Really Right Stuff manufactures a L-plate for mounting cameras to Arca Swiss style clamps. The primary advantage over a regular plate is that it allows one to mount a camera vertically without without needing to flop the ballhead over to the side (Figure 1).
Really Right Stuff L-plates are machined from a single piece of aluminum and are black anodized. Figure 2 shows a close up image of the plate for the Canon 5D camera. The bottom screws into the tripod socket of the camera and the side is open to allow cables to connect with the camera. On both the horizontal and vertical edges there are mounting dovetails for an Arca-Swiss style clamp to grip.
The L-plates are custom made for each camera so the exact specifications may vary slightly, but generally they weigh about 4oz and are roughly 3″ x 4″ inches in height and width for cameras without an integrated grip. From the manufacturer’s site the price is listed as $140.
Ease of Use
Once I tried an L-plate on my camera, I was hooked and have purchased one for every SLR camera I’ve used since. When using the L-plate I found the following advantages:
- The L-plate makes it very easy to switch from vertical to horizontal compositions without needing to reframe the picture or adjust the ballhead (Figure 3).
- When mounted vertically, L-plates gives a few extra inches of height compared with flopping the ballhead over to the side. This is useful with travel tripods which are generally on the short side.
- I’ve used the L-plate to steady the camera against a flat surface such as the top of a wall. Since the plate is perfectly flat, this is very easy to do and sharp long exposures can be captured without a tripod.
Kirk Enterprises also makes L-plates for a variety of cameras. They are priced similarly and although I have not personally used one, they appear functionally equivalent and are probably manufactured with a similar quality level. The only significant difference I can tell is that Kirk tends to design the L-plate with an open base (they remove material in the center) resulting in a slightly lighter plate.
The L-plate is expensive, especially since they are custom designed for specific camera models and you will need to purchase one for each type of camera you own. However, it makes shooting verticals much easier, and if you routinely capture a scene in both horizontal and vertical orientations, the L-plate is a great time-saver.