Cameras have all the fun. Lenses don’t do too badly either. Both are the prime subjects of photographer’s equipment lust. Sure, flash units and tripods get some attention, and even filters have their day, but mounting plates?! We’ll, no one thinks much about mounting plates, now do they?

But we should, because as with most things in lifethe devil is in the details, and it’s the details that can sometimes make the biggest difference.

Most outdoor photographers know that a ballhead with quick release plates is the fastest and most efficient means of working on a tripod. Who wants to mess with screwing and unscrewing cameras and lenses from tripods? There is also pretty common agreement that the best mounting plate type is that originated byArca Swiss.

Note though that I said "originated", because while theirB1ball head is the class of the industry their mounting plates are dreadful. A small industry has therefore grown up over the past several years in producingArcacompatible plates. Three of the companies that do this areWimberly,KirkandReally Right Stuff.

Strutting — Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. April, 2003

Canon 10D with 400mm f/5.6L at ISO 400


Now It’s Really Right

Without debating the relative merits of the products from these three companies, the ones that I have always purchased and used have been those fromReally Right Stuff(RRS). Between my various cameras and long lenses I probably have a dozen plates from this company. They are beautifully finished and custom designed to fit each individual camera body and long lens. They feature anti-twist construction and anti-drop screws. They are black anodized art, along with excellent functionality.

But, until the past 6 months dealing with this company was hugely frustrating. The founder and owner was a curmudgeon. He wouldn’t take credit cards. He wouldn’t take telephone orders, and he didn’t have an online catalog, let alone online ordering capability. Purchasing from him was a total pain. But, he designed and made a superb product.

That was then and this is now. RRS now has a new owner,Joe Johnson. Joe now has a well designedweb sitewith online ordering coming soon, and of course he takes credit cards. He also publishes a glossy and informative print catalog. He is a real gentleman to deal with, and RRS continues to innovate and bring out new products.

The one I’ll be looking at here is the newL bracket. Specially design models exist for the Nikon D100, F5, D1, D1x, D1h, F100, Hasselblad XPan and Canon 1D and 1Ds, D30/60/10D and a whole lot more.


What an L Bracket Does

The one that I have is for the Canon 1Ds. Simply put, what an L bracket is — is an Arca style mounting plate on the bottom of the camera (as usual) but also with an extension arm that provides another one for mounting the camera in a vertical position. Now, if you have a long lens with a rotating collar you know how convenient it is to be able to switch from horizontal to vertical. The image remains centered and the balance is unchanged.

But, this is not the case when a camera is mounted directly on a tripod and one wishes to switch from horizontal to vertical framing. Particularly with a high mass camera like a Nikon F5 / D1x or Canon 1D / 1Ds, flipping a ballhead over on its side swings the center of mass away from its preferred point over the center of the tripod. Also, the framing is significantly shifted and the shot will need to be recomposed.

With an L bracket all one does is release the camera, flip it on its side and remount it. The mass remains centered over the tripod and the center of framing is unchanged. To some this may not sound like a big deal, but it is. These L brackets range in price from from $140 to $183. They are designed so that all camera functions are unencumbered, including changing batteries and memory cards.


That’s it. A simple product, beautifully design and manufactured, and sold at a reasonable price by a great company. What more could one want?

Really Right Stuff