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Archive 2012 · Using L Brackets
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Using L Brackets

Lately I've been pondering using some L Brackets for an upcoming project but a reply I read in another thread got me think about just using a 'standard' plate and tipping the ball-head over to 90 degrees. I understand about parallax but not all L brackets will align the vertical & horizontal perfectly when changing from one orientation to another...so if your L Bracket doesn't perfectly align BOTH axis when rotating, how is that different than just tipping the ball head on it's side? Further, when using an L Bracket that does align BOTH axis, under what circumstances is it so critical to have the parallax perfectly aligned when changing orientation?

Obviously, I don't think my needs will require such perfect parallax adjustment so I'm think I'll just use standard plates and tip the ball head...I was just wondering when would it be so critical that an L Bracket is preferred over ball-head rotation.


Aug 01, 2012 at 01:53 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Using L Brackets

Once you use an L bracket you won't go back. They are practically mandatory for some camera/lens combinations on tripods without center columns. The difference in lens height between portrait and landscape is minimal with a pro body compared to the awful 90 degree angle of the head using a simple plate. Ergonomics aside, you know that the stability is better with the mass centered atop the tripod rather than acting as a lever off to the side.


Aug 01, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Roland Jenkins
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Using L Brackets

I made a DIY L-Bracket whereby the Lens was in EXACTLY the same position in at both 0 & 90 ... I then made a lighter version which had the 'centre-of-lens > base' approx 10mm shorter than 'centre-of-lens > left side'... the diffference is barely noticeable. However, tipping a Ballhead 90 puts the pivot point way below the lens, forcing the need to recompose.

Aug 01, 2012 at 11:44 AM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Using L Brackets

I'd never go back to tilting the ball head for a vertical shot, at least not with the Arca Swiss B1 head and tripod/camera combination I used to have. The problem was that the head wouldn't tilt 90 degrees. Something bumped into something else, I don't remember exactly what, and it would only tilt maybe 75-80 degrees. To get the camera to 90 degrees I had to adjust the tripod legs so that the leg on the side to which the head was tilting was longer than the other two legs. A real pain to do plus it lowered the camera position by several inches. To me, a good L bracket (mine are from Really Right Stuff) for about $100 - $150 is money well spent.

Aug 01, 2012 at 11:58 AM

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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Using L Brackets

One side benefit to an L bracket for me is that it acts like a roll bar or safety cage for my camera. Running around shooting sports, things get bumped sometimes, and the bracket can take a good whack and not suffer any damage, where the body may have suffered much worse.

I love the convenience of the L, so you don't have to worry so much about balance, etc as mentioned above.


Aug 01, 2012 at 02:00 PM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Using L Brackets

Hey Omar,

I'm not understanding your parallax question - or it's relevance to an "L" bracket. Parallax in reference to cameras is usually in coordination with a nodal point and panorama stitching. Please explain.

The RRS "L" brackets will be 90* perpendicular. For landscape work the "L" bracket is a wonderful time-saving tool. It can be used as a 3-frame shift pano anti-parallax tool with a T/S lens, and is a nice piece of armor to protect the camera body as mentioned.

The only negative I've found with an "L" bracket and plate, besides cost, is the added extra weight. There are times I will remove the "L" and associated tripod plate to shave 8oz of weight to lighted my backpack - then wish at least 10 times that I had brought it.

Aug 01, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Roland W
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Using L Brackets

When using a standard L bracket, the height of the lens does change slightly when you change orientations, but it is very rare that the change will make any difference in the framing of the shot. I almost always re frame after changing orientations with an L bracket, but that is normally because of other aspects of the shot, and not the slight vertical shift of the lens location.

If you use a bottom only camera plate and use a side slot in the ball head to "tip over the side", several issues have been mentioned above. One issue is that putting the camera body and lens off center from the tripod makes the support less stable for a variety of mechanical reasons. Another issue mentioned above was about the camera or the quick release clamp hitting parts of the ball head or tripod structure when tipped in to the slot, preventing full 90 degree tip.

The following are more issues that have not been mentioned, or that I want to again also mention. For the side tip in to the slot you are limited to around 90 degrees of tip maximum, so you can not go past 90 without flopping the whole setup around to the other side of the ball head. And a flop to the right side means that the hand grip would be on the bottom, which is useless for me. And the point above about needing the tripod pretty close to level in order to do a 90 degree tip and get a level horizon is a good one, and relates to the 90 degree typical tip limit. With a L bracket you can of course tip directly to either side quite a ways with no need to think about a slot. The next issue I want to mention is that in order to tip over the side, you need to loosen the pan base and move the slot to about where you need it, usually on the left side, before you can tip in to it, and that takes some looking and planning. And a related aspect of where the side slot needs to be located was the biggest issue for me, which is that to adjust the aim of the camera, including from side to side, you need to loosen both the pan base lock knob and the ball head lock knob to do your aiming, and then tighten each again to lock. With a L bracket, only your main ball lock knob needs to be manipulated. I often re-frame and shoot a variety of compositions for the same general scene, and having to play with both knobs, often on different sides of the ball head, was very frustrating to me. A final issue is if you want to do a panorama using the ball head pan base, a side tipped camera puts the lens a ways off to the side of the center of rotation, which may cause a different parallax kind of issue for some scenes.

I know I always get a good L bracket for every new body I acquire, and it spends a lot of time installed and used, unless I am not using a tripod and also care about the weight of the gear. So I highly recommend L brackets, and also very much like to combine them with a nice lever quick release clamp on the ball head to make a fast and easy to use aiming system.

Aug 01, 2012 at 11:56 PM

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