Advanced Techniques

Importance of Holding An Action Cam Horizontally

Written by Mihajlo Filipovic

The importance of holding an action cam horizontally can not be stressed enough. Action cams are nice but tiny. They weigh next to nothing, have small form factor, and can be usually taken just about anywhere, being mostly well-protected against elements. You can use them in most situations, bringing first-hand experience to people, to learn, enjoy, and to delight in action.

Every day a new model arrives, featuring even better specifications and capabilities. At the end of the day, the way operators handle the cams will matter the most.

Technical quality of the video is augmented and sometimes even surpassed by the ability of the cam operator to correctly record, whatever the theme.

Action Cam

This sjcam is 2″ on a side (43.1×44.3×48.2 mm). It weighs 48g (1.7 oz) without battery and 64g (2 1/4 oz) with battery.

And keeping cameras horizontal is correct; excepting maybe some high-action scenes where stable point  of view is impossible. Keeping a action cam horizontal is not easy, but will be important in some recording modes, like in photo or video-lapse scenes.

Use a bubble level to hold an action cam horizontally

Here is a little helper you can arrange yourself to be able to setup and/or hold an action cam horizontally whenever it is required or possible. It also helps a lot with setting up the camera to your tripod or camera clamp, if you’re planning to shoot a photo or video-lapse sequences.

Bubble levels are dirt cheap on Ebay, for instance. A package of ten of those will cost about $1.29 – including free international shipping! There are many sizes and types of bubble levels from which to choose. Some are button-like, fashioned to replace the hot shoe covers on your photo camera. Others are small tubular thingies, which can help keep your action cam in horizontal position.

I have superglued a small tubular bubble level to the relatively protected spot on my cam casing between the casing hatch and protective rims surrounding the cam’s top commands. Since the bubble level tube, cam casing and superglue are all acrylic, this was actually a chemical welding that resulted in very solid bond.

How to install the bubble level

First I cleaned the bubble level and the place on the cam casing to remove all fat residue, such as fingerprints. To clean an acryllic surface take care never to use alcohol or cleaners that contain alcohol, benzene or similar solvents. Use a drop of dish washing gel in small glass of warm water to wipe the connecting spots thoroughly. Wash in running warm water and let thoroughly dry.

Then I used three drops of superglue to fix the bubble level to the cam casing. One drop goes below the level, and two between it and the command pin protective rims. Pressed the bubble level firmly in place and then left it be for half an hour, giving the glue solvent time to completely evaporate.

Your action cam casing may look different from the one pictured, but the principle is the same for any model. Just place the bubble level somewhere safe on the camera where you can see it from all positions, and it will work well. If you bought, say, a package of ten bubble levels, you’ll find it useful to add some also to your tripod head, and maybe other cam accessories – even to your photo camera.

The ideas for application will come by themselves, generally reducing your post-processing  time spent on corrections.

About the author

Mihajlo Filipovic

Fil worked in informatics running a computing centre and as a pro photographer for the Croatian Water Management (ambiental and tech photography, and photo editor for the company magazine). Fil has been a diver-photographer for about 40 years, amateur most of the time and pro for several months on an assignment in hydrogeology.

Now retired, Fil lives with his wife, a painter and photographer, at Lake Ohrid, in Macedonia.