Portable Camera Mounts

By Derek Ward, Published Aug 20, 2013, 12:00am EDT

When doing temporary deployments or testing out cameras, using portable mounts can make setup easier and quicker, especially when trying different spots or angles. At IPVM, we use a number of them as Nasty (Mod) Clamps [link no longer available] , Gorilla Pods, and Ram Mounts. This note reviews these portable camera mounts including their applications, tradeoffs and price.

Below is a picture of all three mounts set up in our office:

Overview

Tools such as these portable mounts save time in preparation for testing and installation, such as being able to:

  • Gather baseline measurements
  • Switch between cameras
  • Change angle of cameras to best fit the scene (Is it better to have this panoramic camera on the wall or ceiling?)

Another great aspect about these portable mounts is that you need no additional equipment to use them (such as screws, bolts, drills, etc). Form factor varies significantly between mounts, which offers the user a variety of options for a given task. Important to note, each manufacturer offers a wide variety of mounts and accessories, along with different package deals.

Below is a video overviewing the form factors of each portable mount.

Gorilla Pod

  • The gorilla pod is comprised of 3 sets of 10 rubber ball joints that terminate to a ~2in. mounting platform with a 1/4"-20 tripod screw.
  • GorillaPod SLR [link no longer available]: ~$30 USD online
  • Below is a picture demonstrating it's use in a real-life scenario:

Nasty Clamp (Mod Clamp)

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  • The Nasty Clamps (or Mod Clamps) are metal spring clamps that attach to a flexible "appendage" that ends with a 1/4"-20 tripod screw.
  • The heads of the Nasty Clamps can hold roughly 1lb" (~452 grams) outstretched, and more when the arm is underslung or straight up.
  • Single Nasty Clamp [link no longer available]: $44.00 USD [link no longer available] online
  • Below is a picture demonstrating it's use in a real-life scenario:

Ram Mount

  • The ram mount we are using has a twist lock suction cup base, double-socket arm, and a rubber ball mount with a 1/4"-20 tripod screw.
  • Ram Twist Lock Suction Cup Mount:  [link no longer available]~$30 USD online
  • Below is a picture demonstrating it's use in a real-life scenario:

Application

In our experience, these portable camera mounts have been helpful in short-term setups and tests, but we are unsure of their application over a long period of time (i.e. a few weeks/months). These are likely not suitable for permanent commercial installations, but if you want a quick look at what a certain scene looks like, these mounts can prove useful. Also, these mounts offer great versatility, such as being able to mount to an outside pole, window, or hangover ceiling or roof, lending for quick scene previews prior to proper installation.

Comparison

Given that pricing is roughly the same for all three portable mounts, knowing which mount works best in a given situation becomes key. Here are their comparative strengths.

  • Gorilla pods are mini tripods that allow for versatile mounting on a variety of terrain and surfaces. Small spaces (such as the one shown in the gorilla pod image) are handled well by the gorilla pods, as you can wrap the legs around an object, rather than having to stick or clamp to it. Prefered choice for unusually shaped objects.
  • Nasty Clamps (Mod Clamps) are suited for edges and poles that fit the space in the clamp mouth. With the ability to stretch the "arm", and add or remove sections as needed, Nasty Clamps usability excels when used on edges.
  • Ram Mounts are useful for sticking cameras to windows or flat surfaces when an edge is unavailable. Just note that the surface has to be flat, as a textured surface will not work with the suction cup. 

Conclusion

Security installers can find value in portable camera mounts. If an installer has to place cameras in an awkward or unusual location, these mounts are helpful. You do not need to be an expert to use any of these tools, which lends to residential use as well. These may not make for permanent solutions, but the time you save during setup and preliminary testing justifies the price tag.

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