Really Right Stuff L-Plate for Canon EOS R5 and R6 (Podcast 728)

Really Right Stuff L-Plate for Canon EOS R5 and R6 (Podcast 728)


Visit Library for MBP Pro eBooks
Canon EOS R5 with Strap Attached by Really Right Stuff L-Plate and Quick Detatch Loop
Canon EOS R5 with Strap Attached by Really Right Stuff L-Plate and Quick Detatch Loop

As we say goodbye, or perhaps more aptly, good riddance to 2020, I just took delivery of the L-Plate that I’d had on order with Really Right Stuff, and I also included a few other handy accessories in my order, which I’m going to share with you today, as I build out my system for carrying my cameras as well as supporting them on a tripod. The Really Right Stuff team continues to make excellent products and they definitely aren’t simply sitting on their laurels when it comes to innovation, as you’ll see.

One of the biggest innovations with their current line-up of brackets is the addition of a whole called a QD Socket that houses their Quick Detach Strap Swivel Loops, and they facilitate the quick attachment of a camera strap, which, coupled with the Peak Design straps that I use, enables me to create a sling configuration for both long and short lens scenarios. I love being able to do this so much, that we might as well start with a photo of my EOS R5 with the new L-Plate attached, and a QD Strap Swivel D Loop attached so that you can see how this positions the camera when slung over the shoulder. Having the camera slung in this position puts the camera’s grip straight into the palm of my hand when I’m ready to raise it to my eye.

Click of tap on the image to open it up in the Lightbox to view it larger, but note here that the lens is hanging down, not straight out as it does when you hang the camera around your neck supported by a strap attached to the built-in strap lugs. This is important because it not only means the camera falls more comfortably into your hand, but it also makes it less likely to bang the camera and potentially the front of the lens as you walk around.

I should mention that as I’m paranoid about things potentially going wrong, I do occasionally check to ensure that the lens is not working loose, but I’ve never noticed a lens doing that. I did have the body fall off the lens when using a Black Rapid strap attached only to the lens, a couple of times actually, but that was probably more a design flaw of the older Canon bodies rather than the strap system. Still, it wasn’t great, and that’s why I started to do things like thread a long camera strap base through the Black Rapid Straps, but now that I’m using the Peak Design Straps and their smaller loops, I’m preventing the possibility of this happening by slinging longer lenses how you can see in this next image.

Canon EOS R5 and 100-500mm Lens with Strap Attached by Really Right Stuff Quick Detatch D Loops

As you can see, I bought two QD Strap loops so that I could create this sling configuration as well, attaching one to the L-Plate, and the second to an L85 Lens Plate, which I also just bought for the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and that also has the new QD Socket both on the front and back of the plate. I could, of course, put both QD Strap loops into the plate on the lens, but that then leaves my camera free to fall to the ground if it did come loose as my old 1D4 did.

I actually think the RF Mount is probably less susceptible to that kind of rotation, and I recall hearing that Canon had made improvements in this area, but I like to cover my bases, and so I attach one loop to each piece of equipment. That also means that both are being pulled up from their bases, and that removes any force that could potentially cause the camera to rotate anyway. And again, this also puts the camera’s grip in the palm of my hand as I sling this over my body. I generally have the strap over my left shoulder with the camera hanging down on my right side, and it works really well in this configuration.

The D Loop itself is an ingenious little invention and they are incredibly strong. The RRS Website quotes both 450 lbs and 300 lbs of pull pressure for these devices, and although I imagine one number is for the D loop itself and the second for the main attachment, it doesn’t really clarify which it is, but either way, 300 lbs is the lower of the two, and that is more than enough for me to not worry about this coming loose unintentionally. Also, both to insert and release the QD Strap loops, you have to press the central column and there is no way you could do that accidentally while supporting the camera.

