirming that the carp poles are not suitable for heavier payloads. It did look they had some potential considering that some carp are pretty damn heavy. Yea those window washing poles appear to be a popular choice for PAP. Some say the multi-sided poles are stronger and flex less but around here, I only see the round ones.
  • For lifting lightweight cameras a £20 fibreglass pole is not necessarily a bad choice.

    November 2008, I bought an 11 metre carbon pole (£80) and an 8 metre fibreglass pole (c. £15-£20). Both are put-over / take-apart poles. The carbon pole is very stiff and the fibreglass pole a little floppy. I use a simple rig (hopefully pictured below) a few variants of the same basic design. I've not used the carbon pole much in recent years because I keep having problems with it splitting even using lightweight cameras (Canon Ixus).
    PAP rig [2]

    I found that carrying the longer carbon pole on my rucksack was a bit of a pain with it moving around as it could only be secured in the lower half of its collapsed length. I might be out walking with pole and kite all day photographing archaeological sites.
    For carrying on a rucksack the shorter fibreglass pole works much better, and is easier to find a place for it in the car.

    I have never had a pole catastrophically split, Soon after purchase I split the lowest section of the carbon pole later it developed some splits around the middle section, it is still usable with great care. I've a few splits in the lower section of the fibreglass pole but it is still usable.

    I think that my biggest problem with splitting is down to bad technique of lifting the camera into the air and bringing it back down again.
    You can just lift the camera into the air holding the fat lowest section - its can be quite quick but seems to put a lot of strain on the pole and you can feel a lot of leverage. You can assemble the pole vertically lifting the camera as you go, its very easily to damage the joints when the heavy part moves.
    I find the best way is to assemble the pole on the ground then put the camera on the end, park/position the fat lower end against something to stop it moving/pushing away. Then from the camera slowly walk back to the lower end lifting the pole as you go and the same in reverse to bring the pole back down again.

    On the fibreglass pole I now use a Canon S110, Canon G1x, Panasonic GX1 (micro four thirds) with 14mm lens and video transmitter.

    Recently (June 2019) I bought a new 8m fibreglass pole (NGT Ambassador) from a seller on ebay UK for £20 delivered, which gives me 6.5m height from the ground. it is a bit stiffer (good) than Grandeslam Energie and seems to work fine at the moment.

    Ron Thompson Muscle Zone. 11m carbon. 9.3m maximum camera height, 1.62m collapsed length. 1060g

    Grandeslam Energie. 8m fibreglass. 6.6m maximum camera height. 1.17m collapsed length. 925g

    NGT Ambassador. 8m fibreglass. 6.5m maximum camera height. 1.15m collapsed length. 960g
  • edited August 2019
    I found this flap pole which I thought might be suitable for PAP.

    I told the seller of my plans to add a 635 gram camera to it. According to the seller, this pole weighs 9.8 pounds and the diameter of the top and bottom sections are 55mm. She reckons that this pole could support a one pound weight but thinks that my camera would probably be too heavy for it. I found this really surprising. Considering the above specs, I thought this pole would be more than adequate for supporting my Panasonic G6, Samyang 12mm lens and tilt control system. My gear would only weigh a tiny portion of the pole's weight and it is a super thick pole too. What are other peoples thoughts?
  • Refer to my first post above.
    That pole might support 1 pound, or more, in a direct down orientation. If you attach a camera while the pole is
    horizontal, then attempt to loft the pole 90 degrees to plumb/vertical, you will impose a tremendous amount of
    force on the pole, turning it in to a lever, rather than a simple down-loaded post. I reckon the pole might bend.
  • Paul, I specifically asked the seller if she reckoned that this flag pole could support a 365 gram weight in a vertical orientation (and remaining vertical for the whole time.) Regardless, she thought my equipment would still be too heavy for it while standing vertically. By the way, this flag pole can be extended and retracted while being kept vertical. I admit I'm surprised by the seller's thoughts on this though I guess I'll just take her word for it.
  • I'd say she knows best. It might support a load, but it might also flop about like spaghetti-on-stilts.
  • Paul, true. Always best to trust the seller in situations like this, I guess. Though it looks like it's the same type of flag pole as seen in this video. It looks so thick and solid. And weighs a lot more than my Panasonic M4/3 camera.

