I wanted to shoot some low angle video off my Yamaha motorcycle, so a method of protecting the 900 from gravel, micro debris and bugs was needed. Dual UV Tiffen filters would protect the lens. Protecting the body from dust, chipping, and the who-knows-what effects of a 70 mph slipstream required that I shroud the body somehow. The shroud would have to be tough, padded, and fit as snugly as possible. What follows is my admittedly weird but VERY effective solution.
1 one-qt insulated water bottle carrier Optional: 12" velcro strap 1 heavy nylon boot lace for use as a safety lanyard A soldering iron to melt access holes in bottle carrier above Optional: 1 new 2-liter plastic bottle of Diet Coke (no kidding!)
The 900 barely fit in the carrier. The fit is tight. The best way to insert the camcorder is to use the condom method. Turn the bottle carrier almost but not quite inside out. Slip the rear of the 900 into the circular carrier, orienting the carrier so that the storm flap is at the top or 12:00 position. Roll the case up and over the camcorder. If you attempt to slide the camcorder into the bag, the 900 will hang up at the rubber eyepiece, the switch, and the corner of the flash shoe. The fit is that tight. Despite the skin-tight fit, the case does not press upon any controls. The only concern I have is the deformation of the rubber eyepiece. As soon as I learn how to remove the rubber, that issue will go away.
The carrier is deep enough to contain the entire camcorder with NP950 battery mounted perfectly. Tuck the storm flap over the lens and inside the drawstring opening. Looks like it was factory designed to hold the trv900. No loose bagging, heavy outer shell. Let's call this the 'Transit Mode'.
To enter the 'hot mode', the drawstring is loosened, the flap extracted from the carrier, and the mouth of the carrier slid back and retightened so that the lens assembly, the two Tiffen UVs, and rubber hood and the storm flap protrudes. Wrap the Velcro strap round the lens assembly and the protruding storm flap. The strap forces the storm flap to conform to the lens assembly curve, forming a stiff baseball cap brim over the entire lens assembly. In other words, the storm flap becomes a large secondary lens hood.
Before creating the tripod and audio access holes in the carrier, it's time to use that 2 liter Diet Coke I mentioned. Wet the outside of the 2 liter bottle with very soapy water, and slide the carrier over the bottle. This will take some effort, but it will fit without harming the carrier. Use care to avoid agitating the Coke at this point, as the carrier is too tight a fit to accommodate a pressure-expanded bottle. One the Coke is all the way into the carrier, tighten the bottle cap, and shake the whole assembly like crazy. Do this outside, away from your electronics. The plastic bottle will expand 5%. The whole point of this exercise is to stretch the carrier as much as possible. I left the carrier sitting overnight, thoroughly rinsing and drying the unit the next day. The 900 will fit inside much easier after this odd exercise, and, depending on variations in production, you should be able to slide the camcorder into the carrier with ease instead of rolling the carrier onto the camcorder.
Total cost of the project was $14.00 for the bottle carrier, Velcro, boot lace and Coke. Time, about 30 minutes, not counting the overnight stretching exercise.
Final note: I considered an alternate cover, a stove bag made by the Peak camp stove company to pad their line of tiny camping stoves. The bag had a drawstring/cordlock assembly, but was very loose and had no outer attachment loop. The outer shell was very thin sateen nylon, and baggy, too. Flutter appeared to be a certainty. The melting of holes in the thin skin looked like it would be tricky. $7 at Galyan's.
Saunders Photo imports a line of small tough Cordura lens bags sold under the brand name OutPack Lens Duffel. The OutPack Lens Duffels are very similar to the 1-qt water bottle carrier I recommended in my project, except the diameter of the lens duffel is about 1" greater. No stretching, no rolling on, no hassle. The lens duffels are not baggy, though, and the stiff Cordura shell isn't going to flutter in the breeze. The OutPacks have the sewn on belt loop, and a drawstring with cordlock. What the OutPacks don't have is the storm flap or the padding that runs all the way up to the drawstring on the bottle carrier. The OutPack uses an unpadded Cordura collar at the drawstring, so, their literature states, to insure the tightest possible closure. Does the OutPack seal tighter? Yep! Do I wish that the padding went all the way to the string? Yep!
The OutPack comes in 3 sizes: 6"($12) , 9" ($15) and a 12" ($18) for your submarine sandwiches. The 12 is too big, the 6 will not fully enclose the camera and lens, the 9 would completely cover the camcorder, but required that the drawstring collar be rolled back on itself before the drawstring was used to cinch the bag around the base of the lens. I spent an hour fitting the two sizes to my 900 before opting for the 6". The 6" OutPack looked like it was made just for the purpose I would use it. There was no bagging, no excess length, and the duffel sealed beautifully at the base of the lens. I should note that the lack of padding on the collar may be a moot point, as the gathers from the drawstring closure form a rather formidable pad of their own. What I had hoped for was a formfitting padded dust proof jacket.
The OutPack Lens Duffel comes in the 3 sizes noted, in black, blue and olive drab. The closure collar on all three colors is black. I chose the blue for a reason. After I had melted a 1" slot for the tripod screw, I neatly outlined the zoom rocker and the on/off/REC area with black permanent marker. I found I could easily manipulate these controls without creating more holes in the duffel. (The OutPack is roomy enough to cover an external mic cord). OutPack (and Domke) is distributed by Saunders Photo. The website is saundersphoto.com.
I played with the bottle carrier and the OutPack for an hour or so before deciding that I liked the OutPack better than the bottle carrier, mostly because of the ease of entry with the slightly looser OutPack.
(Mounting hardware shown includes Bogen "Super Clamp" and 3025 "3-D Head", see this page.)
There is a difference in video quality determined by the mount point of the camera. I try to mount on the suspended motorcycle frame, but have on one occasion clamped the rig to the lower fork assembly. Tire vibration and road surface granularity were evident, but not disqualifying.
A bigger problem is wind buffet at higher speed, which is why the robust mount and tight-fitting cover are important. Also, a small bowtie stereo mike must be tucked out of the slipstream or audio becomes loud white noise. Before I lost mine, I used a tiny stereo bowtie that had came with an Aiwa walkman, and clipped it under the seat where it couild pick up a mix of tranmission whine, tire whrrr, and engine exhaust note.
I found that placing the camera where part of the motorcycle structure was visible gave a much more dramatic effect. My best shots were rearward, being chased down by a serious sportbike driver.