Really Right Stuff QD Strap Swivel - D Loop
Really Right Stuff QD Strap Swivel – D Loop

The D Loop is just $12 on B&H Photo, but I should note that if you wanted to feed a flat strap directly through the loop, as opposed to the Peak Design Loop that I’m using, there is a low profile loop also available although that’s $29, but it is more suitable if you’re using a flat strap. As we’ve come this far, we might as well take a closer look at the L85 Lens Plate before going into detail on the L-Plate, so here is a photo of the underside of the L85 Lens Plate.

Really Right Stuff L85 Plate on Canon RF 100-500mm Lens
Really Right Stuff L85 Plate on Canon RF 100-500mm Lens

Note the two little grub-screws at the front and back edge of the plate. These are to stop the plate from slipping out of the quick release clamp on the tripod should the lever come loose. They won’t, of course, prevent it from falling out if the lever is completely opened, but a loose lever is covered here. You also get a closer look at those QD Sockets that we mentioned earlier. I am actually more a fan of the complete replacement lens feet that Really Right Stuff usually make, but they don’t have anything for the Canon RF 100-500mm lens yet, and they couldn’t say if there were plans to produce one, so I went for the multi-purpose L85 for now.

And finally, before we move on, here’s a shot of the 100-500mm lens with the EOS R5 sitting proudly on top of my old and very trusted Really Right Stuff BH-55. It’s a bit beaten up, and I have to admit to cloning out a few scratches in these photos, but after more than 12 years of use I have no reason to replace this workhorse ball-head.

Really Right Stuff L85 Plate on Canon RF 100-500mm Lens
Really Right Stuff L85 Plate on Canon RF 100-500mm Lens

Canon EOS R5 & R6 L-Plate

OK, so let’s take a closer look now at the new L-Plate which is designed for use with both the Canon EOS R5 and the R6, and this again has a number of innovative improvements. The first as I’ve mentioned is the QD Socket to enable the attachment of the QD loop, and the other thing is the addition of the sliding plate that you can see in this image of the underside of the L-Plate. In the image to the right below, I aligned just this silver plate with the screw thread and registration hole in the bottom of the EOS R5, so that you can see what’s happening.

The slider is basically prevented from rotating because it’s fixed in two separate locations, so the L-Plate feels really secure when fixed to the camera, even though there is only one locking nut. There is also the inclusion of a short hex key held into place under the L-Plate with two strong magnets, so it’s always there when you need to loosen or remove the Plate. I actually have a hex key on my keyring which is always in my pocket, but this is a nice addition. In fact, I may even now remove the one from my keyring.

As you can see in the next image, the slider mechanism enables us to loosen the L-Plate and slide it out to the left of the camera, allowing for easier access to the cable ports, which is especially useful if you shoot tethered video or stills, and need to put the cable holders into position. You can access the cable ports without doing this, but these larger attachments take a little more room, so it’s nice to have this option.

Really Right Stuff L-Plate Making Room for Cables
Really Right Stuff L-Plate Making Room for Cables

There is also a gap in the vertical plate for the L-Plate which enables us to rotate the articulated LCD for up to 35 degrees when extended out to the side. You cannot simply rotate it freely though, so I’ve decided to stick with a regular base plate for my second camera, although I do like having an L-Plate of my camera as it also protects it from getting knocked around, especially when shooting on a rocking boat, for example. My L-Plates usually end up with white paint on them from the sides of boats, and I’m always grateful that it’s the plate and not my camera that is taking the knocks.

Canon EOS R5 with Really Right Stuff L-Plate Landscape Orientation
Canon EOS R5 with Really Right Stuff L-Plate Landscape Orientation

Of course, the major benefit to using an L-Plate is because it provides the ability to flip the camera up into portrait orientation on the tripod and keep the center of gravity in the center of the system, unlike when you flop the camera over on its side in the ball-head, which I really dislike having to do. With the L-Plate you hardly lose any height of the viewfinder and it is simply so much better balanced in portrait orientation.

