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Under Water, Over Land
Tools & Techniques for Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife & Underwater Videography.

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Old January 19th, 2008, 02:49 PM   #1
Inner Circle
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fairfield, Dunedin, New Zealand
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Do you shoot outdoors?

Do you shoot in wild and windy locations?

Have you ever spent hours getting that special footage only to discover when viewed on "the big screen" that the wind has turned that top mounted shotgun into a nodding donkey and taken the entire camera with it?

Do you know what wind speed is "too much" for the pathetic 1/4" screw holding your precious camera to that very expensive head and tripod?

Well, I do, I have and now I have an answer for that last question as well!

Having been "blown off" yet another shoot the other day (the dreaded Shag Point on the East Coast), and subsequently discovering that the footage went down the toilet quite some time before the "nodding donkey" became "up front and personal" even in the Canon A1's lcd, I resolved to tackle this problem once and for all.

I stumped for the Xplorer 2, and a dinky, handy little gizmo it is too. Hopefully it's only a temporary workround till I can solve this stupid camera mount problem once and for all, but at least it's going to stop me wasting time shooting when the wind has overloaded the mount system.

The problem?

1. Shag Point is probably one of the most consistantly wind swept places in NZ. First thing (dawn) it's quite often as calm as a mill pond, but you're shooting almost directly into the rising sun.

As the sun starts to rise, heating the land behind you and the air above it, it starts sucking air in off the ocean at greater and greater velocities, until by 10.30 - 11.00 am it's averageing 25 - 30 mph. By 1 pm (when the sun is almost perfect for shooting) it's almost impossible to stand on the exposed foreshore, let alone think of shooting.

2. Whomever first came up with the 1/4" single mounting screw/ bolt system (I've got a bellows camera circa 1912 which sports one, but I reckon it hails from considerably before then) I do not think had HD delivery systems and 20 X zooms in mind (amost every second of Shag Point footage is shot @Z99 due to the distances involved).

I thought I'd cracked this rather antiquated systems drawbacks by taking a webbing strap, wrapping it one turn around the top handle upright and then securing it under the camera/ tripods mounting plate, which when the camera is balanced on the head, protrudes some 1" - 11/4" (25 mm - 30 mm) in front of the head top plate.

Sure enough, it stopped the side to side wobble in it's tracks. What it also did, however, was pull the front of the camera down, ever so slightly, to the point where it was no longer sitting flat on the plate. This minute gap was all that was needed to get into the "nodding donkey" effect, even with the top mounted shotgun completely removed (never underestimate the sail area of an A1's lens hood!).

So, the side to side wobble has been replaced with a front to back wobble.

On a 46" screen it looks absolutely ghastly.

The cure?

Well, I reckon if someone doesn't come up with a bomb proof, 4 point minimum, mounting system to keep these types of cameras rooted to the spot, there's going to be more and more pissed off punters who can't keep their expensive HD cameras still.

I'm working on a useable clamp system to this end (anybody know of a commercial one in existance?) but untill I solve this, at least this little gizmo will tell me I'm wasting my time.


PS. About $100 NZ.

PPS. NZ Fur Seals

Last edited by Chris Soucy; January 19th, 2008 at 11:09 PM. Reason: Addition
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Old January 21st, 2008, 03:03 PM   #2
Inner Circle
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Location: Rhode Island
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Hi Chris,

It seems we deal with some of the same problems shooting windy spots on the shore.

I agree with your assessment of the mount system with one ¼-20 screw to secure our expensive tools in tough environment. Not very smart engineering!

So what the hell can we do to solve this high sail area problem on the cameras?

One thing I have done is put rubber on the bottom of the camera, tripod plate, and shoulder mount plate. It is 1/32” thick called “Grip-All Textured Neoprene Rubber”; Durometer is 40A so very soft with a strong acrylic adhesive on one side that is good from -20F to 180F. It makes a big difference in the side to side but does not solve the fact that ¼” screw is not enough.

If I find any options I will let you know. Still have not had time to go to B&H but will give you my take when I do.

What is the water temp where you are shooting?
Paul Cronin
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Old January 21st, 2008, 03:51 PM   #3
Inner Circle
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Well hi again, Paul.........

Was wondering how the great B&H expedition had fared.

Water temperature?

I honestly don't have a clue, tho' the absence of swimmers on the beach a couple of miles away at any time of year probably says it all.

I vaguely remember reading somewhere there's a cold current runs up the east coast of the South Island more or less straight from Antarctica, would explain a lot, including the seals.

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Old January 25th, 2008, 09:03 PM   #4
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Suggestion; since a heavier tripod wasn't mentioned I recommend a sand bag.

You have a couple of options;
1. Hang the bag just under the head. It acts as weight and vibration dampener.
2. If it's really howling put the sand bag on top of the camera.

Both of the options have worked for me in up to hurricane conditions.

Finally, cut the wind load on the camera. Put the mic, lights, etc. camera.
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Old January 26th, 2008, 09:30 PM   #5
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Location: Saskatchewan
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what a couple simple ideas that make sense.

I have a bottome spreader and put weight on it, but hanging a sand bag under the head is capital.

On top the camera? well yes if you have a cover over your camera!!

also not so good when you have to hike your gear in some where.

how much weight are you talking about here, and for what weight of camera??
Dale W. Guthormsen
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Old January 27th, 2008, 12:39 PM   #6
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Those New Zealand winds really are something else - and they seem to last forever! Or perhaps I just didn't get up early enough!

I use a beanbag with 2kg rice on top of the camcorder in windy conditions, though here we don't usually get winds bad enough to blow the beanbag off.

Manfrotto/Bogen tripods have a 3/8in screw which does at least look more substantial (going back to a 1/4in screw for my remote pan and tilt head feels like going back to the dark ages). I use a webbing strap over the camera and through the tripod head - but as an extra insurance against the camera falling of the tripod when I'm carrying it.

Edit - I realised a while after posting this that I was talking at cross-purposes. The Manfrotto 3/8 screw is between the tripod and tripod head. Because I use quick release plates, I don't see the 1/4 screw from the quick release plate to the camera. However, my remote pan and tilt head connects to the tripod with a 1/4in screw, and it just doesn't look safe any more. I've only used it indoors.

Last edited by Annie Haycock; January 27th, 2008 at 02:17 PM. Reason: amendment
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Old January 27th, 2008, 01:11 PM   #7
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All my cameras have portabrace covers. The weight of the sand bag depends upon your needs. A 2-3 lb bag would be fine for a prosumer camera, a 5-10 lb bag for a Betacam, etc. Is it heavy? Sure. But there are few perfect solutions.

Yet another solution is to use a strong bungee cord. If your shooting from a platform and can stretch the cord from the platform up to the tripod head you will cut some vibration.
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