Rant: Tripod makers, please don’t force us to carry coins in our bags

May 12, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

Rant: Tripod makers, please don’t force us to carry coins in our bags

May 12, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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manfrotto-rc2

I am a firm believer in the power of the tripod. Tripods let you do wonderful things. You can easily composite, take long exposures, do light painting, it is just an awesome tool. When it comes to video tripods are even more essential, at least if you want to take a static shot.

But tripods don’t all match. And that would have been ok, only switching from one tripod to another is not as easy as it should be.

Most tripods have a separate head, and that head usually connects to a tripod via something called quick release plate. While there are some standards (RC2 from Manfrotto, Arca Swiss), the need to swap quick plates is not that rare. In fact, I own (and use) 4 tripods (6 if you count Gorilla pods), and almost each and every one of them has a different plate.

And I swap tripods quite a bit. I use one for stills (with an RC2 Rapid Connect compatible head), another for video (with a Manfrotto 501PL Rapid Connect Sliding Plate) and sometimes I just need to mount my DR-70 between the head and the camera.

Some plates make it easy on me – the bottom screw has a small lever. But for the life of me I cannot understand tripod makers who just put a flat head screw there. That means that for every swap I need to get a coin, or a screw driver, or something flat (fork hand was used at a time) to lock the plate into the camera.

Manfrotto PLONG plate
Manfrotto PLONG plate

That not only makes it inconvenient to put and remove the quick plate. It requires carrying another “thing” to swap plates. and “things” ten to get lost the second you need them most. Show me the photographer who did not go begging for a penny on the street to adjust a plate, and I will show you a photographer who do not swap plates.

I did a quick search, lots of quick release plates require a coin: Manfrotto long plate, 3LT plates, and lots of cheaper sticker brands.

This brings me to the place of the even more annoying “specialized” quick release plates. Custom SLR makes a great plate – the M Plate, but it not only needs a “thing” to attach it to the camera. It needs an Allan key. An Allen key is shipped with the plate, but it took me 5 seconds to lose it.

Custom SLR M plate
Custom SLR M plate

The Spider Holster also needs an Allan key, but at least it is attached to the plate (not that it prevents it from getting lost… It just delays the inevitable).

Spider Holster
Spider Holster

If my point is still not clear, let me put it here in bold: Tripod Makers, please make tripods that need no tools!

// end rant.

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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16 responses to “Rant: Tripod makers, please don’t force us to carry coins in our bags”

  1. Alexy Frangieh Avatar
    Alexy Frangieh

    converted my whole system into hex plates :) these break too easy if fully tightened

  2. Sigurd Rage Avatar
    Sigurd Rage

    I hate tripod plates with built in tighteners. You cannot screw those tight enough anyways, and as for loosing your tools – that’s not really an argument…

  3. Rob P Avatar
    Rob P

    Seriously? Quick! Call the waaambulance.

  4. Lucia Hewitt Avatar
    Lucia Hewitt

    I couldn’t agree more!!!

  5. Sean Avatar
    Sean

    Keys? You do carry keys, right? Well the allen key you show has a loop for putting on..wait for it..your keychain. :) And speaking of keys, you can use a house key to tight the ones that have the slot. But I do agree that there should be a standard. Arca Swiss is my favorite type.

  6. Jouni Rinne Avatar
    Jouni Rinne

    It’s nice to see I’m not the only tool-needing-QR-plate-hater :) . I complained about the same problem in my blog http://miranda.fv.dy.fi/archives/1124 some time ago. Hopefully someone in the tripod designing business reads this someday…

  7. Scott Ackerman Avatar
    Scott Ackerman

    Arca Swiss plates on all my cameras and clamps on all tripods. Problem solved :-)

    1. Ryan Farr Avatar
      Ryan Farr

      Yeah, a lot of great head take the arca swiss plate, It’s basically the standard. Plus arca swiss compatible plates can be found on ebay for $2 each. I keep a plate on camera and on all lens collars. It’s called a quick release for a reason, not a fiddle to install and take off every time you want to use it.

  8. Jeffrey B George Avatar
    Jeffrey B George

    I ended up buying this hex key set, I plan to move the few SAE keys with the few metric keys I frequently use into one set. Love the small size and light weight. http://m.harborfreight.com/hand-tools/hex-wrenches/3-piece-folding-ball-hex-key-set-98523.html

  9. Jeffrey B George Avatar
    Jeffrey B George

    I really like this too, I have one for each camera. https://www.edelkrone.com/us/p/492/quickreleaseone

  10. Jeremy Grasz Avatar
    Jeremy Grasz

    Huh. I just use my house key.

  11. Chris Rogers Avatar
    Chris Rogers

    Ugh yes. It’s such a pain. I bought an Induro set up a few years ago and it’s plate has a fold down D-ring that lets you screw and unscrew the plate. A life saver for sure

  12. Mike King Avatar
    Mike King

    You can also buy a cheap set of folding Allen wrenches, disassemble the set and put the 5/32 key on your keyring (that’s the one that the Arca-type plates use). And I’ve found cheap Allen wrench sets at the Dollar Tree. I also put a wrench with each tripod, using gaffer tape, and a spare plate on the QR clamp on top of each tripod.

  13. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar
    Arthur_P_Dent

    Or do what Scott Eggleston suggested at The Frugal Filmmaker: Put a washer on your keyring.

    1. Wing Wong Avatar
      Wing Wong

      Nice! I have just that on my keyring!

  14. gtvone Avatar
    gtvone

    All 3LeggedThing tripods have two allen keys in a special pocket in the included tripod carry bag, that’s my two cents…