Clamping Power! Beneath the Surface Arms & Clamps

Review: Easy Strobe Positioning and Safe Transport with BTS
By Todd Winner

Clamping Power! Beneath the Surface Arms & Clamps

Review: Easy Strobe Positioning and Safe Transport with Beneath the Surface

By Todd Winner


Beneath the Surface Arms & Clamps



To be honest, I've never really given my strobe arms and clamps that much thought. Most of the designs out there look similar and I assumed they all performed about the same as well. My only real complaint is that most of them will not hold my heavy strobes in place when I hand my rig up to the boat. I am currently using Ikelite 160 strobes and before that, Ikelite 200 strobes, neither of which you could classify as "small." No matter how hard I would clamp down on the arms, they still had a tendency to flop around whenever I handled my camera out of the water. I was telling my sad story to the guys at Beneath the Surface and they suggested I give their arms and clamps a try on my most recent trip to Palau.



The first thing I noticed when the package arrived was the anodized blue handles on the clamps. They just looked cool! The second thing was the build quality. These clamps are manufactured extremely well. All Beneath the Surface products are backed by a limited lifetime warrantee and made in the USA. When I put the whole system together they did indeed have clamping power. Even on the hike to Jellyfish Lake I didn't need to clip my strobe arms together to keep them from flopping around. Underwater, the clamps performed equally well. With only a slight amount of pressure, they had enough holding power to keep my strobes in place but were loose enough that I could easily reposition my strobes without adjusting the tension on the clamps. The clamps also feature a beveled edge to allow more sideways movement.





Today many manufacturers are building increasingly bigger buoyancy arms, but Beneath the Surface has gone in the complete opposite direction. What they lack in floatation, they make up for in a small, sleek design. The arms are made from 304 stainless steel tubing and the balls are machined from 6061 aluminum. They are then hard anodized and topped with an EPDM o-ring. The minimalist approach is also a blessing when it comes to packing your rig, taking up almost no room in your camera case. I hadn’t been using much floatation on my system so I hardly noticed the difference with other arms. I also like the small size and the option to fold up the arms as close as possible. For those that must use floatation, Beneath the Surface is currently designing a buoyancy float for their arms that should be available in the very near future.

After 10 days of constant use and some intentional abuse just to see if I could make them fail, the arms and clamps look as good as new. Even with the extreme over-tightening that I put them through, I only see some light wear to the finish.

Beneath the Surface produces a number of other products including flex arms, pivot trays and bridge bars. To see more of their innovative products, check out their website at





About the Author

Todd Winner is a professional underwater photographer and cinematographer, PADI scuba instructor and owner of Winner Productions, a boutique post production facility catering to Hollywood's most elite cinematographers. Since taking up underwater photography in 1990, Todd Winner has won over 60 international underwater photo competitions. His images have been published in numerous magazines and online publications. His work has been featured in commercial advertising, museums and private galleries.  To see more of Todd's work or join him on an underwater workshop, please visit


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