Should I get a Pantograph? Plus How to Install a Pantograph System.

Are you looking into the Pantograph Studio System and trying to figure out if it will work for you? Here's a breakdown of the system, where you can use it, how it can be used, and how it can be set up, so you can make an informed decision taking the leap to using a ceiling rail system in your studio!

What is a pantograph system?

Pantograph rail systems consist of track rails bolted to your ceilings that enable you to attach a set of perpendicular rails to them that you can slide up and down the rails. Pantographs, or scissor mounts, can then be attached to these rails to hold studio lighting and other equipment, which can be moved up and down on the pantograph itself.

This design facilitates a wide range of movement for any attachments to the system, without having to wrangle light stands and cables on the floor, and the system is especially handy for studios with a lot of foot traffic, or for those who maintain a regular set up of overhead lighting for video purposes. 

You'll notice that large film studios will often use pantograph systems as they enable lights to be used from better angles, plus it allows for wider range of camera movement as it eliminates obstacles on set. 

Should I get a pantograph system?

Whether you believe you will benefit from is largely up to you, as it really depends on your workspace and what you would use it for, however, there are some things you need to make sure of before you purchase one.

1. Do you have the space?

Pantographs require a large amount of space, with our standard set measuring up at 3.3x4 metres. You will also need some space around the rails for ease of use and movement. 

If your studio is a bit small for a pantograph system, our Autopole sets may be more suitable for you. 

2. Do you rent your studio space?

Pantographs require a lot of drilling into ceilings, with mount brackets having to be placed at least every 45cm on the rails. If you rent your studio space, this is something to consider before purchasing. 

Which brings us onto our next point...

3. Is your ceiling sturdy enough for a pantograph set?

A rail system weighs a lot on it's own, never mind with up to 15kg worth of lighting and modifiers on each pantograph! Always ensure that you have solid ceilings that can support the weight of your pantograph plus whatever you plan to mount on it. 

How does the pantograph studio system work?

The rail system allows you to move the position of the lights on both axis, by sliding the rails and the pantographs. The diagram below shows this, with a blue (x) indicating a fixed rail, the red arrows showing the movement of the moveable rails, and the yellow arrows showing the movement of the extendable pantographs. The pantographs can then be extended up or down. 

This enables you to hang your lights, backgrounds and more wherever you need them in your studio, with the ability to quickly and easily adjust their positioning. 

How to set up a studio pantograph?

Setting up the pantograph is fairly easy, but do make sure you have the right tools and resources to affix it. 

We don't offer a service to fit pantograph systems in your studio, so please ensure that you are able to fit it yourself or you have someone local who can help you. 

Pre-assemble these brackets onto the rails at ground level, to ensure correct alignment before mounting to the ceiling. Mounting brackets should be spaced no less than 45cm (1.5ft) apart, using three per rail. Attach the Clamping Plates to the single rails. If you take a look at the end of a single rail, it should look like a T; attach the clamping plate to the top of the T. Attach the Clamping Plates to the double rails. If you take a look at the end of a single rail, it should look like a T; attach the clamping plate to the top of the T.


Fix the Single rails on the ceiling with the clamping plates. Use the expansion screws M6 (two per bracket). The gap between the single rails should be 2m (6.56 ft) Attach double pulleys to the single rails. IMPORTANT: must be installed to upper and lower holes on the moving rails, but only lower holes fixed on rails. Insert the limit screw M6, in the holes on the ends of each rail to prevent the carriages from coming off the rails, and to prevent the moving rails from coming off the carriages.

Install the Double Rails onto the double pulleys. Install Single Pulley and cable (with wire clips) on the double rails. Adjust the pole, which will attach to the spigot (brakes located on the single pulley.

First insert the limiting cover cap, then insert the limiting screw M6 in the holes at the end of the rails to prevent the carriages from coming off the rails, and to prevent the moving rails from coming off the carriages. Attach safety cables to your lights (exhibit A). You will pull the cable when you want to slide the pulley along the rail, and release to lock into place. The smaller cable attaches to your light and to the bottom of the pantograph to prevent the light from falling. Insert the expansion rack (pantographs) to the single pulleys and tighten the knob of the expansion rack to fasten it

To find these setup instructions all in one place, please visit the Instructions .pdf here.

Shop our Pantography systems here with different options for customisation: