I'm working on designing my macro studio to photograph insects at magnifications from 5:1 out to about 1:3 with a Canon EOS 20D. Beyond 1:1 I'll use a MP-E 65mm 1-5X Macro lens, with a working distance of a few inches. At less than 1:1 magnification, I'll be using the Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM, which has a working distance of 1 foot or more. I'll be using the MT-24EX Macro Twin Light flash with both lenses. The camera/lens/flash combined will weigh about 1.8kg / 4 pounds. I'm shooting in a semi scientific context: I mostly need to shoot flat side views and flat top and bottom views of each insect. This is sort of a convention in fly fishing entomology work, as it provides the most useful information for identification and imitation of aquatic insects. About half my subjects will be dry (mayfly adults, etc) and half will be aquatic nymphs and larvae in petri dishes or a tiny aquarium. So here are my criteria for my tripod assembly: -Great stability. I'll be tripping the shutter with a remote for sure, but vibration could still be a problem at the 5X magnification I'll need for some species. I need a tripod that will fix that. -I need to take pictures looking straight down at these insects from above, in addition to regular side shots. My assembly needs to be stable in both positions while holding my camera/lens/flash. I should be able to move the camera up and down to focus in fine increments while pointing it straight down, without anything slipping. -It should be easy to quickly move my camera between the side and straight-down viewing positions, because I'll be taking shots of each insect from both angles, and often doing 10-20 insects a night. -My subjects will be alive and scurrying around in a petri dish or on a branch. I take pictures when they cease their scurrying for a moment. So to follow the insects around (and to focus) I need to be able to fine-tune my camera position in all 3 axes in both side and top viewing configurations. From what I've read so far, it seems my best choice will be to get a tripod with an accessory arm to hold everything out away from the tripod legs, and use a counterweight to balance it. It sounds like I need micrometric plates to follow the insects around. Maybe I should have one end of the accessory arm configured for side-view and one for top-view, and use some kind of quick release attachment to make it easy to move my camera from one to the other. I'm pretty unfamiliar with the equipment available and I'll really appreciate any comments about the general setup I'm describing, specific models/types of equipment to look into, any big things I seem to be forgetting, etc... Thanks!