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Thread: Windshield Mounts for Video (with Test Footage)

  1. #1
    HPT Employee Weston@HPTuners's Avatar
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    Windshield Mounts for Video (with Test Footage)

    We're often asked to recommend the best windshield mount to use for shooting video with TrackAddict. The problem is that what works well for one device often isn't so great for another... Some mounts don't fit certain devices very well (often due to button placement), and some devices or their cameras are far more susceptible to vibrations and wobbles than others. In addition to video quality, this can also impact the accuracy or smoothness of your G-force accelerometer readings.

    I've recently set out to revisit this and find a solid, no-nonsense, mounting solution that works well for a variety of smartphones. To cut to the chase, my new preference going forward is the PanaVise 809 Suction Cup with the iStabilizer smartMount (described and pictured further below).

    Update: It seems more difficult and costly to find the iStabilizer these days (late 2018), but this device from Vastar is of the same design: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00WFNNNCC

    Here's some test footage from a Nexus 5 and then a Samsung Galaxy S5, captured using a few different mounting solutions:

    YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8nJ354QjgI

    The Nexus 5 was chosen because it is fairly susceptible to wobble, which helps make it easier to see the difference between mounts. The Galaxy S5 is generally better at getting stable footage and can get a good result with a wider variety of mounts. These were ~55 MPH highway tests; any wobble you see here could be a bit worse under race track conditions.

    The mounts used in this video were:

    A) Bracketron IPM-495-BL sticky suction cup mount
    Popular choice, simple, and inexpensive. Video stability has been good with some phones, but wobbly with some others. Make sure the suction cup doesn't have dirt or junk stuck to it, or it may fall off of your windshield.
    Note: The video showed this mount with the Nexus 5, but not the Galaxy S5

    B) RAM X-Grip w/ suction cup mount
    Another popular choice, but some phones might need to be mounted off-center to avoid having their buttons pressed. Video stability has been good with some phones, but wobbly with some others.

    C) PanaVise Model 809 suction cup + iStabilizer smartMount (Smartphone Tripod Adapter)
    This setup is my new preference. It gave me pretty stable footage in the most situations, felt solid, and fit different phones pretty well. It's also an easy way to mount a Qstarz BT-Q818XT GPS (for Android), using some industrial strength Velcro on the top of the iStabilizer.
    Important: For best results, use the mounting point in the center of the back side of the iStabilizer, like pictured below
    PanaVise 809 and iStabilizer - small.jpgCameraMount - PanaVise 809 and iStabilizer - with Qstarz GPS - cropped and adjusted.jpg


    Your mileage may vary, and race track conditions can differ from this simple highway test. The quality of video footage is mainly influenced by three things:

    1) Mount: You want it to be sturdy, firmly attached to the vehicle/windshield, and to hold your device snugly. Generally, you'll want it to be more compact and have everything positioned closely together, rather than to have the device attached on long arms or bars. Suction cup mounts can work very well, but ones that have an adhesive on the cup may be problematic due to junk getting stuck to that after installing and removing it several times.

    2) Device & Camera: The quality of your device's camera, the focus modes it supports, its stabilization hardware/software (if any), camera location, and it's overall physical weight.

    3) Conditions: Try to avoid excess vibration, objects in the camera's view, dirt or pits on windshield, etc.
    Last edited by Weston@HPTuners; 05-16-2016 at 01:05 PM. Reason: Updated

  2. #2
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    Hi, thanks for the info.
    Have you found any better alternative in the 2 months since you made this post?
    I would ideally like to use my mount on the road (as well as the track), and just looked up the legality http://blog.proclipusa.com/are-sucti...in-your-state/
    In WA it is *technically* illegal to mount on the windshield. http://pugetsoundblogs.com/roadwarri...cally-illegal/ CR makes it sound scarier http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/n...rightYear=2016 I add these links for anyone investigating using a mount on the street like I am.
    Do you think the PanaVise with the iStabilizer would easily mount on a Miata dash? Would the suction in you opinion degrade with frequently undoing and re-doing the suction, if you know what I'm sayin? I'm tentatively planning on mounting it out of the line of distraction, and crossing my fingers. Maybe.
    Thanks for your great app -- will try it soon.

  3. #3
    HPT Employee Weston@HPTuners's Avatar
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    Not much new to report... I've since used the PanaVise 809 + iStabilizer with both the Motorola Moto G (3rd gen) and the LG G5 with good results, and it's consistently much smoother than other mounting options I've tried. On the LG G5, the narrow camera was very prone to wobbles when used in a vehicle, but this mount combination was much better than others; its wide-angle camera seemed to be pretty stable regardless of the mount. Ideally, I'd like to find something a little more protective for the phone than the iStabilizer, as it sometimes doesn't work with phones that have a case on them (mainly due to the thickness), but it hasn't been a big deal in my experience, and I haven't come across anything better yet.

    I'm not sure about mounting to the dash, being that suction cup mounts depend on a smooth flat surface (like glass or painted metal), and vinyl/leather/etc dashboards usually don't fit that description. You could in theory also use the iStabilizer on another mounting device that provides a standard tripod mount, so a roll-bar or harness-bar attachment would be one idea. I have not had good results with camera attachments that clamp onto a seat headrest, though (seats tend to wobble more than you might expect).

    As for the wear on the suction cup, I'd have to expect things to wear out over time, but I've seen pretty good results from the PanaVise 809 and similar designs (ie one giant suction cup)... I've recently spent some time with a television crew that used them extensively to mount bullet cameras on cars, and the few times I saw them pop off was when the surface was not clean or flat (in some cases, it was a flexible surface, like on a polyurethane bumper). I also have another identical PanaVise mount of my own from 10+ years ago, and have used it to mount external cameras on race cars for many years with no problems. I did, however, have issues with a mount that consisted of three smaller suction cups... one would eventually pop off during a race. The single cup design seems to do much better, but it's also only a single point of failure, so that's something to keep in mind. As with any suction cup mount, it's important to clean the inside of the cups, and to have a clean surface to attach it to. I'd also note that you probably want to stay away from designs that use adhesive on the inside of the cup, as that can get dirty and degrade in performance pretty fast.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the detail, all makes sense and helps me and other readers. I have a 6s (iphone) with a thin Anker case. I think I'm going to get a Hard Dog roll bar -- maybe I can rig it stable on that.

  5. #5
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    I use the Ram X grip with my Samsung S4 back facing camera (the non screen side). Footage comes out pretty good. I have the mount slightly rested on the dash, so that helps with limiting the vibrations. I have also had it mounted up high on the windshield and no excessive vibrations with my phone.