Kind of funny - in all this recent fascination about doing Macro - I also "switched" tripod plate standards. Or better said - i should say, complemented it. I use the Manfrotto 577 plate standard, which is a safest of the ones Manfrotto offers - extremely solid and sturdy

This had mainly to do with that when I a long time ago, around 2008 I invested, into a serious ball head from Manfrotto - to finally have a really good one in my photography. It's a pneumatic one, especially for the heavy stuff - and I have never regretted it. It was worked every single time. So, of course I wasn't really interested into switching that standard after so many years of use.

However, the Arca Swiss standard has become the photography world standard, it seems. And most of those so called L-grips or brackets, are based on Arca-Swiss.


The first version of the Arca Swiss B1 ball head with clamp + the corresponding plate


Arca Swiss back in the 80s

I rejected that standard in the 80s, because it was so forbidden expensive back then, and with no real competition. While I did buy an insane expensive B1 Arca Swiss Ball head - i think it cost in 1989 a whopping 5500 SEK, which would be like paying 2000 € today...

This Arca Swiss B1 ballhead became the standard to which all later ball heads had to measure up to. I chose that ballhead with a normal 1/4" screw, instead of an Arca Swiss quick release plate - simply because every plate in the 80s, cost a little fortune.

Today, you can get very well made, China made, Arca Swiss quick release plates for 15-20 € or a bit higher for the even better ones (you have to investigate them). Therefore, the overall market has changed, its quality often gotten better now, and plates have become highly affordable. Therefore, I chose to add a semi-professional ballhead with Arca Swiss mount, together with numerous L-Plates for my cameras. See the image below.

The Innorel N52 tripod ballhead is very smooth, sturdy and lovely. This is only a first impression, because as of now, I have not used it outdoors, nor in cold weather yet.

The jury is still out there regarding how it works, and how long it lasts. I do not intend to use it for very heavy work, though - even if they advertise the ball head being able to carry 30 kg.


Innorel N52 Tripod head (Arca Swiss), weight for up to 30 kg.
Price: 90 €


Leofoto Ranger LS223C (10 layer Carbon) Mini-Tripod
Price: 130 €


Manfrotto 577 plate system

I believe the Manfrotto is extremely reliable and stable and i believe also offers the widest plates - so it will still be used for my really heavy and large cameras like the giant Mamiya RZ67 and Pentax 67.

While the lighter, smaller cameras, can gain the benefit from Arca Swiss based L-plates without much bulk.


What are those L quick release brackets ?

They are plates which have two plates, one horizontal, one 90° vertical. This way, you never have to tilt the ball head. Instead you take off the camera and mount it in vertical position instead. No shifting to the side with all the bulk. Which is wonderful, because when you tilt a ballhead to the side, the entire weight is sort of sliding there. And sometimes the legs are in the way, too.

The heaver the camera + lens, the heavier is the bulk that is tilting to the side by 90° in order to make a vertical image. Now, I just dismount the horizontally mounted camera, and mount it again in an 90° vertical angle - without the ball head is tilted. This way, the entire weight remains centered on the tripod.


Example of an Arca-Swiss based L-grip

Workaround with/to Manfrotto 577 plate system

I find that of course very nifty - but there was no solution for such an L-grip for my Manfrotto 577 plate quick release & plate system. Albeit i already found a way around this, and can also use the Manfrotto standard (but the L-grip becomes a bit more bulky, see two last photos).

In essence, the Canon EOS R6 has a Arca Swiss L-plate attached, and then due to that it has screw holes at the right places, i was able to adapt Manfrotto 577 plates on each side - and with that - being able to mount it onto the Manfrotto ball head.

So, I can choose if I want to use my old, trusty and very solid Manfrotto ballhead / plate system, or the Arca Swiss ball head, which I bought the other day (see last photo)





Plenty of L-brackets

I have now a whole bunch of slightly different L-brackets on the way. One of which is a special solid and big version (to test it with my heavy cameras, especially the Pentax 67, if it works with Manfrotto attachment)

The latest on order, also has the typical little security notches/screws which prevents the camera from sliding off. Not all plates have that, I have noticed - so there you have to be like extra careful.


One criticism about Arca Swiss

I feel that the Arca Swiss standard (the clamp mechanism itself) is a potential source of serious error. That, if you are not careful - it could make the camera crash to the ground. Like - when think the plate has latched inside the clamp mechanism - but hasn't... then you are in for a nasty surprise and the camera - especially in darkness - simply falls off.

The kind of... uhm... Ooops, moment.

This can never happen with the Manfrotto 577 standard by the way (i mean that the camera and it's place tilts sideways off and falls to the ground) Once you slide the plate with camera into the slider - - it can not detach. With Arca Swiss, you need to be present when and what you do, while locking down the camera - that it is properly locked in.

It only takes one error, and a sensitive modern camera will crash to the floor. It may still work, but who knows what else is out of alignment ? So, i am very careful when i deal with the Arca Swiss standard, no matter which type of plate or clamp.

Always double check. Basta !

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