RRS Plates

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Mar 28, 2008
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Mike
I'm getting ready to order a RRS Ballhead and plate, but can't decide between the lever clamp or screw clamp plate. Neither one has any kind of locking or safety mechanism. Any thoughts or recommendations?
 
Joined
Jun 14, 2011
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Phoenix, Arizona
I have one of each. Actually, two lever clamps, and one screw. (Just got a macro rail with a lever clamp.)

I use a lever clamp on a BH-55 ballhead, and I love it. Along with an L-plate, I can (and do) make very fast portrait/landscape changes that way. Also some quick camera changes.

I have a screw clamp on a monopod. It's much more a pain to use. However, it should work with a wider range of plates than just RRS plates.

The only downside I've had with the lever clamp is that it can hit either the grip (when I use my 80-400vr), or sometimes catches a remote release cord when I rotate said 80-400vr in it's tripod collar. I am pretty careful to lock the clamp too, or you could have an unfortunate accident.

I'm sold on the lever clamp. Tripods are enough of a pain without wasting more time to screw and unscrew clamps.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2011
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I have the BH-40 with the screw-clamp, and use their camera L plates and replacement lens feet. I've not had anything coming loosen or slip out except when I want it to... but you do have to remember to snug the clamp. I'm just a hobbyist, so my gear doesn't get used as much as a pro's, but no problems so far.
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2011
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SE USA
I have their bh-55 head, and two screw clamps. While there is not lock, the clamp is not going to open up, if tightened properly. Just a little pressure and my largest lens (500 f4) is locked solid. Quick release clamps can always hang on something a come open.

Roy
 

IsamuM

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You can use the lever clamp without any problems whatsoever as long as you stick to the recommended RRS and Wimberley plates. However, I've found that with some others, such as the Arca-Swiss universal L-plate, the lever lamp is way too loose and will not clamp down at all. So, if there is any chance whatsoever that you might get other plates, then you should probably go with the screw knob.
 
Joined
Nov 18, 2008
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HHI
I'm getting ready to order a RRS Ballhead and plate, but can't decide between the lever clamp or screw clamp plate. Neither one has any kind of locking or safety mechanism. Any thoughts or recommendations?
If all you use are RSS plates either should work fine. I don't understand why some of you say screw clamps are a pain. Not RRS but I only have to turn my Acratech screw clamp 3/4 turn to tighten it. GH
 
Joined
Sep 21, 2008
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Austin, TX
There is a huge variance in the 'effective' widths of Arca-Style plates between manufacturers (mainly because some put the grooves higher than others). If you stick with RRS & Wimberley, lever clamps work well. However if you ever want to use Arca gear from other manufacturers, forget them.

I've tested lever clamps with plates and rails from a lot of different manufacturers. With a lever clamp set up for a Foba plate (the narrowest I've come across), several plates (including the Photo Clam and Acratech) would physically fit in the clamp but were too tight to clamp. At this width, others like the Custom Brackets, Kirk and Hejnar PHOTO were too wide to even drop in from above fully open. By the time the clamp was wide enough for the Acratech, the Foba would slip with minimal force while fully clamped, the Hejnar PHOTO and Kirk plates would drop in but not clamp, and the Custom Brackets still wouldn't even drop in...

Knob style clamps simply do not have this problem.
 
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Nov 18, 2008
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Steve, thanks for the advice base on use and not speculation! For the record- I just measured 2 RSS plates and they are 1.500 across the base of the dovetail and 2 Photoclam plates that are 1.528 and 1.486 (measured with a caliper not a micrometer). I only have a screw clamp but it is easy to see how neither of the PC plates would work without adjusting a lever clamp. In your opinion is a lever realy faster than a screw clamp? Maybe I'm anal but when rotating from portrait to landscape I release the clamp, turn the camera, put it in the clamp, snug the clamp and shift side to side to center the plate, confirm it is engaged and tighten the clamp. The actual motion of tightening the clamp is a very small part of the process. I just can't see what a lever would do for me other than cost me more. Thanks, GH
 
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Jul 9, 2008
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City of Angels
if you go RRS plates-only, i'd recommend the lever clamps. so easy to use. previous screw clamps i've used required very little turning to lock the clamp closed, but that was usually from the "half-way" open position where you have to slide the plate in from the side of the clamp. i always drop my plate in from the top of the clamp in the wide open position, where the lever release is exceptionally fast and convenient. RRS plates also have the optical center marked on the plate, so its very easy to quickly insert the plate pretty much centered, with little need to fuss and fidget.

another convenience factor to consider is when using with a lens foot. i always lock the clamp with my left hand, and the lever release allows me to do this regardless of whether the lever is on the left or right side of me. with the screw knob, i always had to position the clamp so that the screw was on the left hand side, so my left hand could tighten it.

i've used it hiking, with ballhead + camera slung over my shoulder, and have yet to encounter any problems with sag, drops, or inadvertent snagging onto objects such as tree branches.

of course, you pay a premium for the lever, so its not necessarily the greatest value. but if you use a tripod a lot, i think it can make your shooting experience that much more enjoyable. not gonna lie, it also carries with it a "cool" factor!!:tongue:
 
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Jun 21, 2008
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Minnesota
I have the BH-55 and the MH-01, both with lever clamps. I use my 400 2.8(a 10 lb lens) with a D3 and that is used mostly on the MH-01 on a monopod. This is my prime set-up for covering the NFL. When I have to change locations, I just pick the whole thing up and move. Never had a lever malfunction in over 3 years with this set up.
 