Canon EOS R5 with Really Right Stuff L-Plate Portrait Orientation
Canon EOS R5 with Really Right Stuff L-Plate Portrait Orientation

This is only an issue, of course, when using shorter lenses. With longer lenses like the 100-500mm, I simply loosen the tripod ring locking screw and rotate the camera and lens into portrait orientation, because the camera is mounted with the lenses plate not the L-Plate.

OK, so a relatively short episode to end the year with, but I hope you found that useful. As usual, if you did find this useful and would like to help keep a roof over my head, please by with the B&H Affiliate Links in this post and below. The price is unchanged to you, but it does help to keep the lights on, so using these links is very much appreciated. And to end, I’d like to wish you a safe and peaceful 2021.


Show Notes

Really Right Stuff L-Plate Set for Canon EOS R5 & R6: https://mbp.ac/rrsr56lp

Really Right Stuff QD Strap Swivel – D Loop: https://mbp.ac/rrsqdloop

Really Right Stuff QD Strap Swivel (Low Profile): https://mbp.ac/rrsqdlp

Really Right Stuff L85 Multi-use Fore-Aft Plate L85 Plate: https://mbp.ac/rrsl85

Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball-Head: https://mbp.ac/bh55

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

Subscribe in iTunes to get Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast as an MP3 with Chapters.

Visit this page for help on how to view the images in MP3 files.


Really Right Stuff Camera Supports Review (Podcast 350)

Really Right Stuff Camera Supports Review (Podcast 350)

Today we’re going to have a bit of a Really Right Stuff love-fest, as we look at the new camera L-Plates for the 5D Mark III and the completely re-designed L-Plate for the Canon EOS 1D X, as well as the TVC-34L Tripod with Leveling Base that I recently bought, and we can’t do an RRS love-fest without giving their flagship ball-head, the BH-55 a mention.

In fact, I might as well start with the BH-55, as this has been my best friend for almost five years now. I’d used a number of ball-heads over the years, and as camera resolution increased, the flaws in my older ball-heads became apparent, and I’d look for something else.

I recall my friend Graham Morgan showing me his BH-55 on our first Hokkaido Workshop, and I also recall thinking just how beautiful a work of engineering art it was. He said it was the most solid ball-head he’d ever used, and of course, he was right. The BH-55 is rock solid. I bought mine within weeks of returning home from Hokkaido that year and haven’t regretted it once.

The image below shows the BH-55 on top of my new Really Right Stuff TVC-34L Tripod with optional TA-3-LB Leveling Base, both of which we’ll look at shortly. Really Right Stuff gear really are works of art, so I couldn’t help sharing this first image from a series of black background shots that I made of this stuff. I shared the series of black background images on Google+ if you are interested, but for the rest of today’s images, we’ll use white background shots, to make it easier to see the gear.

Really Right Stuff TVC-34L Tripod with Leveling Base and BH-55 B

Really Right Stuff TVC-34L Tripod with Leveling Base and BH-55

(Click on the image to view larger and navigate back and forth with your mouse or keyboard arrow keys.)

The BH-55 has three knurled knobs, starting with the largest one, which is to lock the ball in place, and believe me, when you tighten this up, that ball and camera are going nowhere!

BH-55 Ball-Head Showing All Knobs

BH-55 Ball-Head Showing All Knobs

Of the two smaller knobs, the one at the bottom is to lock the horizontal movement, stopping the entire head from rotating. You use this to recompose when you need to move the camera horizontally across your scene.

If you have the tripod level, you can turn the camera on it’s horizontal axis like this to take panorama photos. It’s not going to be quite as accurate as setting it all up to rotate the camera around the No Parallax Point but today’s stitching software is so advanced that I personally don’t worry too much about that.

The top of the two small knobs is to control the drag or tension of the ball in its socket. This may not be an obvious benefit until you actually use it, but when I have this too slack, and undo the large locking knob, the camera flops around all over the place, making it hard to control. Adding just the right amount of tension to push back as I move the camera around makes fine turning so much easier.

