Thursday 26 August 2010

Testing the Kayalu RAM Locking Suction Camera Mount

The great challenge for kayakers looking to record their adventures, how to mount a video camera & get good results? Up to now I've been using my Sticky Pod mounted on an extension for paddling video, which has produced some excellent results, but lacks versatility in composing scenes, and is also a bit cumbersome if it's anywhere near your paddle stroke.
The good folks at Kayalu kindly sent Rob & I a Kayalu RAM Locking mount which we've been testing for the past month. It has a three-piece adjustable bracket which allows you to compensate for awkward placement (like the sloping surface of a kayak deck), and also to get enough elevation to give your video some perspective. It's damn hard to make the sea look anywhere near as engaging as it can be on video unless you're moving fast & rough, so this mount is great from my perspective as I can frame the paddler in there too & give the viewer an idea of 'what it's like'. The foredeck mounted 'pointed forward' stuff I've seen tends to make everything look pretty bland, so I've been playing around with angles to see what works.
So far I've put it on the foredeck looking forward (where the extra elevation gives a modicum of perspective) & back (check out this video). I've used it offset to film paddlers alongside me as I paddle at their pace (check here), and in the video above I set up just behind the cockpit of my ski. I tilted the camera out at an angle over the gunwale, knowing I was going to be chasing some fun little waves whipped up by a day of solid westerlies. I find it hard to watch the short video without rocking from side to side in my seat, which tells me it must be capturing the ride in an authentic fashion. Now, if I could just work out a way to keep water off the lense, where's Jeff Jennings when I need him?!
Angled RAM Camera Mount on the foredeck of my surf ski
The camera was within reach if I needed to grab it for a still, or alternatively change the angle to capture the sunset etc, and I can adjust it even in rough water with one hand on the paddle. Terrific versatility.
The Kayalu accessorised RAM suction cups are very strong, the same system as used by professional glass installers. That said, if you're worried about your $500 HD Digi being knocked into the depths by a wave or stray paddle strike it comes with a bungee tether. The fittings are robust & so far in testing the unit shows no signs of problems from use in dynamic water. We don't expect these things to fail in flat water, but over the years have found all sorts of things for manufacturers about what happens when they are pushed in the sea environment.
In summary, in my opinions these little mounts are the first & best so far in a wave of boat mounted, commercially available fittings which will allow us to get better & better with our amateur video graphics.
We have stock on the shelf for $65 including delivery nationally, available through our online store.

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