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11-18-2012, 04:32 PM   #1
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Gunstock Camera Mount

Having always been a gearhead, when I got my first SLR camera taking pictures at motor racing events was something that was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Of course at the first few events it was obvious that to get better shots I was going to need a longer lens. I stepped up to a 90~230mm telephoto lens.

Still not close enough.

So a friend recommended a Sigma 600mm mirror lens that was available for a reasonable price.

Well the next thing I discovered was that it is very difficult to follow race cars rocketing along at speeds 2 to 3 times the speed limit, focus, compose and shoot.

I had seen various "sport mounts" available in photography magazines, designed primarily for wildlife photography. I looked into them and found the manufacturers were quite proud of their products. Being mechanically inclined, and having started my adult life as an engineer I thought why not build one?

So I made some sketches, worked through some of the obvious problems and decided on what is pictured here. My first step was to acquire a rifle stock. I went to my local gunsmith and started asking about rifle stocks. It just so happened that the guy had been working on a very nice rifle stock and modifying it for a different receiver. The router he was using caught the wood wrong and broke the stock, just forward of where I ultimately cut it off. Rather than having to buy a stock and hack it up for my purposes, he gave me this one for free.

Timing is everything.

My next stop was a place called Boeing Surplus in Kent, WA. Since the aircraft manufacturer was based in the Seattle area, they had a facility in the industrial area near Kent where all manner of aircraft ephemera could be had for cheap. A few bits of aircraft grade aluminum plate, some angle, then off to the hardware store for the fasteners.

By this time in my life I had finished serving an apprenticeship as a mechanic and was employed at the .local electric utility. The vehicle maintenance shop was well outfitted, and lent itself well to machining the aluminum to build the support for the camera body and lens. After making all the bits and assembling them, a stop at the local camera shop for a cable release for the shutter. I drilled a hole in the stock and the cable fit perfectly right where a trigger would be if it was still a rifle. (Some of you may notice that it is missing in the picture. For the life of me I cannot find it!)

Now it was time to test out my handiwork.

I got quite a few raised eyebrows when I would pull the thing up to my shoulder and begin to pan with the cars as they went by. I have not used it since September 11, 2001, but I can imagine that the trigger happy law enforcement personnel might be inclined to look upon me more suspiciously than they did in the years before.

Now I need to dig the slides out and scan a few to share here.

Stay tuned.

But don't hold your breath please, I have other stuff to do too!

11-18-2012, 04:37 PM   #2
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Hee. They're far less relevant in an age of autofocus, but the idea's been around a long time: if you look at old Novoflex products, they had the same idea. (the key was really their sort of spring-loaded focusing mechanism you could squeeze or relax with your steadying hand.) You don't really *need* that, since unlike a firearm, you can support a camera with your *head* as well, but if it's comfy for you, there you go.

(And the 'getting shot' factor was present, too, back in the day as well, btw. Once when America had more mystique, people thought you could be putting laser beams in there and stuff. )
11-18-2012, 04:44 PM   #3
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The Russians did it in the Photosniper kit, with a Tair 300mm. That one had a trigger to trip the shutter.
11-18-2012, 05:41 PM   #4

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call me crazy, but you'll be a lot less likely to get shot by the police with this:

I got one used for $10.00

11-18-2012, 07:58 PM   #5
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I made one from scratch years ago while in the military (Middle 70s) for my k1000. I had access to a woodworking shop and a Sargent that was very helpful in using the tools safely. My second outing I received a warning from the MP's. I put it up. I might still have it but after all these years and moves and law enforcement /society the way it is It will stay put away if I even still have it.
The one DOn shows looks a lot safer.
11-18-2012, 08:05 PM   #6
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by D0n Quote
call me crazy, but you'll be a lot less likely to get shot by the police with this:

I got one used for $10.00
If I could get one of the commercially available models that cheaply I would not hesitate. I only have about that much in the setup I show here.

The Bush Hawk setups go for $300 to $400, depending on the options selected.
11-18-2012, 10:06 PM   #7

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I have this thingy (not sure what it's called) for a long time, very solidly made by Kirk. I don't use it that much, preferring a monopod:

11-19-2012, 05:06 AM   #8
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Novoflex example mentioned above:

A bit of detail:

The stock has an adapter that is similar to a tripod quick release which allows it to attach to the tripod mount of any camera. The stock known as Pistock-C is polyurethane or polycarbonate and the metal collar bits are aluminum so quite light. The company has modified it form the original late 70s early 80s stock known by the same name so it can now be rotated used as a reasonably stable chest rest with the strap around the neck for movie making and thereby widening the potential customer base. Well made but $190 or so from Novoflex suppliers.

A bonus was the strap that was supplied with the stock. At first I thought the strap was a bit cheap but it is Novoflex and when examined further I realised it has a unique quick release system that allows it to be removed and reattached speedily for when the camera and rig is placed on a tripod. Strap now lives permanently on my K20D.

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