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Friday, 05 February 2016


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I use my Quick Release ALL THE TIME on my Manfrotto for my Canon 5Dsr.
It is SO cool and easy.
Why didn't I think of that and make a million?

mi dos pesos X2

The neat grip you can buy for the new Pen-F has Arca-Swiss standard ridges.
Downside is that the durn grip has a typical Olympus-accessory price to go with it! Boosts the already pricey camera's price by like 13%. (Not 1/13th, sadly.) And it's virtually required if you are going to use any big lenses. Dang their hide.

So-called universal mounting plates do fit a wide variety of cameras. The one I bought was from Really Right Stuff, and so far I've been able to use it with every camera I've owned, from a Nikon V1 to an EOS 60D and everything in-between.

Regardless of what type you buy, what's most important is that it have a lip along the rear edge that fits flush against the back of your camera. This will prevent the camera from tilting downward and loosening if you add a long or heavy lens while the camera is in vertical orientation. Trust me: A loose mounting plate is NOT something you want to let happen.

I suspect there are two reasons why camera manufacturers do not design in the ridge that would support the pseudo-standard Arca-style mounting system you describe: historical momentum of providing the threaded mounting stud (and if the manufacturer sold or bundled a tripod as a package it was always inferior), but more importantly the waning use of tripods, generally. I have no data to support this only my direct experience and observations and I am sure that the major tripod system manufacturers (e.g. RRS, Kirk, Acratech, Gitzo, and even Arca-Swiss) might disagree. I suspect that even some landscape photographers who historically used a tripod are using them less? Why? The generally harried nature photography has become in the Internet age: photo sharing sites, videos on how to process your images in 5 minutes or less, presets, "I'll fix it post" behavior, and the decline in the physical print. (I didn't think a column about the virtues of a universal tripod mounting system would end up with my extrapolation into the state of photography 😊.)

You might want to read this recent post by Thom Hogan: http://www.sansmirror.com/newsviews/bravo-olympus.html

The RRS quick release is the best if you use this feature a lot, reason is that the release lever folds flat to the clamp to protect it. the other screw type that you would leave on your tripod sticks out so it can get damaged or bent traveling etc.

Thom Hogan has a 1/21/16 piece complimenting Olympus for integrating QR plates in the new 300mm f4 foot and the Pen F grip. You're right about the niggling little problems accompanying the quick release scheme, which is otherwise a wonderful solution to the larger problem of damping camera motion. Perhaps the resolution is in sight.

Absolutely the best idea of the month! As a previous LF photographer, it has been decades since I actually screwed a camera onto a tripod. The Arca style clamp is near universal these days, with the exception of Manfrotto, who obstinately refuses (so I'm told) to let go of their hideous pentagon style clamp. Now a Sony user, I still have a mounting plate on the camera.

The small add-on grip (ECG-4) for the just-announced Olympus Pen F has a base already grooved for Arca QR, for about $130.

You're forgetting all the tripod heads such as Manfrotto or Benro, et al, that come with (sometimes multiple variations of) proprietary built-in QR plates.

Olympus gets kudos for integrating Arca-Swiss plates into their recent grip products. I get one of these clamps every time I buy a tripod head.

Not only are Arca Swiss clamps and brackets useful, but they have evolved into my single most useful photo accessory, the L-bracket , which in addition to keeping the mass of the camera over the tripod head, provides 2 flat 90 degree registration surfaces turning any vertical or horizontal surface into a support. I use it that way All the time.

Having fumbled around with the dorky plates that Manfrotto and others use, I would endorse the Arca style plate with two thumbs up.
However, the Arca style plate do have two issues. The first is that they do not feel that great on the hands ( you get used to it) and second, when manufacturers make them slightly out of spec. Then they wobble a bit or are had to unmount from the tripod head.

what's cheaper about the Kirk 4"? I don't see it. Now Giotto, different story, and a plate to boot.

