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.
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.
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.
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).
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.