I wanted to take a quick post and describe a piece of camera support gear worth it’s weight in gold but often overlooked by most photographers. Regardless of subject, a stable shooting platform will give you the ultimate in sharpness as well as other tremendous benefits. Most discussions center around the need for a stable tripod and solid, efficient ballhead to connect the tripod with the camera. I will leave those two pieces for another post though.
Today, the star of the show is the mounting plate (specifically, the L-plate.) A mounting plate attaches to your camera body, collared lens, or extra battery grip and fits into your ballhead’s quick release or screw clamp. The plate is an integral part of your stability system and is often the weakest link in the chain.
In my simple ex-fighter pilot’s opinion, there are no better mounting plates than those made by Really Right Stuff. The integrity of construction and unrivaled direct contact with the camera body give the photographer the highest quality and stability when mating camera with ballhead.
Most mounting plates attach to the bottom of the camera and are perfect for shooting landscape orientation. When shooting portrait though, the simple mounting plate must be maneuvered into the ballhead’s drop notch to provide vertical orientation. When in this configuration, the load (camera/lens) is not centered on the tripod reducing our overall stability and performance (worst case, the off center load can cause a tripod to tip!)
The solution is the L-plate. The L-plate partially wraps around the camera and has two mounts, one for horizontal and one for vertical. In either orientation, the load is centered and stability is at it’s highest. The L-plate gives you increased flexibility in the field since you are completely free to rapidly switch from landscape to portrait and still have the true benefits of your tripod. (Fig 2 and Fig 3)
I cannot overstate the benefit of the L-plate. Once you use this plate, you will be hooked and your camera will feel naked without it. If you want to give one of them a try, head to Really Right Stuff’s website (www.ReallyRightStuff.com) and find the plate for your specific camera.
Regarding gear, I always give full disclosure. I am not endorsed nor paid by Really Right Stuff but I do believe their gear from tripod, to ballhead, to mounting plates, to pano kits, etc. is the best on the planet.
P.S. In some of the photos the tripod does not appear to be level. Interestingly it is not. I use a piece of gear from Really Right Stuff called a PCL-1 to eliminate the tripod leveling requirement. For ideal stability, level both tripod and camera but in many situations it is not needed. More on this later.