You can tilt the ball-head and camera over and down into one of the two circular cut-outs on the head, which allows you to point the camera down further than the other positions, but you can also tilt the camera over on it’s side using these openings, but that moves the center of gravity of the set up over to one side, and although it’s still very stable, for best results, and for a number of other reasons, I chose to use L-Plates on my cameras, which enable me to unclamp the body, and switch orientation without tilting the camera on it’s side.

Here (below) we see the new B1DX-L Plate for the Canon EOS 1D X that has been totally redesigned over the 1Ds Mark III L-Plate.

1D X with B1DX-L Plate Fitted

1D X with B1DX-L Plate Fitted

The major innovation here is that this plate is now modular, so you can remove the side L Component and just use it as a simple base-plate. I probably will rarely do that, but it’s nice to have the option. More importantly though, as you can see (above) on the bottom of the plate, there is an extra bevelled hole which is used to screw the L-Component down in an extended position, giving you additional clearance for cables, especially when shooting with USB or Ethernet cable connected for tethered shooting.

1D X L-Plate with L Component Extended & Cables Attached

1D X L-Plate with L Component Extended & Cables Attached

It’s most useful in the portrait orientation of course, and not really necessary if you don’t intend to mount the camera to a tripod in this position, as all cables can be inserted with the L-Component flush to the camera, but it does making plugging them in a little easier too, so is still useful even in landscape orientation.

Of course, if you are only plugging in a cable release, all Really Right Stuff L-Plates have clearance for that, so you can use a cable release in portrait orientation without extending the L-Component and still be able to mount the camera on a tripod.

1D X with L-Plate in Portrait Orientation

1D X with L-Plate in Portrait Orientation with Cable Release Attached

Another nice new feature, especially important now that we might be unscrewing and adjusting the L-Component in the field, is a hole in the base plate to stow the hex-key (below). I have it resting in the hole in this photo so that you can see it, but you just slide the key right in there, and it’s held in place with a small magnet.

1D X L-Plate and Hex Key

1D X L-Plate and Hex Key

And before we move on, here’s a bottom view (below) with Hex-Key stowed and the L-Component of the plate extended, so that you can see exactly how this works.

1D X L-Plate with L Component Extended

1D X L-Plate with L Component Extended

The 5D Mark III’s L-Plate, the BGE11-L is made specifically for the 5D Mark III with the battery grip fitted. Really Right Stuff also do a plate for just the 5D, without the Battery Grip, but I like the larger form factor of the grip, and so this is always my choice.

5D Mark III with BGE11-L Plate Fitted

5D Mark III with BGE11-L Plate Fitted

The 5D Mark III L-Plate is not modular, like the 1D X plate, but it’s been redesigned to allow you to remove the battery pack, as this is now accessed from the side of the battery grip, not the back as with the 5D or 5D Mark II. And, of course, you can plug in your cable release (below) without hinderance and mount the camera in portrait orientation with the cable release plugged in as necessary.

5D Mark III with L-Plate & Cable Release Fitted

5D Mark III with L-Plate & Cable Release Fitted

I buy lens plates for the tripod shoe (below) on all of my longer lenses, or even my macro lens that has a collar and tripod mount, and this allows me to mount the camera to the tripod via the lens, rather than the camera. This is especially important with long lenses, that tend to come with the tripod collar and shoe, because if you mount this long a lens to the camera while the camera is attached to the tripod it would put a huge amount of stress on the camera mount, and for super telephoto lenses, you may well even rip the mount out of the camera. It would of course also make your system less stable, and give rise to camera shake as well.

70-200mm Lens Mounted with Tripod Shoe

70-200mm Lens Mounted with Tripod Shoe

Of course, with the lens mounted, to go to portrait orientation, you just loosen the screw on the lens collar, and rotate the camera and lens, once again, keeping the center of gravity all down the center of the tripod, for maximum stability.

Because all of my cameras and long lenses are fitted with plates, it means that everything is interchangeable. You might remember that back in Episode 288 I showed you how I fitted my Black Rapid Double Strap with Really Right Stuff Quick Release Clamps, so that I could quickly switch from tripod mounting to my straps.

