Converting Manfrotto tripod ball head to Arca

adamhiram

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Does anyone have experience converting a Manfrotto ball head (or similar) to Arca? It seems simple enough and there are many options available, with price tags that span the gamut. I actually really like Manfrotto's RC2 quick release system, and am only switching to accommodate an L bracket with built-in Arca plates.

  • ProMediaGear sells a clamp that seems pretty popular for about $40, that is specifically marketed as being a replacement for the clamp on my 054 ball head, and it's a brand I've heard of.
  • Someone recommended this clamp from Wimberly that looks pretty solid, but at roughly twice the price.
  • My local camera shop sells this one from ProMaster that I'm sure is fine, but I've never heard of that brand and can't find much information elsewhere.
  • Then there are a handful that were mentioned in various message board posts from companies I am not familiar with, such as Hejnar, FLM, Haoge, as well as a bunch of generic ones that probably came out of the same factory, such as Sunwayfoto, Desmond, and Neewer.
  • At a higher price point, Really Right Stuff has a lever release clamp that looks like a great option, since the lever makes the quick release mechanism actually quick release instead of having to tighten a screw, and it's from a pretty reputable brand too. However I don't know that it's worth 3x the price of a more affordable option, and I wonder if I would be better off using a more expensive RRS L-bracket to ensure a snug fit.
In the end it's just an Arca-compatible clamp and any of the above will probably suffice, but as the single point of failure securing my camera, I don't want to cut corners either. Has anyone replaced the clamp on their tripod, or have experience with the above products or brands?
 
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adamhiram

adamhiram

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There is a QR2 L bracket for about $20 more than the one you listed
Very interesting, I had no idea such a thing existed. My lightweight travel tripod is already Arca compatible, so I'm looking to make my big heavy one Arca as well. As you mentioned, with the smaller Nikon Z cameras, a plate specifically designed for those bodies is very beneficial. Of course, I'm leaning pretty strongly towards the most expensive option, as the RRS clamp is the only one with the lever release.
 
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adamhiram

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I always like to follow up on these threads when I have a resolution. I ended up going with a Really Right Stuff 60mm screw knob Arca clamp, which required a Boss adapter to mount properly on a Manfrotto ball head. It went on really easily, feels rock solid, and holds tight and securely as expected. The screw knob is comically large, but it doesn't get in the way and makes attaching and removing the camera much easier, so no complaints there.

I originally had my heart set on the RRS lever release clamp instead of screw type, but I spoke with RRS support and they recommended against it if I plan to use another manufacturer's Arca plates, as the lever is not adjustable and is built to pretty tight tolerances. My primary plate will be a Kirk L-bracket, but I also have plates from Oben, Sirui, and BlackRapid, so a screw type clamp made more sense.
 
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mrca

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Adam, I have the rrs for an L bracket on my 35 mm slrs and a bracket on my 10lb mf film camera. Flip the lever, it is on and secure. I take mine off my rolling stand in seconds and screw it on my tripod for the field. It makes changing from landscape to portrait mode literally a snap. Worth the extra price? How much did that camera and lens cost? Ever miss a killer shot because messing with the tripod/ head? One shot could pay for it. One fall, easily.
 
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adamhiram

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Worth the extra price? How much did that camera and lens cost? Ever miss a killer shot because messing with the tripod/ head? One shot could pay for it. One fall, easily.
Agreed! The concern I had with the lever release clamp was limiting use to only RRS Arca plates and brackets, and I use Arca plates from other brands. I still went with a RRS clamp, just with a screw mechanism instead of lever. The screw knob is literally 1" in diameter and very textured, so I can clamp/unclamp the camera in about 3 seconds. Not quite as fast as the Manfrotto RC2 QR mechanism, but much better than any Arca clamp I've used before. RRS makes some quality stuff!
 

mrca

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RRS reminds me of some gear manufactured by Abel for fly fishermen milled out of solid blocks of aluminum. When a 150 lb sail fish is ripping line at 60 mph, that fly reel handle is a blur. It's why my pinkie doesn't work so well. Their reels just sing like a sewing machine. They make a fishing pliers for 300 dollars that will cut tippet finer than your hair and thick wire. Needless to say, I don't have one but my fishing partners wife gave him one for our trip to Loretto. Now that's a great wife. Ed has passed, a wonderful fisherman, and fish and game biologist. But when I clamp 6 grand worth of camera/lens to it, I have complete confidence. My studio floor is ceramic tile and a fall would be disasterous. For a 400 mm 2.8 that weighs 10 lbs, I went to a gimbel head. I have enough trouble breaking nikon clear protective filters, have 3 on my desk to remind me to be careful of swinging cameras around my neck bending over in a dark studio.
 

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