[The Fuji grip plate is just the plate--you still need a clamp to use it with. The Kirk 4" is a clamp. --Mike]

Getting rid of the tripod hole ... there are some people out there who don't use Arca-Swiss clamps on their tripods :)

Actually, I'm known to do that myself. My big tripod is a set of Bogen legs with an A-S head, but I have a little Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod that I use with my mirrorless camera from time to time and it uses a square Manfrotto QR plate.

I bought a 3rd party machined handle unit for my Fuji X-100S for $13.95. It's a beautiful accessory adding some weight and making handling so much better.
The Fuji unit sells for something like $113.00! Yikes.
So are Fuji accessories THAT much better? I seriously doubt it.
Just saying.
Mi dos pesos.

Hey Mike,
I found an L-plate for my XT1 eBay for less than $50.00 that works well with Arca Swiss clamps including Really Right Stuff. It matches the XT1 with a precise fit and the short side of the L is removable if you prefer not to use it with the camera.

Olympus has an add-on grip for the new Pen F that is slotted for a quick release. I found a similar grip on eBay for my E-M5. Since those small cameras benefit from a larger grip, this is a good solution. But a larger camera with a slotted baseplate would be nice.

Perfectly logical, Hasselblad did it, but then look what happened to them.

> To attach your camera to the tripod, just loosen the screw on the clamp...

That's true of Arca-style QRs but not all. Those from Manfrotto and Velbon, for example, use a locking lever.


For my X-Pro I bought a no-name (Chinese) L-bracket with grip. All the bracket edges are machined for the standard quick release and there is a cut out for the battery and card chamber. It's a bit chunky, but I think the grip makes it worthwhile even when I am not using a tripod.

Speaking of Acratech,I have one of their ball heads and that plate. They don't pay me to endorse them, but their stuff is REALLY good. Prior to purchasing I called them to discuss my needs. They were very helpful. It was a very pleasant buying experience and the items I purchased have been rock solid and precise.

Quick release plates are a necessary evil, especially for outdoor/nature/landscape photography where the camera is basically welded to a tripod. The custom-machined aluminum plates for various bodies and longer lenses make all the difference in ready usability and stability. But it's more than a little annoying, having to budget for another ~$80 for what's basically a hunk of aluminum.
Given that the Arca-Swiss style plate is the nearly universal standard, at least for outdoor photography, it would surely be logical for camera makers to build the dovetail into the camera bodies and lenses. CaNikon don't make anything from the money going to Kirk, Really Right Stuff and all the other vendors selling these things.

I like to test a lot of different cameras. I have used or tested at least 14 different cameras in the past 1.5 years.

I still bought a dedicated RRS L plate for my Canon 7DII last year. I use that for events and wildlife, often with heavy lenses, and planned to keep it for the long term.

I have some small, generic $6 flat plates that I use on most of my mirrorless cameras. I also have a slightly more expensive Kirk bottom plate that has a front/ rear "lip", which holds alignment under more torque.

And I have a $39 generic L plate that I use on my "second tier" or temporary DSLR bodies.

I am on my phone right now and I don't want to use this. I will try to post a link to the plates that I bought at Amazon.

I also bought about 5 lightweight Arca Swiss compatible clamps thst I use on various devices with small cameras. A Zacuto Target Shooter, my Lens Align focus testing target, etc.

Cameras, FYI:

Nikon Df, D750, D7200, D5300, D5500. Canon 7DII, SL1, EOS M, EOS M3. Sony A7II, A6000. Panasonic G7, GH4, GM5. Fuji XE-2, X-M1. Samsung NX500.

The quick release plate on my RRS L-Bracket has an opening for the battery doors on my XT1, XE2, and X-Pro1. So someone is paying attention to this issue.

Here is a small, generic Desmond 25 plate at Amazon, for $8.95:


The fit in my RRS lever clamps is a little loose. I prefer the Kirk version, with a small "lip" for extra stability, but I can't find it now. I think the Kirk was about $20?

