Fstoppers Reviews the Delkin Fat Gecko
Clever camera angles and captivating b-roll are important when making a solid and complete video product. When you’re on the move in a car, dune buggy, sailboat or tank, great videographers create enthralling footage by capturing unusual angles and movement. The Delkin Fat Gecko shines as a low-cost, effective suction mount for any slick surface that allows you to get your camera in the face of the mobile action.
The Delkin Fat Gecko is a simple and unassuming product that has one designated purpose: suction it to any non-porous surface to make a stable shooting point for photos or video. Built with a combination of hard plastic and aluminum, the Fat Gecko is lightweight, surprisingly sturdy, and most importantly, reliable. Because let’s face it, none of us want to see our expensive camera equipment smashed to bits onto the ground while speeding down a side street or over a dune, or lost to the waves while surfing, kite boarding, or yachting with Bruce Wayne.
The suction mounts and the build of whole of the body work and feel great. The suction is surprisingly strong. On a number of occasions, I was grunting with effort to get the suctions to release from the places I stuck the Fat Gecko. I tried wood, ceramic, steel, aluminum, and glass. The less porous the surface, the better the Gecko stuck. Stained and sealed wood (like you might find on a coffee table) worked pretty well. A Target bookcase however, was less effective. That’s to be expected as the lines and grooves in the particleboard let considerable air into the vacuum suction of the Gecko’s pads. Steel and aluminum worked extremely well. The Gecko will most often be employed attached to the side of a vehicle, so it’s a good thing this test proved that the main selling point of the product was a success. But far and away, the best surface to mount the Fat Gecko has to be glass. Stuck to the front of a windshield, on a sliding door, against a window, you name it, the Gecko held strong and didn’t flinch for hours. I took a five hour drive around the East Bay (San Francisco area for you non-Californians) with the Fat Gecko stuck to the inside of my cab window and it didn’t budge, even after numerous adjustments to the positioning and camera over the course of the test.
Areas for Improvement
The solid plastic and metal parts of the Gecko are very sturdy, but the suction mount can be where this product shows a little “wobble,” which comes from the style of mount and, of course, the price point. If you look at how a suction cup works, it requires that the cup itself be flexible to accommodate creating that vacuum. With the Gecko, no matter how tight you make the suction, it will always be able to sway slightly with vibrations because of that flexibility. So bumps in the road, wind, and engine vibration can cause some shaking that varies in severity depending on your vehicle and speed. Based on the performance of Tamron’s Vibration Compensation, I am certain the “wobble” that occurs can be eliminated with the use of one of Tamron’s lenses. The IS on the Canon 24-105mm L didn’t seem to do much in terms of vibration reduction, but that was rather expected.
Reducing the “wobble” on the suction would require additional suction pads, a larger rig, and a larger footprint. Somewhere between four and six pads spread over about a two-foot diameter might reduce the “wobble” of the pads, but it wouldn’t eliminate the movement of a vehicle over the road. It is when you are really paying attention that you realize how bumpy streets can be. I honestly don’t find the movement of the suction pads to be all that extreme, and the compact size of the Gecko is one of its prime selling points. In other words, I’m glad this rig isn’t bigger, and it performs just fine for my taste. Let’s get real: even if you use this for shooting video and it moves slightly, you only need between 3 and 5 seconds of solid, wobble-less footage at a time. Anything more, and the video can get rather boring. The Gecko is more than capable of this feat.
Why you should get it
To be honest, pretty near none of us need to shoot video out of (or on) a car on a regular basis. This sort of shot is for a select few projects. But when we need it, we really need it, and the Gecko delivers at a great price point.
For those times you aren’t shooting a chase scene for the next Fast and Furious, the Gecko has other uses. Because it is so sturdy and can mount to any slick surface, you can use the Gecko as a lightweight tripod that can get into spots you would not normally be able to utilize. Attach it to a window in a corner, a steel refrigerator in a kitchen, hardwood floors or tables, the list goes on. Being enlisted to shoot weddings, caterings, and events is common these days, and often the venues are not conducive to the large footprint of a stable carbon fiber tripod. Throw the Gecko up on a high window with your DSLR and a remote trigger, and you can capture great wide angle room shots that are uncommon and can set you apart from your competitors.
If you like to use natural light for your interview video shoots (like I do), you can get a great angle by sticking the Gecko directly to the window casting your key light, allowing for a stable shot that tripods often can’t replicate, especially if there is a sill that sticks out. The compact size can squeeze into locations previously unavailable to you.
The Fat Gecko by Delkin is a great product. It performs as advertised and is perhaps more versatile than it appears because it isn’t advertised as anything more than a mount for video. However, with a little ingenuity, it can totally be more. Just keep in mind that suction pads don’t have endless lifespans. Though I wasn’t able to confirm this (because I don’t plan to take a couple years to produce a review), suction pads can dry out, crack and become brittle over time. If you store the Gecko in a cool location out of the sun, you should be ok. All that said, for $70, this is a no brainer. Even if you only plan to use it once, you’ll get your money’s worth. But my bet is that you’ll find yourself using it again and again due to its light weight and solid build.