Joined
Jan 25, 2009
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I have both lever clamps and screw clamps, and both are rock-solid with the RRS plates. But for my peace-of-mind, I prefer the screw clamps.... once tightened down, there is no way for it to open enough to drop the camera without giving plenty of notice.
 
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Chicago "burbs"
I have both lever clamps and screw clamps, and both are rock-solid with the RRS plates. But for my peace-of-mind, I prefer the screw clamps.... once tightened down, there is no way for it to open enough to drop the camera without giving plenty of notice.
^ +1 I only have the screw clamp, but I purposely chose it 'cause I was worried about accidently tripping the lever and hearing an expensive thud.
 
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My biggest concern about this is the lack of a lock or safety pin. The Manfrotto clamp I'm currently using has a safety lock so it cannot come open. I've seen clamps that have a safety pin so the plate can only slide so far if it does come un-clamped. I want to go with an L-bracket so it seems my choices are limited. I'm leaning toward the screw clamp. Guess I just need to go with it and be aware that it is tight. Thanks for all the comments and advice!!!
 

IsamuM

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You often read how a lot of people go with a screw clamp because they're afraid that a lever clamp will catch on something and their camera/lens will come crashing down. This may be a possibility, but I've never ever heard of anyone who has actually had this happen to them.

Having said that, I'm using screw clamps now because I've acquired some Arca-Swiss plates that are too narrow to work with the RRS lever clamps.
 
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You often read how a lot of people go with a screw clamp because they're afraid that a lever clamp will catch on something and their camera/lens will come crashing down. This may be a possibility, but I've never ever heard of anyone who has actually had this happen to them.

Having said that, I'm using screw clamps now because I've acquired some Arca-Swiss plates that are too narrow to work with the RRS lever clamps.
I held off converting to the RRS lever clamps for a long time because of the idea the lever will catch on something and gravity will snatch my camera. Then I tried one from a friend's setup and now have the lever clamps on everything except the Wimberely Sidekick (only a matter of time).

It takes a lot of effort to release the RRS lever, and any casual attempt to free it will definitely be noticed. With the lever clamp, there is no doubt if the connection is secure.

I have only RRS and Wimberley brackets, so I don't have to worry about compatibility.
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2010
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Redwood City, CA
I started with all RRS lever releases on my Arca Swiss Z1, Leitz Tabletop and RRS MH-01 and they worked perfectly. I then got the Novoflex Macro rail and it just slid through the lever clamp. I've since replaced the RRS levers (except on the MH-01) with Kirk knob releases. I also have the knob release on my Markins Q3T (with safety stops) and an RRS lever on their BH-25.

I find the set-up time is just about the same with the levers vs the screws, the screw clamps are much, much better for macro work, since I frequently slide rails (macro and extension) in the clamp to re-position them, the safety stop is a pain when doing this. I've never had (knock on wood) any clamp open or release my camera or lens inadvertently.

Another factor is the weight of the clamp. The RRS lever is much heavier than the Kirk knobs. It didn't make much difference on the Z1, but on the Leitz tabletop, it made a big difference. All the clamps I've used from RRS, Kirk and Markins are superbly crafted.
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2005
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Annandale, VA
I have both lever clamps and screw clamps, and both are rock-solid with the RRS plates. But for my peace-of-mind, I prefer the screw clamps.... once tightened down, there is no way for it to open enough to drop the camera without giving plenty of notice.
I have the screw clamps but have tried the lever clamps numerous times. I prefer the screw clamps for several reasons. The primary one is weight; I keep promising myself to reduce my kit to the minimum but when I walk out the door the bag always seems the same weight. I have to really work to keep the bag weight down. The lever clamps are huge and I use the Sun Sniper sling so this adds to the camera's weight and clumsiness.

The second reason is security. I have an inherent concern for accidentally hooking the lever on something and seening the camera drop to the ground. I am assured by supporters of the clamp that never happens. We travel overseas primarily in tourist areas. All it would take in a crowded venue is a distracting bump and "click" the package is gone. On a crowded bus in Rome a pick pocket got into my front pocket without my knowing. In that case he got nothing because I never carry anything in my pants pockets. Another reason I like the screw kind is on my Wimberley plates They put small holes for screw stoppers at each end so even if the thumb screw comes loose the connector will simply slide to the screw stopper and remain on the connector.
 

Butlerkid

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Well, I used screw clamps for years. When buying my new RRS ballhead, I also agonized about screw vs lever. I got the level clamp and LOVE IT! It is much faster than the lever. And more secure for me, since I don't have to worry about getting the screw "cinched up".

It is solid enough I even use it on rare occasion with my 200-400!
 
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Seems strange they don't put a safety catch on them like Manfrotto does, even if just to allay people's fears.
 
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Here is the screw set up on my D3 mounted to the Sun Sniper sling (thanks Mike66). Note the embedded wire in the sling to foil razor yielding snatch and grab thieves. There are set screws at each end of the bracket to keep the clamp from slipping off should the knob loosen.

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Roich
 
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