    Anyhow, Ive just ordered a telescopic TV antenna mast that extends to 6.5 meters with a 1.5 meter extension. It's aluminium. And the seller assures me that it will be more than strong enough to support the weight of my M4/3 gear. And another added bonus is that it can be extended and retracted vertically. It should be quite an improvement over the fibreglass pole I used to use and eventually broke.
  • edited October 2019
    Looks like I'll be taking the TV antenna mast back for a refund. It is nice and sturdy but other than that, I'm not happy with it. Not all the holes line up for the bolts to go through. The seller stated that this would be quick to setup but I found it quite the opposite. Very slow and cumbersome with too many steps involved. Not really practical for photography.

    I'm now considering a 12 meter fiberglass Spiderbeam pole. According to the specs, the fiberglass makes use of specially reinforced multilayer winding with a wall thickness of 1.4mm - 2mm. The diameter of the bottom section is 55mm and the diameter of the top section is 8mm. The diameter of each individual section is as follows:

    Bottom 55mm

    Next 50mm

    Next 45mm

    Next 41mm

    Next 37mm

    Next 33mm

    Next 30mm

    Next 26mm

    Next 22mm

    Next 17mm

    Next 13mm

    Top 8mm

    Would any experts here be able to recommend the smallest diameter that I could safely mount a 635 gram payload to? I'd like to mount the camera up as high as possible though I'd think 8mm would be too thin. 13mm and 17mm may possibly be too thin too but I don't know about the others.
  • The top section of the carbon-fibre pole I use with my 500gm PAP rig is just about 20mm in diameter. I suspect you might have use the 26mm section for your heavier camera.
  • edited October 2019
    Dave, thankyou for your insight. That sounds about right, given your experiences with your equipment. 26mm diameter would probably put it at the 8 meter mark which is a respectable height. I could hang a bag full of random things weighing 635 grams from that particular section to test it. It's times like these when I wish I had that smaller, lighter M4/3 camera Panasonic released a few years ago - can't recall the model name.

    Actually, Spiderbeam also produce a 10 meter aluminium extendable pole with the narrowest section being about 30mm diameter. Definitely ideal but over double the cost of the one that I'm considering buying. These kind of things certainly aren't cheap.
  • Still wondering if you've tried to loft a 635 gram weight from the ground, on the end of an 8 meter pole....
    I visualize a whole lot of bending ....
  • If you watch this 11-year old video you'll see me using the technique Hamish describes above to lift a pole - walking it up from the narrow end. The camera here is a very light 5 MPixel Pentax Optio with the shutter triggered via IR by Simon Sherwin's TUCIT.
  • edited October 2019
    Paul, like I mentioned before, I have lofted a similar weight camera from the ground with a 7 meter + pole a few years ago. It was hard! Though with this 12 meter Spiderbeam pole, I will be extending and retracting it vertically with the camera attached. I think the days of raising a pole from a horizontal position are well behind me. Too many disadvantages with that method. That's why Ive been so set on getting a pole that allows me to complete the whole operation vertically.

    Dave, Ive watched your video before. That's a good technique - walking towards the pole like that. And yes, you pointed out another disadvantage that I experienced a number of times with my previous pole - finding a large enough area to lay it out prior to raising it. From here on in, it's all vertical for me.
  • edited October 2019
    Actually, Dave, when you use your 500 gram PAP rig on the 20mm diameter section of your carbon-fibre pole, do you raise that one from a horizontal position as well? If that's the case, then that's a pretty good test of strength since it's my assumption that there's more strain on the pole from the payload when it's horizontal. Also extra confirmation that the 26mm section of my future pole would likely be quite safe for my camera (considering that it will remain vertical throughout the operation.)
  • Though I lower the pole to the horizontal holding the 'thick' end (and hence the pole bends under the strain), I never raise it that way, always 'walking it up' as in the video, which puts much less stress on the pole (and hence it bends much less).

    My logic is that though I don't want the pole to break, it's much worse if it breaks when raising (hence ruining a PAP session) than when lowering it at the end of a session.

    I've never had a pole break in the 13 years I've had one (and hundreds of PAP sessions).
  • edited October 2019
    Dave, ah yes good sense. That walking technique is certainly a good approach.

    I am considering the aluminium pole that extends to 10 meters. It looks really well made and sturdy and it's likely that it will support the weight of my M4/3 camera and 12mm lens near the top. The only thing that puts me off is the price! It's more than double the cost of the fiberglass pole. I would be planning to use it partly for hobby use but also for paid jobs as well - hopefully photographing clients' properties and businesses. There does seem to be some demand for aerial photographs of such places but it's hard to say how much demand there really is. Just not sure if I can justify the cost of the aluminium pole or not - whether I can get enough paying jobs out of it or not.