Really Right Stuff Quick Release Clamp

Really Right Stuff Quick Release Clamp

I also now use the Optech/USA straps so that I can remove the strap and pass the shorter remaining strap through the Black Rapid strap, to stop the camera falling to the ground, as it’s done a few times while walking around or sitting in Zodiacs with the strap attached to the lens. Take a look at Episode 288 if you want more information on this.

I also use a Wimberley Gimbal Head with my 600mm f/4 lens, and that works fine with the Really Right Stuff dovetail plates. And, although it broke and I never replaced it, I used to have a monopod with a Quick Release clamp fitted, and that was nice too, to be able to just switch between all of my support or carrying devices without having to unscrew and switch out the plates on anything.

TVC-34L Tripod with Leveling Base Correcting Unlevel Tripod

TVC-34L Tripod with Leveling Base Correcting Unlevel Tripod

So, last but not least, let’s take a look at the Versa TVC-34L Tripod with the Optional TA-3-LB Leveling Base (right). Really Right Stuff make Series 1, 2 and 3 tripods in the Versa range, with 1 being the lightest, 2 being more sturdy, and Series 3 being the most robust. They are of course all engineered to the same high standards, but tripods are always a trade-off between size and weight, and their stability. If you only intend to use your tripod with a mirrorless micro four-thirds camera for example, there isn’t much point in going for Series 2 or 3, but if like me, you use large heavy lenses and heavy  professional bodies, you might want to consider a Series 3 Versa Tripod.

Selecting a Tripod

Long time listeners will probably recall me talking about things to bear in mind when selecting a tripod, and I of course bore these things in mind when I ordered my 34L too. Firstly, you want the tripod to get your camera’s viewfinder to eye-level, without having to use a center column. Raising the center column makes the tripod less stable.

If you think you’re going to want to set the camera higher than eye level, consider doing what I did, and buy a tripod even taller than yourself. I’m 5’10” (178cm) and this tripod gets my cameras’ viewfinder to eye-level without extending the bottom leg section. Having that extra height though, will allow me to extend the tripod further, if for example, I want to shoot something overhead, looking up into the viewfinder, or using LiveView.

It also enables me to extend one or two legs further when shooting on a steep slope, or with a leg in a river etc. The other things I’ve mentioned in the past is that in deed snow, the legs can sink, and it’s nice to be able to compensate for that. At events, if you take some step ladders, you can fully extend the tripod and stand on the steps, shooting over peoples’ heads. As you can see, there are a number of reasons why getting a larger tripod can help your photography. It is of course, a trade off on weight too though. Take a look at the extended height of the tripods, and bear in mind that you will add the height of the ball-head, and your camera, to the viewfinder, to get something that you don’t have to bend over to look into.

Leveling Base

I selected the 34L tripod without a center pole, and instead added the optional TA-3-LB Leveling Base (bel0w). As you can see in the last photo (above), it allows you to level the tripod head, even if the legs are on uneven ground. Of course, in this photo I simulated this by extending one leg further than the others, but you can also see how I was able to correct this. You turn the short pole extending out of the bottom of the leveling base to loosen it, straighten it according to the built-in spirit level, then turn the pole back to tighten it and lock the base in position. It will apparently adjust for up to 15° of tilt, which you can see from these photos is quite significant.

Leveling Head Tilted Over

Leveling Head Tilted Over

You might be wondering why I wouldn’t just allow the ball-head to be at an angle, and correct the camera with the ball-head itself, but this goes back to what we mentioned earlier, about panorama photos. With the base level, you can unscrew the horizontal movement screw on the BH-55 and just turn the camera on the base, and keep your horizon straight as you shoot your series of panorama shots. To do this without the leveling base, your only other option is to adjust each leg until you get the tripod straight, but that takes a lot more time.

