RAM Mount X-Grip

The world of mobile photography continues to grow. And I’m not talking about taking pictures with a smartphone or tablet. I’m talking about the ability to use mobile technology to help in the workflow. Using tablets or smartphones and associated apps to help make photos or videos with a DSLR.

Digital photography is, for all intents and purposes, about 10 years old. It was in about March 2003 that the first mass market DSLR was introduced. That was the Canon 10D. Only 10 years. Photography had been around at that point for well over 100 years. In less than half the time since the 10D came out, an entirely new computing format has been born and matured.  The iPad hit the market in April 2010.  That new format is mobile – tablets and smartphones. And yes, I think that market has now, largely, matured.

There are all manner of apps available to use on these mobile devices to help us make photos. We tether the device to the camera, typically, via a USB connection and the app allows us to control the camera remotely. But then the question arises of how we keep the device connected to the camera but not have to hold onto it continuously. This is particularly an issue for longer exposure shots or timelapse sequences. That’s where the RAM Universal X-Grip Mount comes in.  I’ve been looking at various options for securing a smartphone or tablet to a tripod for a while as a part of a new book project I’m working on. These mounts from RAM Mounting Systems looked perfect and I have to thank the folks at RAM® for sending me a couple to evaluate.  While I was provided with these mounts at no cost, what follows is an objective assessment.  If you are a regular visitor to the site you know what I don’t accept advertising and don’t have any product sponsorships nor affiliate relationships and don’t shill to earn revenue.  If I review a product or piece of software, I’ll provide praise where warranted and criticism where needed.

X-Grip holding tablet on tripod

X-Grip holding tablet on tripod

The X-Grip comes in sizes to hold smartphones, 7″ tablets and 10″ tablets.  I’ve got the phone and 10″ tablet versions.  The mount comes with all the hardware needed and, in the configuration I’m using, a yoke clamp to attach the mount to a tripod or other, similar, support system.  This clamp will tighten down enough to even be used with the 15mm rails common on many video rigs.  This would enable the use of a tablet as an external monitor when shooting video.

The mounts are constructed of metal and high quality polycarbonate and, in this particular configuration, come with two universal ball joints.  Each of these ball joints has two notches to allow 90 degree positioning.  The two ball joints are adjusted with a single tension adjustment.  When I first got them, I was a bit skeptical of the single adjustment.  I thought I may want to adjust each separately.  But once I started using it, it became clear that two weren’t necessary.  While you’re adjusting the positioning, you always have your hand under the tablet or phone for support so the device won’t be flopping around at one end while you’re trying to position it at the other.  The single tension adjustment works very well.  Not just in terms of adjustability, but also in how well it holds the device in place.  The grip is absolutely secure and I could put a lot of stress on the ball joint without moving it at all.  Better than some tripod head ball joints I’ve seen.

X-Grip ball joints and yoke clamp

X-Grip ball joints and yoke clamp

The build quality is extremely good and both units appear quite sturdy and not at all flimsy.  The spring loading mechanism to hold the mobile devices is easy to use and holds the phone or tablet very securely.  The prongs that secure the device in place come with soft rubber covers to prevent damage to the mobile device.

The large tablet version comes with two supplementary arms that are intended to prevent the tablet from slipping when in portrait orientation.  These arms have to be installed yourself and that is a bit fiddly.  You have insert a loose nut then position the arm on a small ridge so that the nut doesn’t drop out.  Took me a few tries to get it done.  I don’t think they’re necessary; however, as the tension on the spring mount, combined with the grippy, soft rubber nubs, holds the tablet in that position just fine.

For storing and carrying, you can remove the clamp from the ball joint on the body of the mount which will allow the pieces to be carried separately if desired.  The yoke clamp has a 90 degree bend which, when attached to the mount body, does make for a bit of a larger set-up to pack away so packing them separately will help.  The clamps for both the phone and tablet mount are the same so if you’re on the road, you could save some space by just taking one clamp to use with both mounts.

Close-up of X-Grip holding tablet

Close-up of X-Grip holding tablet

Positioning the phone or tablet in the mount to ensure access to all ports, switches and rockers is simple.  This would not be the case with some other mounts out there that use a different clamping system with full rails along the top and bottom.  In addition to long exposures, timelapse and video, one of these would be quite useful in doing macro photography where the camera is often positioned low to the ground.  Using one of these mounts with a tablet or phone and the appropriate app would allow you to see your composition, achieve focus and shoot while being in a more comfortable position than on your belly, craning your neck trying to see through the viewfinder or use the camera LCD on a model where it doesn’t swivel (which is most).

The large tablet version sells for $115 in the configuration I’m using and the phone version goes for $51.  Given the build quality and adaptability of the mounts, and compared to what else is on the market, these are certainly good value for the money.  RAM has other tablet and phone mounting options as well.  I’m quite pleased with mine and I think you will be too.

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