I do have an update on the high-angle vidcam-mount saga.
I thought I had found the solution in either a Contour or XShot/XShot 2.0 monopod/extender ( http://xshot.com/
These things are small, light, sturdy, and ideal, even having a wrist strap that can be removed, revealing a threaded female mount compatible with my Rowi camera clamp or a standard tripod mount. The original plan was to clamp my Rowi camera clamp (with its very nice and sturdy tilt-ball head) to wherever I desired on the bike, then fit the extender to it and fasten the camera to the end. Boom; done deal.
The trouble is (and there's always some
thing, it seems) is these extenders have nothing to prevent rotational movement. Their shafts are simple telescoping sleeves and over time, they loosen to the point where they don't have much rotational resistance. The camera mounts are off-center and when you put a camera on one that has been used awhile and subject it to vibration, the camera tends to "clock" around the shaft. While this gives some really interesting and creative camera angles, I've generally had greater success when I
control the process. I really think these things would be great for occasional handheld use.However, in this application where they don't work well, and the rotational thing becomes a big issue over time. A GoPro Hero2 camera in its waterproof case is a surprisingly heavy thing. 9.4oz/270g on my little scale with its LCD back and the larger case-back needed to accommodate the add-on screen. More than enough weight to wind up upside-down at the end of a POV (Point-Of-View camera) extender.
The next plan is to go for a monopod instead. A monopod is like a tripod, but with only one leg. It provides a steadier perch for your camera than hand-holding, and/or may provide a bit more vertical reach for taking shots above the heads of a crowd. Monopods are (or can be) cheap, as little as USD$15 with free shipping on eBay for ones I've already checked out as reliable enough to use. They come in sleeved round or oval stock in various end diameters, and -- most importantly! -- have cam-lock clamps to keep the extended pole steady and prevent rotation as well. most that extend to 67in/1.7m collapse to only 21in/~53cm, ideal for carry with my rack-top drysack of about the same length/width. Cool.
The trouble (of course
there's trouble!) is what makes a monopod perfect as a monopod makes it imperfect for my use. The big end is at the top, and ends in a male fitting for the camera's tripod socket. I need a female fitting there to attach to my Rowi camera clamp. The solution is a double-ended coupler nut, which I can even make from aluminum hex stock I can thread myself.
The other problems are a bit more difficult to overcome, but manageable. The little end of the monopod is at the bottom, where I'd like to attach my camera. Unfortunately, the bottom ends of monopods end in a) a rubber foot, b) a pointy spike, or c) a little lever so you can stand on it to steady the whole works. None comprises a mount for a camera.
The solution to that seems to be a GoPro or Contour bike handlebar mount, provided I can get a monopod with the proper diameter to fit the mount well.
So, the setup would be:
1) Rowi camera clamp attached in one of a variety of places on the bike.
2) threaded onto that via a coupler nut is a monopod of varying length, with locking sections to prevent collapse/rotation.
3) Bike adapter for camera attached to end of monopod.
4) depending on location, monopod would be stabilized by Spectra cord or Kevlar cord guys ending in locking nylon clips (I have just made some up; look good and viable for the task). The weight of the camera/monopod assembly would be partially suspended by the Spectra/Kevlar guys and anchored with the solid clamp.
I have already tried the GoPro helmet j-hook extension to see what luck I might have with that. Not so much. There is (as expected) an extreme amount of fish-eye distortion. Besides, adding another 9 ounces to a stick on my helmet is not very comfortable, especially when riding on rough roads, so that idea is out. There is another issue with that, and it is a little disorienting for the viewer: The head and helmet appear to remain stationary while the rest of the world rotates around them. Kind of an anti-Copernican view of the universe on a small scale.
More later as trials continue. There are also some unexpected but related issues with the GoPro Hero 2 camera that I'll be covering in this thread: http://www.thorncycles.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=4117.msg19982;topicseen#msg19982
By the way, I have now tried a variety of lesser vidcams with removable or built-in flash storage and found -- despite ratings for sports use and the implications of ruggedized cases for water- and dust resistance -- they do not work worth beans for tracking and recording smooth motion when they
are also in motion. For holding still and maybe slowly panning off the bike, they're fine. For capturing passing motion while on the bike...no. Their processors and write speeds are too slow to capture smooth motion, especially with built-in memory. I have also come to the reluctant conclusion that for capturing smooth video on flash (SD cards, in my case), there really is a difference when it comes to a card's rated speed. Even if a device (say, the Go Pro Hero2) is rated to use Class 6 cards, you will get fewer artifacts (mosiacs, green-screening) at the margins with a Class 10 card. If you shop carefully, good ones are pretty cheap. I just got a Class 10 32GB SDHC card for USD$19. Beware of the ones you see too cheap on eBay, as the ratings are often optimistic or outright wrong (to the point of being mislabeled) in my own write-speed testing.