We can also see in this next photo, that the pole extending out of the bottom of the leveling base does not touch the floor when you have the tripod set to it’s lowest level, by splaying the legs out to their full extent.

TVC-34L Tripod with Leveling Base at Ground Level

TVC-34L Tripod with Leveling Base at Ground Level

Why Do I Need a Sturdy Tripod?

Of course, the reason you’ll want a big sturdy tripod is to keep your gear rock solid during your exposure. I do a lot of long exposures, and you really need a solid tripod to avoid camera shake once you slow your shutter speed down. Even for normal speed exposures, if your ball-head and tripod shudder as your shutter unit moves, you’re going to end up with blurred images.

Longer lenses are heavier and therefore obviously need a more sturdy tripod. The 34L will support up to 50lb / 23kg in weight, which is enough for even the biggest lenses, but long lenses can shudder during exposure, so I also use a Really Right Stuff Lens Support Package, to support the front of the lens as I shoot, which reduces that shudder a lot. Here’s a photo from Episode 198 in which I talked about this lens support system.

600mm F4 with Long Lens Support CP-YS-QR-Pkg

600mm F4 with Long Lens Support CP-YS-QR-Pkg

You can see I also use the Really Right Stuff Replacement Foot! This really is a Really Right Stuff love-fest!

What Was Wrong With My Gitzo?

I was asked what was wrong with my trusty Gitzo 3 Series Tripod, and why I replaced it, so I should say for the record that I still believe that Gitzo make incredibly good tripods. I was always happy with the sturdiness of my Gitzo coupled with the BH-55 ball-head. The problem was that a few months ago, one of the legs started to rotate at the top of the first section, making it difficult to loosen and tighten the legs to extend or retract them. I’ll be keeping the Gitzo too. I just had to sent it in for repairs, and didn’t expect it to be returned before I leave for the US to continue my Pixels 2 Pigment workshops.

Having said that, now that I own a Really Right Stuff tripod, I can’t see me going back. In true RRS style, the TVC-34L Tripod is an engineering work of art. Even down to how the latches ratchet back out as you bend the legs back in out of the low angle mode, is magical. They’ve thought of everything, and I’m very pleased that I took the plunge. The only thing that I will have to work around is that without the center pole, I am not able to flip the pole around and hang the camera below the tripod for super low angles and macro work. I guess when I leave the house to do that kind of photography from now on, I’ll continue to reach for my old trusty Gitzo.

The Trade Off – Your Choice

Just to recap, larger, sturdier tripods are always a trade-off with regards to size and weight. If you are going to be traveling or even trekking of course, you might decide to go for a lighter, smaller tripod, and live with the lack of ultimate sturdiness, and even having to bend down to look through the view finder. It’s totally up to you. My main advice here though, is weight up the advantages and disadvantages, and make your decision based on what you are able to carry. If you can carry, and have the budget for the larger more sturdy tripod, and don’t have another reason to make that trade-off, then go the larger one. It will serve you well, I assure you.

Oh, and the same goes for the ball-heads. The BH-55 is Really Right Stuff’s flagship model, but they do a series of smaller heads that are from what I can see also incredibly well made, so if you go for a smaller tripod, consider a smaller head too. There wouldn’t really be much point in having a big fat BH-55 on top of their smallest tripod.

Quick Release Levers

One word before we finish, about the Quick Release clamps as opposed to the knurled knob clamps that Really Right Stuff also make. I’m asked regularly if I trust the quick release clamp, and if I think the knob might be better, or safer.

Really Right Stuff TVC-34L Tripod with Leveling Base and BH-55

Really Right Stuff TVC-34L Tripod with Leveling Base and BH-55

My reply is usually that I tried the knob release in the past, and didn’t like it. It takes too long to switch out a camera or lens when you have to turn the knob, plus, in cold conditions it can be a pain, literally. I personally prefer the quick release aspect, and I have never once had one of these come loose, so yes, I trust them totally, even when dangling my gear from the Black Rapid Double Strap using the quick release clamps.