Here is the $18.95 generic Fotga L plate that I have. It works quite well on most cameras for light use:


I had S.K. Grimes machine replacement baseplates (which include Arca-style dovetails) for my two Ebony cameras. Doing so not only achieved all the advantages discussed in your post, it eliminated the flexing and vibration in windy conditions that occurred when narrow Really Right Stuff rails were attached to the stock Ebony baseplates. As it turns out, titanium is extremely strong in shear, but doesn't resist bending forces very well.

Here are a couple of pictures showing how things turned out:

Custom Ebony baseplates

SV57 baseplate profile

Note that I use a Really Right Stuff lever-release clamp. The newest versions of those clamps automatically adjust for varying width of different manufacturers' Arca-style plates. Since my custom baseplates were made before the clamp update, I had Grimes machine them to precisely match the dovetail dimensions of Really Right Stuff plates.

Hmm - I'm confused. I have many quick release plates for various Manfrotto and Giottos heads. I use them on Fuiis, Canon 5D's and Leicas with no problem whatsoever, battery compartments or not. I don't have any octagonal ones - the plates for my big geared heads are rectangular, but really I don't use them for the Fuji, although they certainly don't get in the way of the battery compartment on the Canon.

Another source I didn't see mentioned is www.hejnarphotostore.com. I just received a nodal rail and lens plate from there. Top notch work, made in USA, a little better pricing than some of the big names.

I have an L-bracket from RRS which is a pleasure to use, along with a lever clamp from the same source. Two particularly logical features: lens axis positioned and aimed the same when switched between portrait / landscape (good for copy setup); and, the Arca dovetail foot thingy for the portrait position is made square, hence bidirectional - it doesn't matter in which orientation the clamp is used; sideways or fore and aft.

The Hasselblad dovetail has been mentioned a couple times, but I remember when all the guys who did tabletop photography with Nikon F bodies (600 slides of earrings for instance) used motor drives just so they could load film and not have to set everything up all over again.

Then someone started selling backs with a tripod mount bolted on the bottom and the table top people could ditch the motor drives and not have to get the holes drilled in their F bodies. Or even better you could use your own modded back to mount a rented F on a tripod! I had one of those backs for a while in my assistant bag of tricks.

I leave a universal plate in each of my quick release clamps, adapted my Manfrotto Hex clamp to use a Generic A-S clamp (hex plate with gibb screw to a generic A-S clamp which has a permanent home on my 3-way head) and am slowly transitioning all my cameras to A-S plates and L-brackets, and will eventually leave a plate or L-plate on all my cameras. The A-S system just works better. My preference is for the slower but much more secure knob-thingie clamps and not the Q-R snap clamps. I didn't trust the Manfrotto ones and sure as heck don't trust the A-S stlye since I own a hodge-podge of clamps and plates from a plethora of makers all with their own take on the standard.

The problem with integrating a plate into the bottom of a camera is that it changes the "feel" of the bottom of the camera. A lot of people don't like the edge of the Arca plate pushing into their skin.

Still, the camera makers are still sticking with a very old standard (1/4" 20tpi socket), one which most of us don't actually use anymore (except to screw or plate in ;~).

As I've written before, I think many of the camera designers/engineers in Japan would be surprised and appalled at how cameras are ACTUALLY used. Within Japan, I've noticed that the way cameras are used and treated is quite different than here in the Western world.

For all those who use a Manfrotto head and are dissatisfied with their proprietary QR system: I was able to "convert" my Manfrotto 3-way head to the Arca system by mounting a Feisol quick-release clamp (QRC-50) piggy-back onto the Manfrotto camera plate matching the head. This can be done using an 1/4'' to 3/8'' adapter screw (also obtained from Feisol). The Manfrotto camera plate now stays clamped to the head, and Arca QR clamp is used to mount the camera.

A built in quick release plate is great for tripods, but not so good for anything else that you may like to attach to the bottom of a camera.

For example, the bracket of a hammerhead style flashgun, where a screw in knob can be positioned anywhere in a long slot, to suit almost any camera. Making that QR, and to suit every camera too, would be awkward and expensive. There would also need to be a built in QR plate underneath.

