Finally, I have invested in a better camera. I thought I would treat myself after Christmas while the sales were on and all last years, clearly dreadfully outdated models, were being flogged off at huge discounts. So I’ve got myself a dinky little Nikon waterproof model which I hope to be able to mount on the boat in order to provide a bit of film footage this year. It’s not as focused as a Gopro camera so I don’t know how good the results will be, but as with everything I do, there were some financial restrictions. I toyed with getting a Panasonic digicam, as there were some good bargains around, but ultimately I decided that it would have to be waterproof to live with me for very long. So I settled for this little yellow beauty, £69.99 from pc world.
Now, as with most consumer tat in this increasingly throwaway world, this was not the end of the story. Memory cards are extra, camera cases are extra, camera mounts are extra, tripods are extra, and so on. This is where the manufacturers really coin in the profits. The prices charged for this sort of brittle plastic crap is unbelievable. Of course you can’t do much about the memory card issue, you just have to bite the bullet and buy some (“of course the cheap ones really aren’t worth having sir, I would advise you get this high performance card. It’s only fifteen pounds”). The mounts, poles and tripods though can be fairly easily knocked up.
On most camera bodies there is a threaded hole in the bottom especially for attaching it to a tripod or mount. This hole is universally 1/4 inch UNC. If you go to your local agricultural engineers workshop, they will most likely give you a couple of 1/4 UNC bolts. You will need a few nuts to go on them while you’re there. Now, what I want is a means of securely mounting this camera to either the boom, the stern, the bows, or a ruddy great long pole. Luckily I know of a great modular system that will cover all these different mounting problems very well. It is the 20mm conduit system I use for commercial wiring. If you get hold of a single length of 20mm pvc conduit, some saddle mounts and a bending spring from a tame electrician, you can knock up a few different mounts in no time.
I made the “U” shape mount first as an attempt at a boom attachment, but then realized it could also be used as a stern or bow mount as well. It won’t be far enough away to capture much when on the dinghy though, so I’ve also made up an extension pole using another off cut of conduit. This had to have a “set” bent into it using the bending spring again to gain a little camera height. The camera itself is held by its UNC bolt to a square of 10mm ply which has a couple of conduit saddles screwed to it. I drilled two holes in the ply to allow two mounting positions.
Having fitted the camera to the pole it seemed a bit floppy so I may have to remake this using galv steel conduit instead. It won’t be as lightweight obviously but that doesn’t really matter if its mounted on the stern, besides, it’ll give the jet skiers a harder poke when they get too close.