About Me

Wells, BC, Canada
Richard is a working photographer and writer in B.C. His camera focuses on natural history. archeology, travel, and documentary photography. His photography blog may be found at: http://richardtwright.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to build a Truck Console camera mount

I live in a small town of 250 people in the mountains of British Columbia. For grocery shopping, banking, hay for my mule and most anything else, I have to drive 85 kms, about one hour.  The route to "town" is frequented by wildlife.  In the months of April through early July it would be unusual not to see black bear and moose, and often mountain caribou or grizzly. Blacks and grizzly often walk through town, though not so much this year for some reason.  It is seldom I drive anywhere around here without seeing moose.
So, I never leave my cameras at home. My backpack with various lenses and a D7000 body is on the front seat of my 1 Ton pickup and my D800 with a Nikkor 70-200 f4, mounted used to be packed nearby within easy reach, but protected by a jacket or blanket.  Like anyone who does this I have experienced my camera and lens rolling onto the floor. So I needed a solution offering quick access and protection.

By chance I ended up with an extra base 357 Manfrotto Universal Sliding Plate base. This is used for the 393 Manfrotto Gimbal and for some video camera mounts. One day I noticed that the depression in my between-seat console was about the size and shape of the plate base.  An idea came to mind.  Mount the base receiver to the console and the plate to the camera, which it normally was,  and presto I should have a mount.

After about an hour of playing around finding the right bolts (remember town is an hour away), some rigid foam for a filler and drilling some test holes I came up with this system.

Console of a Dodge Ram 1 Ton. Driver's seat is at top so the mount is at my right side,
with the mount facing forward. The knob on the far side is a lock-down and
the brass button on the near side is a safety which must be pushed for plate release.

The mount has to have enough clearance for the release knob to swing down, so I had to shim it up a little. The three washers just hold the foam in the console lid depression.

Lens and camera mounted on the Manfrotto plate.
Does it work? Absolutely. It took a few tries to make the release swift as I have to reach across the lens to press the brass safety, but it is becoming second nature.  I have now put several hundred kilometres on the mount and nothing is coming loose. If the road is too rough I can, of course, remove the camera, as I may for long journeys, but generally it is proving very useful. Or, I can stuff some foam under the lens. A quick release, a bean bag on the window and I'm ready to shoot, or to step out of the truck if possible for a hood or tripod rest.

The base and plate (357PL)were ordered from Manfrotto Canada and shipped from Amplis Foto Inc. Cost was $65 Cdn plus shipping and taxes.

Below are a couple of roadside examples of why I like this mount and the potential subjects.

Moose in a roadside swamp. Richard Wright photo.

Black bear feeding on spring plants at roadside. Richard Wright photo.
April 11, 2013 - Update. Having just returned from a 6-week trip thought the US southwest I can again say this idea worked well and was really efficient. The only issue is to remember to remove it and stash the camera or carry it if you are leaving the vehcile. Now I need to find a way to make something similar for my 200-400mm Nikkor.

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