Simply the Best!

Really Right Stuff isn’t the cheapest camera support system on the planet, by a long shot, but this is one of those occasions like many, when you really do get what you pay for. If you can make do with cheaper, that’s great! But most people I know end up spending more money on camera supports than is really necessary because they start off cheap, and gradually replace their tripods and heads as they grow as photographers, and find inadequacies in their gear. I’ve done this myself, going through a number of tripods and ball heads over the years. If you read this early enough in your photographic life, you may even be able to save yourself a little money by just going for the best now, because that’s what Really Right Stuff gear is, the best.

End Notes

Note that over the next month or so the Podcast release schedule is going to be all over the place, as I travel to the US, Canada and the UK for my Pixels 2 Pigment workshops. We still have spaces, so if you’d like to join us, please check out the www.pixels2pigment.com Web site and see what that’s all about.

Also, I’m taking the opportunity of being in the US at this time to attend Photoshelter’s Luminance 2012 Workshops and series of TED style talks from Sept 11-13. I’ll be learning stuff from greats like Joe McNally and Zack Arias, which is going to be amazing! If you are also planning to go, do let me know, or search me out while you are there, so that we can meet face to face and shake hands.


Show Notes

Links to most gear is in-line above.

Music from Music Alley: http://www.musicalley.com/


Audio

Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.


Podcast 239 : Manfrotto Video Fluid Heads with Really Right Stuff Plates

Podcast 239 : Manfrotto Video Fluid Heads with Really Right Stuff Plates

I recently figured out how to mount my cameras and lenses fitted with Really Right Stuff plates, to my Manfrotto 519 Pro Video Fluid Head, and today share my secrets with you. The video below is really all you need to watch, but I also recorded an audio section for those that cannot get to the blog to watch the video.

I’d been waiting for a company to come out with a fluid head that uses a standard Arca-Swiss dovetail plate, like the ones Really Right Stuff make, so that we can just drop our DSLRs straight onto the fluid head. As of April 2010 though, I’m not aware of any companies that make these. There’s also the problem that most video fluid heads have no way to mount with the mounting plate sideways, the orientation of the plate when fitted to the camera body, as opposed to a lens tripod ring, and video heads also don’t usually have a way to flip the camera on its side, for portrait mode either.

Anyway, I gave it some thought, and bought an extra quick release clamp for the Manfrotto head, and with a couple of orders for some new brackets etc. from Really Right Stuff, I’m now pretty happy with how my lenses and cameras can be fitted to my new Manfrotto 519 Pro Video Fluid Head. If you have been trying to do this yourself, do watch the video.

To begin with, video heads have a quick release plate that is made to mount length-ways, along the bottom of the video camera. This means that the orientation is the same as that of lens plates when fitted to the bottom of a tripod ring, such as those that you see on the 70-200mm and longer lenses. This means that the only thing you have to overcome is the difference in format between the Arca-Swiss style plates, and the manufacturer’s plate on the video head.

When you use shorter lenses though, that don’t have the tripod rings, you will need to mount the camera directly to the tripod, with a plate fitted to the bottom of the camera. Because these run sideways across the width of the camera though, the camera would be facing sideways on the video head, unless you introduce something to rotate the camera 90 degrees, to make it face the front again.

This is where the 80mm LR clamp from Really Right Stuff comes in. The quick release plate on Manfrotto 519 fluid head comes with both a 1/4″ and a 3/8″ screw, and it just so happens that the B2 LLR II, or 80mm quick release clamp from Really Right Stuff also comes with a 1/4″ and a 3/8″ screw thread. So you simply screw both of the screws into the base of the 80mm clamp, and you have a new quick release clamp that slides into the top of the Manfrotto fluid head, and you can mount all of your lens plates from RRS directly into that. Brilliant!

