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How To Mount A Camcorder Safely In A Car

Posted by Nik on June 8, 2009

There’s a lot of people who have the desire to shoot video while driving, but then quickly give up the notion after realizing how much of a pain it can be. However it’s not all that difficult if you know how to do it in a safe way that doesn’t inconvenience you.

One way is to build a mount, like this:

http://www.youtube.com/v/vVSq-hsqaUs&hl=en&fs=1&

There are a few immediate issues with the above method:

  1. Both seats must be at the exact same angle in order for the bar to work.
  2. Not everybody has a vehicle with headrests that extend (my truck doesn’t).
  3. You have to physically fabricate the mount from scratch; it requires drilling, bolts, nuts and so on.

image The second way – which is far easier – is to use a Flip secured tightly high on the passenger seat via a bungee cord wrapped around it.

I tested this and the result was surprisingly good.

(Note: The video below is admittedly boring. The point was to test shooting video this way to see if it would actually work.)

http://www.youtube.com/v/G2O1OAxo6rs&hl=en&fs=1&

Although I didn’t get the angle quite right (it is pointing down somewhat), the video is clear and mostly stable. I purposely drove down a residential road with speed tables just to see how the Flip could handle bumps in the road video quality-wise, and it fared out much better than expected.

Flip camcorders do not record to videocassette but rather internal Flash memory, and has its own built-in USB connector for easy Flip-to-PC transfer. The newer HD models sell for $200, but the Flip Ultra (which is what I have) will record up to 30 minutes with its 1GB internal memory and retails for around $80 depending on where you shop. It also has the convenience of running off just 2 AA batteries. The 60-minute record time 2GB versions are 10 dollars more.

Also, there is the Flip action mount, however this may not work for in-car use (but does work great for bicycles and motorcycles).

So if you have the itch to shoot video from the car, now you’ve got some easy and moreover safe ways to do it.

To close out, here are things you should never do with camcorders and cars:

Holding a camcorder while driving. Dumb. Just plain dumb. It takes a hand off the steering wheel and concentration off the road. Bad, bad combination.

Putting a camcorder on the dashboard. Bad idea. Most of the time it will block your field of view and if there are any emergency situations where you have to make a hard stop or turn, the camcorder will go flying – and possibly hit you.

Mounting a camcorder near or on the rear glass. Blocks field of view in the rear direction. Bad idea.

Mounting a camcorder with suction cups to glass. Not smart. It will fall off. And yes there are some fools who have actually tried this.

If the camcorder is not secure, it’s just bad news all around. The steel bar method is rock solid. The bungee method keeps a Flip (and only a Flip or like type camcorder) very secured.

What about tripods?

A standard tripod is very bulky and will compromise the space behind the driver/passenger seats. In addition it’s not easy to set up at all.

The GorillaPod (in particular the Go-Go) is not secure enough for in-car use.

People see videos like these:

http://www.youtube.com/v/3A-unBigvoY&hl=en&fs=1&

…and really want to do the in-car video thing. But trust me, this was not an easy setup. Not at all. Cool yes, but not easy.

3 thoughts on “How To Mount A Camcorder Safely In A Car”

C.T. Jaeger says:
I agree with the examples in the original article. However, here is a new product that enables you to use an existing tripod (requires leg braces on the tripod) for in-car camera mount: Tripshot. http://www.azimotion.com/tripshot_how_to.html

The seatbelt holds the platform in place while the tripod is held in place by Tripshot. Quick and easy to install, and extremely stable.

Reply
haberler says:
I may have to try and create a mount for it when I get back to turkey
Reply
Drew says:
I’ve got the Flip UltraHD – http://www.theflip.com/products_flip_ultra_specs.II.shtml – and the additional recording time in HD plus use of AA batteries is absolutely perfect. I prefer the MinoHD for size, but the UltraHD has a bigger screen size so that one gets my vote.
I may have to try and create a mount for it when I get back to Australia 🙂
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