    Though I admit the situation is not as extreme as those companies who use the super long poles designed specifically for aerial photography - the ones that extend to 15 meters and in some cases 20 meters (which attach to a trailer hitch on a car.) They cost thousands and I wonder if they actually make that money back eventually.
  • DB-

    Someone here may whack me in the head for heresy, but it sounds to me like you ought consider, in addition to
    kites and poles, a drone !

    I suspect many of us have explored them. In my mind, they are simply another sort of camera, in a game where
    the picture is the whole reason-for-being. But nothing can replace the feel of a kite in a decent breeze...


  • edited October 2019
    Paul, Ive been flying quadcopters on a regular basis over the last few years. Though I think you know very well the advantages that kites and poles have over them. One of them is legal. There are a number of legal restrictions surrounding the use of drones / multirotors. Here in Australia, you have to keep your quad at least 30 meters away from people and you cannot fly them in populous areas or near busy roads. And it will be urban areas where I will mostly be using the pole. So for example, there would likely be occasions where I'll use the pole in the city where multirotors are forbidden. I think it would be great to photograph a well known landmark in the city from an elevated viewpoint, offering a new perspective on a familiar subject without breaking the law. And I can also see poles being very handy at festivals, allowing aerial photographs of the people below without endangering them.

    And as you well know, most consumer drones make use of small, light weight cameras with tiny little sensors. Although such small sized sensors can produce really nice looking video, the still photographs aren't going to look that great quality wise compared to what can be achieved with larger sensor cameras attached to a pole or kite.
  • Ive been looking around for clamps to attach my camera to the pole and I have been considering this one:

    It is very strong and versatile. Though the weight is 200 grams. Wonder if I could still use it with the 26mm section of the pole. Could be a bit risky.
  • Heavy and expensive.
    If your pole has a thread to receive a paint roller, you can make or buy an adapter. Pole Pixie was one name, also expensive
    and heavy...
    If you cut the handle, with the 5/8 female thread, from a paint roller, you can figure out a way to affix a 1/4-20
    bolt which will thread in to your camera base. You will probably need something like a wing nut, to lock the base of the
    camera from turning round the bolt.
  • edited October 2019
    Expensive? It's only a $12 clamp!

    I'm now considering an aluminium pole. It does have a thread on the top to accept accessories but unfortunately, the thread itself is plastic.
  • Plastic should be fine, unless you will be in extreme cold. If it can stand-up to paint rollers, or a window squeegee, both
    loads under dynamic pressure, I suspect it will hold your camera well enough. The other part you should consider
    is a ball head, or similar mechanism, to allow tilting of the camera.
  • Yes definitely a ball head or similar. My preference is to have a 45 degree angle tilt on the camera.

    Ive got a cheap ball head that I put on a picavet but it gets really stiff in it's movements....even when the knob is loosened. Don't know if that's generally an issue with cheap ball heads or if I should get a more expensive one.
  • I'll make it easy on you- look up " Mr. Longarm Angle Adaptor ". It goes on the end of a pole and you can surely
    figure out how to implement a 1/4-20 bolt on the small, " tilt-adjustable " piece.
    It is a US company that makes all sort of pole attachments.
    You then would not need a new ball head.
  • edited October 2019
    Okay, I looked up " Mr. Longarm Angle Adaptor." Very interesting looking extension which I see is tiltable. I'm not sire if I have this right but does the narrow end screw over the top of the extension pole? At first, I thought it was the other way around but then noticed only the narrow end had those visible threads. Regardless, when it's tilting, it looks like the weight of the camera would be a fair way out from the pole which has me concerned about the balancing. I think I'd feel safer with a ball head so that the camera weight is closer to the pole. If I do get hold of an adapter for the pole's screw head, I'm not really sure how to attach a bolt for the ball head to fit on to.

    And with regards to the pole's plastic screw thread, I guess every time metal is screwed on to it, the plastic would be worn away a little each time. Though if a metal adapter is screwed on there permanently, there should be no more wear. It does get cold over here in winter but not ultra low temperatures - not snow or anything like that. Though I did watch a video of someone who modified a cleaning pole into a camera pole and he was very happy with a metal screw thread he had on there.
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