Here at Sitons we’re lovers of all things action cam. Whether it be GoPro or other brand machines we’ve used it – just check out Sitons’ extensive number of review articles to see evidence of this. But what about mounting these cams to get those correct angles and all-important shots? Just as we were thinking about compiling our very own action camera article we had regular Sitons contributor Chris Bell give us a shout with his own thoughts on the matter. As you can see this is pretty extensive. Chris has put a lot of time in to discovering what works and what doesn’t – as such we thought it best to give Chris centre stage. So here’s Chris discussing all things action cam mounts and shot angles for sit on kayakers.
Front left and 360 mount
This is the 360 mount placed on the front left side of my boat and is the mount I use most to capture people in other boats or scenery shots while paddling. The biggest pain trying to get pictures while paddling is as soon as you stop the boat turns completely away from the thing you want to shoot! But you can set it off taking pictures and just paddle up to the subject. If I am facing forwards this is the side that the camera is always on as the lens is furthest away from the boat. It might only be an inch or so but it makes a difference to how much of your own boat you will see. You could use the 360 mount with the suction cup in any of the same locations that I have my mounts. If I could bolt the ‘sticky’ mount to the boat again I would move it further towards the nose, that way I would get even less of my kayak in shot. The GoPro suction cup probably wouldn’t go any further forward because there isn’t enough space but a Joby one might as they are smaller. I haven’t used one of those so couldn’t say how grippy they are (they’re not good when being stuck to rough surfaces so best check before purchasing – ed). And from the photo you can see that the camera has a float and tether attached – I always use both.
This is the GoPro suction cup mount. Before I bolted the ‘sticky’ mounts to my kayak this is what I used. I still utilise when out on the double kayak as I don’t have any mounts bolted to that. Providing you get the suction right I have found this a very secure mount. When it was on the double hnader during our recent surfing mission the suction cup got hammered as we were going through swells rather than up and over. Yes, it moved but never came off. Also it has been on a single person kayak that was pushed up the beach across the shingle. The arm was forced down but still it didn’t budge. It’s a great mount, but also it is quite big, so I only use it when I can’t use my preferred.
I don’t use this anymore as I have others that do the job better, although this is a great mount. I wouldn’t use it in surf though! But on a flat river or lake it would be fine. The photo here shows how super wide the GoPro shooting angle is. I would think it is less than two feet from the camera to my daughter but looks like miles! So some advice would be that you can go closer than you think! While I don’t use this mount much anymore it is great when exploring river banks or lake shores. The mount can also be clamped to tree branches, gates or posts. It will also go on a paddle shaft to get selfies.
My hand grip mount is surprisingly fun to use. Chasing and dodging boats got the heart pumping! Again in these photos it looks like I am a long way from the subject, but I doubt I am a paddle’s length away. It can be quite scary when vessels are coming at you! Even though I am standing up taking these pictures I still had my PFD and helmet on. I don’t use this that often and then only for taking photos of surfing. The grip itself has a leash and it also floats so is great for being in the water.
It wasn’t until I started getting pictures together I realised how much I use this mount and the variety of what it captures. A big tip about placement is it’s worth checking how you think your paddle will be orientated when in use so the mount doesn’t go on upside down and the camera spends most of its time being underwater. Looking at the picture of the camera on my paddle I realise I haven’t followed my own advice about having the lens furthest away from the boat. When I am trying to steer from my right the lens will be on the ‘inside’ closest to my boat. I will change that for next time. But you can see as I am a total novice at surfing it is in the perfect place to capture the carnage – from being upside down, to pearling. But perhaps what is most surprising, and what I love about all the mounts when surfing, is the unexpected pictures I get like cloud framed by a bubble and that perfect blue sky while I go and retrieve my boat for the thousandth time.
Front middle mount
This was the first place I mounted my ‘sticky’ too. It was also where I realised ‘stickys’ don’t hold well enough to plastic – either that or my application was faulty. I think this is a decent place to put them though. But to be honest I don’t really use it that much. I think the composition is a bit flat and because of the curve of the kayak’s deck it would have to be on a fairly long extension. The suction cup will attach to this part of the hull even though it is curved – you just have to make sure it is wetted. There’s a process of trial and error, which I should have mentioned in the suction cup part above, but the floaty won’t keep your camera afloat if it is on the suction cup mount! So make sure it is tethered.
Selfie stick/ tripod (GoPro call this the 3-way) I have included together as they are essentially the same mount with multiple functions. This is a great mount. It works as a selfie stick, tripod and also a grip, just like the grip mount before. Due to its many joints the bit where the tripod legs go can fill with water. I therefore wouldn’t use it in the surf. It folds down and is quite compact fitting under the elastic on top of the small drybag between my knees so is close to hand but also out of the way. It gets used for the obligatory selfie but also because the tripod legs can be attached allows for time lapses and the ‘paddling away’ shot or group piccy. If I am on flat water I always have this mount with me.
The gooseneck looks odd! And it suffers a lot from being pushed and moved when punching through surf. Not always, but it is prone to movement. It does the same job as the 360 mount but because it’s a little further from the boat almost gives the impression the camera isn’t attached. I haven’t used it all that much to be honest and is yet another bit of kit to take paddling. Notice the tether is on the camera and not the mount – I always attach it to the camera regardless of the mount.
My helmet mount doesn’t get used all that often as my lid doesn’t really have a space for a ‘sticky’. I think it’s because I’m not confident going in big waves yet. You can see from the picture where it is just by my feet. As the GoPro is so wide angle everything looks far away. Unless you are right in front of a huge wave it doesn’t look like anything particularly spectacular. If you could get in the tube or be punching through a massive wall then I think it would be good. Maybe this will be a mount I use as I get more confident (at least I hope I get more confident). As you can see in the double kayak I am right in front of the camera and it gives scale, so I think has worked for this shot.
Front right rear facing 360 mount
My front right rear facing 360 mount is the mount that gets used the most when surfing. It is always on the right hand side when facing backwards so the lens is away from my boat. The mount does suffer when paddling out through waves. Not as much as the gooseneck but it can be pushed down. It is no problem to scooch forward and adjust once you are out back beyond breaking surf. Or even give it a knock with your paddle. As for the shots it gets; it is in a perfect spot if you do get on a wave to catch any carnage. I find it amazing to see how the water gets frozen in ways that are too quick for the eye to see. And as always with GoPro if you face it into the sun I find it nearly always gets something dramatic.
I have found there are pros and cons to all GoPro mounts – what works for me may not work for you. As for settings I take video now and again but it is not my main thing, so I generally leave that. With photos, which is what I like best, I will set my cam to time lapse mode taking a photo every second or two, changing it to every 0.5 seconds for selfies. For surfing it is on 0.5 all of the time – stuff happens so fast in waves you can miss a lot with longer periods between shutter clicks. I always end up with thousands of shots which can be quite daunting to sift through at first. Once you get a system sorted though you can get through them quite quickly and find the good ones efficiently. I would rather throw away many to get that one magic pic than none at all.