New camera mount for Pole Aerial Photography (PAP)

I have recently been thinking how to improve my PAP rig. So far it has been a bit of a bodge. I have taken an 8m fiberglass fishing pole bought from Aldi, taken off the top section and gaffer taped a pound shop mini camera tripod to the top. Not very elegant and often failed to hold the camera in the correct position. The only thing that worked well was the camera running Stereo Data Maker (SDM) and a script to take a photo every few seconds.

Camera mount Mk1

So I gave the problem a bit of thought, had a dig about in the cellar, found some bits and pieces that I though I could use.  There followed a bit of prototyping, a bit of drawing and a lot of holding the camera and pole, before I came to the realisation that I mainly use the pole with the camera in either a horizontal position, or pointing straight down. The best way to get the vertical shots without including myself (or just my feet) in the photo is to tip the pole forward. I therefore needed a mount with two alternate camera positions. One parallel to the ground when the pole is vertical, and the other at 45 degrees so that if I tip the pole forward at 45 degrees (a comfortable angle to hold the pole) the camera will be vertical. The latter is versatile as when the pole is vertical the 45 degree tilt of the camera is ideal for producing oblique views.

Next how to attach the mount to the pole.

This needed to be sturdy, not cause damage to the pole, be easy to use, portable and secure. Here is my solution.

The mount consists of an 8mm aluminium rod joined to a bent 20mm x 2mm aluminium bar. The rod sits in the end of the pole. I had to loose another pole section to do this reducing the length to 6.25m, but that has actually made it easier to handle. A piece of cork added to the rod prevents the mount chipping the top of the rod and also helps to stop it rotating. A velcro strap holds the mount tight against the pole, again to stop it rotating. This is helped by a foam pad added to the mount. Similar pads on the top help hold the camera in place. The camera is held in place with camera keepers from the KAP Shop. The weight of the camera is shared between each point of contact, both internally and externally.

The tests so far have shown that the mount is a vast improvement; is stable and reliable. I even tried it with my DSLR using the bottom thicker sections of the pole and it performed well even with the extra weight.

Kirkstall Abbey

I made this 3D model from 147 vertical images taken using the DSLR. Click on the image to see an interactive version.

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