Here's an application of some simple but effective principles; three point support,
camera supported at its center of gravity and solid support to the vehicle.
A sand bag on the window sill of a car door works fairly well, but this system
is easier to adjust and even allows some camera moves.
VX 1000 on Sand Bag
The bases can be made of wood, PVC water pipe, metal or plastic. Kitchen mixing
bowls 8" to10" work fine for a Sony VX 1000 size camera.
Bowls and Bases
Off-the-shelf bowls are too thin and will dent easily. I cement 2 or more together
with fiberglass resin or boat epoxy to make them stronger. They have to be cleaned
of residual oil or wax so the resin or epoxy will stick. Clean steel wool and
household cleanser works fine. Measure with water to see how much resin plus
a little extra you will need to fill the gap between the bowls. Clean and dry
the bowls well. Pour the correct amount of mixed resin or epoxy in the bottom
bowl and wiggle the top bowl to force air bubbles out. Weight the top bowl to
hold it down as the resin set. This is a messy process. Wear rubber gloves and
cover your work area.
Cut a piece of 3/8" to 1/2" plywood, Masonite or plastic the size of the top
of the joined bowls. Drill and tap a 1/4" - 20 hole and screw a 1/4" - 20 bolt
through the center of the top long enough to not bottom in the camera mounting
screw hole. (About 3 threads) Make sure that the hole is straight. Use a drill
press if available. Tape the plywood top to the bowls with 2" wide tape.
If you use quick releases to attach the camera to the plywood bowl top, I suggest
that you make spacers of hard foam that support the camera at a distance from
the quick release to keep the camera from wiggling in the quick release.
Make one of the base designs to fit your car door. Screw the bowl on your camera
and you are ready to shoot. Keep your hands on the camera. A safety cord on
the camera and on the base is wise so you don't drop them while driving.
The bowl allows some panning, tilting and horizon correction while shooting,
but many traveling shots work well with a fixed angle. Consider a wide angle
For shooting out of a sun roof, a simple 3 point support works well.
Sun Roof and Bowl
Use hard rubber feet or tape and the legs to protect your paint. You will need
a remote start stop cable and a monitor would be helpful. You might put a microphone
that hears the camera motor running plugged into the camera and an earphones
to tell if the camera is running. A telephone pick up device may also act a
as a microphone near a motor when it runs. A video monitor would help for seeing
The mixing bowls and PVC fittings have just about the right amount of friction.
Rubber has too much friction and Teflon has too little.
DON'T TRY DRIVING AND SHOOTING AT THE SAME TIME! Get someone else to drive and
don't do dumb things like turn around where it is NOT safe. Be careful about
other drivers, passengers and road rage. Don't act like you are taking people's
pictures. Point the camera away from people if there are any doubts. Don't look
at people like you are taking their picture. For extensive shooting from a sun
roof consider other stuff on a roof rack to help disguise the camera.
For shooting out a open roof such as from a stopped safari vehicle, a small
three point support works very well with bowls.
© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.