Having said that, a QR system shines where you have to quickly go from hand held to tripod mounted and back again, which is what I shall be doing on Sunday.

One great advantage of a built in QR plate is that you can't leave it at home when you are out with the tripod. I usually leave the mount on the camera, but if I've used the tripod socket for something else and not replaced the plate, I'm out of luck.

I've been buying Arca Swiss style plates for my cameras for years but lately I've wondered, just like you did, why manufacturers don't just make the bottom of the camera body to fit the clamp.

At the same time I've also been wondering if it is really that much harder to use the standard tripod screw than the clamp. The fact that the clamp screw is horizontal is more convenient but a hundred+ more convenient? I suppose I could buy the lever style but that is even more expensive.

On a related issue (related by "why don't manufacturers...? Not photography related). The government provides a time and weather radio signal that you can get devices to pick up. Those devices check the signal every 15 minutes and display the latest info. I've wondered for years why car manufacturers don't install car clocks that set themselves automatically from that signal. Then you wouldn't have to reset your car clock twice a year for daylight/standard time. Things that make you go hmmm?

No-one has mentioned the magnetic attachment system manufactured by Trek-Pod in Oregon. It works!

The quick release is great but I like it more for the L Plate on the camera. The L plate allows for instant switching from horizontal to vertical and keeps all the camera weight centered over the tripod. for those of us that also drag the camera along on hikes and motorcycle trips, it is a bit of extra protection, don;t leave home without it.

Building in a release plate can cause some issues with maintaining camera body dimensions to micron level tolerances when the body is clamped directly. This can affect sensor to flange distance, the "film" plane etc.

That may be the main reason,aside from additional manufacturing cost and complexity, why it has not been tried very much.

But I dislike plates as they are. They scratch any surface you put the camera down on...

A built-in plate ought to resonate with compact system camera manufacturers. Unlike an inset tripod socket, a protruding built-in plate can be centered along the lens-sensor axis without interfering with the camera's delicate electronics innards. This will also leave the battery door and articulating LCD screens unobstructed.

Right-sized quick-release plate for compact cameras are hard to find. Most Arca-type and proprietary plates were designed for the DSLR form factor, the smallest of which is at least 1.5" (40 mm) long on its short side. This (1.5") is still not small enough to fit unobtrusively over the tripod socket of a compact mirrorless body. It will either protrude over one or both sides of the camera base and block the battery/card door.

Third-party brands that make plates designed for compact mirrorless bodies are mostly North American, namely: Kirk, Jobu Design (Canada), and ProMediaGear. All three make 1" plates. (The long side cannot be shorter than 1.5" to remain compatible with Arca-type clamps.) The smallest plate, which is only 0.75" wide, is made by Jobu Design (see below).

Kirk PZ-130, 1" with flange

ProMediaGear PX1R, 1" with flange

Jobu Design SF-BP-XS100, 1"

Jobu Design SF-BP-XS750, 0.75"

The problem with small plates is that their tiny surface area do not provide enough friction to prevent camera twisting. Only QR plates with a lip or flange can keep a nose-heavy camera-lens combo plumb in portrait mode. The DIY remedy for non-lipped plates is to stick a rubberized non-slip tape (3M) to its camera-side surface with a cutout for the tripod screw. However. this works only with small lenses. A built-in plate solves this problem (twisting).

I'm still waiting for the revival of tripod collars or even just a tripod hole built-in to heavy telephoto, macro, or fast primes for mirrorless cameras. Either ought to be a standard feature for fixed-lens compact zooms.

I'm surprised that no one mentioned QR plates for video. Video cameras incorporate a small shallow hole near the tripod socket for an anti-rotation pin. It seems to be a standard. Why is this feature not included on still cameras? It sure would simplify the whole anti-rotation issue. I have a Mamiya M645 with a feature like this as well but it is not the video standard. I love my Arca style plates and make custom aluminum ones for myself all the time.

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