But what about the body plates, when you aren’t using lenses with tripod rings? In preparation for this, when I bought my fluid head, I ordered an extra Manfrotto 501PL Sliding Quick Release Plate, and a second 80mm quick release clamp from Really Right Stuff. This time, I just used the 3/8″ screw, and screwed that tightly into the center screw thread on the RRS 80mm clamp. There is probably a little more chance of the plate turning than when using two screws, but the screws have a groove for a coin, and could be easily retightened in the field, unless you were out and about with any money at all that is. The top of the Manfrotto quick release plate is rubberized too, so I doubt that it will turn easily if you tighten it up enough to begin with.

Now what you have is a second plate that you can use to mount your camera body plates directly too, and the camera will face forwards. How do you flip the camera sideways though, to go to portrait mode? This is where another ingenious invention from Really Right Stuff comes in. The L-Bracket. These are metal L shaped brackets, as you might imagine, and they fit to the bottom of your camera body, screwing into the tripod screw thread, and they extend along the base of the camera, and up the left side, and they have an Arca-Swiss standard plate on the bottom and the side. This means you can just release the quick release clamp with the lever, flip the camera itself up on its side, and you are now in portrait mode.

This means that I can now take out just my video tripod, and I don’t have to take a second tripod with a ball-head, or just the ball head and change the tripod head out in the field. Don’t get me wrong, for still, my Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball-head is still my favourite. This is an engineering work of art, and I have never used a ball-head that locks my camera into place as firmly as the BH-55. But, if I’m going to be walking far from the car, and there’s a chance that I’ll be shooting video, I’ll probably opt for the video tripod, which is a new 5 series Gitzo, and the Manfrotto 519 fluid head, and I’ll still now be able to mount my cameras and lenses directly to the 519 head, without taking my plates off, and mounting the Manfrotto quick release plates, and I can quickly go sideways, or vertical into portrait mode, and shoot my still as well.

In fact, there’s probably even a place for vertical video, as I hear that’s becoming more popular now for use in TV billboards, and the Really Right Stuff L-Brackets will make it very easy to do this too.

In case you missed it, I released my first short movie last week, shot with this new rig, and that was available on my blog and on Vimeo, and I’ll put links to those in the show notes for you to check out. It was really just a practice session, as I tried to get used to panning around with the new 519 head, but I quite liked the results, so have been proud to share that with folks over the last week.

I’ll also put links to some of the key pieces of gear into the show-notes too, but the Really Right Stuff L-Brackets and lens plates are specific to your camera or lenses, so you’ll need to search for the right one in their store at reallyrightstuff.com. If you already use RRS plates like I did, then hopefully this will be a relatively inexpensive way to get the best of both the video and still photography worlds.

UPDATE 2010/06/19:

Today I received notice from listener Wayne Smith, from Manitoba, Canada, letting me know that Kirk have released a clamp with a turning head that does exactly what I am doing with the Really Right Stuff quick release clamp and Manfrotto plate. This is great news, although I wish there was a quick release lever version.I’ll probably wait for that now that I’m set with my current gear, but this certainly is a better option.

Anyway, here’s a link, courtesy of Wayne, so take a look if you are interested.

http://www.kirkphoto.com/SQRC-501PL_Manfrotto_Quick_Release_Clamp.html

Thanks for letting us know about this Wayne!


Podcast show-notes:

See the full sized video on Vimeo here: http://vimeo.com/11002725

Manfrotto 519 Pro Video Fluid Head: http://bit.ly/mbp519fh

Manfrotto 501PL Sliding Quick Release Plate: http://bit.ly/m501pl

Gitzo GT5541LS Systematic 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs: http://bit.ly/bOvmcB

Mounting the 519 head on Gitzo legs requires a Gitzo GS5320V75 75mm Bowl Adapter: http://bit.ly/cVm2UO

Really Right Stuff 80mm Quick Release Clamp. Search for “B2 LLR II” at: http://www.reallyrightstuff.com/

Music: Studies In Ether, by Andrew Aversa – Recording Licensed from the UniqueTracks Production Music Library Inc.


Audio

Download the Enhanced Podcast M4A files directly.