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The Best Quick Release Plate

If you’re at all familiar with camera setups, you know the time it can take to move a rig between shots—from jib, to Steadicam, to handheld, tripod, or dolly.  One of the tools that helps ease the sometimes time-consuming setup process is what’s known as a quick release plate for the various tripod head/mounting surfaces.  Recently I encountered why one plate in particular is better and my goal for this blog post is to share some advice and tips on what to look for when selecting a release plate that will work best for your needs.

When purchasing a quick release plate system you want to consider all of the components you will need.  For example, perhaps your goal is to take one camera and quickly switch it between multiple mounting surfaces.  In that case, each mounting surface would need the quick release plate (bottom locking portion) but not a complete system such as the component that mounts to the camera.  Some manufactures let you purchase plates/components separately.  Others do not and so you’re stuck with a few extra plates (no biggy).

While all serve the same purpose, I found two varying types of styles that feature important differences you may want to consider in how they secure your equipment.

A standard and relatively inexpensive quick release plate is the Manfrotto 357 Pro adapter and 357PL plate system.

Just keep in mind that this is not a low profile system and therefore you need to make sure you have the clearance necessary to secure your equipment when using this system.  Notice how the knob rotates around, requiring extra room above and below.

Based on the size of your camera setup and the location of this plate on your particular mounting surface, it may not be the best choice for your apparent application.  If you’re using a smaller DSLR style camera, you may be able to get away with a very inexpensive model, the Manfrotto 394 with 410PL plate.

If you don’t mind spending some more money and want a system that will give you some room to grow your rig, I suggest you look at the Kessler Kwik release plate system.  It’s a very rugged, easy to use low profile system that features drop-in latching and a drop-gate release mechanism.  The engineering associated with the Kwik product is superior to that of the Manfrotto solution, requiring virtually no effort when removing a unit from the base plate (the Manfrotto setup is prone to get stuck in my personal experiences).

The system even features a variety of compatible varied camera plates, allowing you to select the one best suited for your particular rig.  It’s not exactly cheap, but then it’s saving you valuable time in the field/on set and securing your gear.  I believe this to be one of the best systems I’ve come across currently on the market.

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