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12-10-2013, 10:04 PM   #1
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Acratech Heads & L-Brackets

Does anyone have any experience with Acratech's generic L-bracket, camera plates and tripod heads?

At the moment I'm using a Gitzo head that at least gets the job done, though I don't like it much. I was intrigued with Acratech's heads that I saw at a photo show, but don't really need a new head.

I now have Really Right Stuff's QR clamp and L-bracket for the K5 (still have my K20 L-bracket, though I no longer own the camera!). When I asked RRS, they said they had no plans to make an L-bracket for the K3. I've thought about just getting one of their generic camera plates, but I know I'd seriously miss the L-bracket with the head I have.

That led me to Acratech's website and their generic L-bracket. It just happens that I am driving past Pomona (where the company is located) tomorrow and have made arrangements to stop and see if their camera plate/L-bracket combination will work on the K3 and the RRS clamp I have (it should, but that doesn't mean it will).

Then I got thinking about Acratech's head and I could stretch the budget to getting one. That would get rid of the head I don't like, and take care of any potential problem with the RRS QR clamp I currently have, but may or may not work with the RRS macro rails I have (and the other reason why I really want an L-bracket).

Is the Acratech's head worth what they are asking for it? Is the L-bracket worth the cost (assuming it fits the camera)? Any thoughts about any of this?

12-10-2013, 10:41 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I have been using the Acratech Ultimate Ballhead for the past five years. It is outstanding. Easy to pack, cleans up real fine when shooting in the backcountry, sturdy. I looked at all the others, but this is the best for me. The price is right.

M
12-10-2013, 10:55 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by mtngal Quote
Is the Acratech's head worth what they are asking for it?
Simply a joy to use. I've had mine a bit over two years, great product. No idea about the L-bracket, don't have one.
12-11-2013, 04:57 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by mtngal Quote
Does anyone have any experience with Acratech's generic L-bracket, camera plates and tripod heads?

At the moment I'm using a Gitzo head that at least gets the job done, though I don't like it much. I was intrigued with Acratech's heads that I saw at a photo show, but don't really need a new head.

I now have Really Right Stuff's QR clamp and L-bracket for the K5 (still have my K20 L-bracket, though I no longer own the camera!). When I asked RRS, they said they had no plans to make an L-bracket for the K3. I've thought about just getting one of their generic camera plates, but I know I'd seriously miss the L-bracket with the head I have.

That led me to Acratech's website and their generic L-bracket. It just happens that I am driving past Pomona (where the company is located) tomorrow and have made arrangements to stop and see if their camera plate/L-bracket combination will work on the K3 and the RRS clamp I have (it should, but that doesn't mean it will).

Then I got thinking about Acratech's head and I could stretch the budget to getting one. That would get rid of the head I don't like, and take care of any potential problem with the RRS QR clamp I currently have, but may or may not work with the RRS macro rails I have (and the other reason why I really want an L-bracket).

Is the Acratech's head worth what they are asking for it? Is the L-bracket worth the cost (assuming it fits the camera)? Any thoughts about any of this?
I've had the Acratech GP ballhead with lever clamp for 12months. It's reversible for self levelling when doing panorama shots. Not cheap but a quality product that is a joy to use. Managed to save a few bob by making my own 'L' and 'nodel' bracket.

12-11-2013, 05:27 AM - 1 Like   #5
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I have two, an 'Ultimate' and a GP (got a good deal ) since I have a light carbon for shorts hikes and a Manfrotto 055XProB for longer lenses and more stability. I tried many different combos but would not trade either a present. They handle all the weight I can put on them securely - portrait/landscape, tighten easily and securely and have big enough knobs that I have no trouble adjusting by feel, even in the dark. Highly recommend either model. Because of the full range of locking positions, i've never felt the need for an "L" bracket.
If you are in the area of their plant, try them out. I think you'll be sold.
12-11-2013, 06:56 AM   #6
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I managed to find a used GV2 several years back, and that's all I need. It's lightweight, strong, firm, intuitive, attractive. I use a Mestos universal L-bracket, so I can keep my L-bracket through changes of camera bodies. That combination is perfect for me. (I have a gimbal-style head for any particularly long telephoto arrangements.) I highly recommend a setup similar to this.
12-11-2013, 09:19 PM   #7
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Thank you all for your comments, I appreciate them. Your comments encouraged me to talk to them about a head as well as the generic L-bracket and plate. I had a wonderful time talking to the people there about what would fit the K3 (one of their generic plates works perfectly) and how it all fits with my RRS macro rails. Because I was there and paying cash, I got all three for a discount, very cool! The people there are wonderful, SO helpful! I now own a GP head that I like as well as my tripod legs, everything fits properly with no sign of slippage or any problems. I highly recommend them!

12-11-2013, 09:41 PM   #8
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I have the GP-s head. I wanted to buy a quality ballhead that would last me the rest of my life and that would be useful in any situation, as well as be lightweight enough to hike around with. I think this one fits the bill. I even put 10lb lenses on it in "gimble mode" and it works great, although I will probably get a real gimble or gimble adapter at some point just so it will be on-axis. (The gimble mode holds the weight fine as long as you have a good support underneath and works smoothly for tilting, but the panning is less smooth and the lens is off-center on that axis.) Acratech heads are designed to be virtually maintenance-free, you never have to lubricate them or anything, nowhere for dirt to get trapped, etc. I also got an Acratech leveling base, which I often find useful as well.

As far as (regular flat) plates, I don't see any reason to spend top dollar on those as there are many cheaper alternatives that are just as good. Haven't tried their L-plate...
12-13-2013, 09:08 PM   #9
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As an update, now having used the equipment a bit. The tripod head is a dream to use compared to my Gitzo head, well worth the money. The L-bracket works the way it's supposed to, and offers some advantages and disadvantages. It fits the K3 very nicely, you can adjust it in a number of ways. However, it mounts to the camera by way of the camera plate - it has a knob to release the camera from it. At first I had the knob mounted toward the front, figuring it would be out of the way of the controls for the tripod head. That works all right, but if you are using a zoom lens (like the 16-50) the knob will be in the way of the zoom ring if you are hand-holding. So then I turned it around where the knob was on the back. That allows better hand-holding access to the zoom ring, but makes the camera awkward to carry (the knob is poking at you). My conclusion is that I won't leave the L-bracket on the camera if I don't have a specific reason for using it on the tripod - something I tend to do with the dedicated RRS L-bracket on the K5.

I also have Optech's sling stap. The RRS dedicated L-bracket has a slot for attaching a strap like the Optech strap's loop, while the Acratech camera plate does not. I could attach it to the L-bracket but then I'd have the knob to deal with. It might not be so bad with the sling strap, as the knob wouldn't be facing either me or my hand as it tries to handle a zoom ring. I'll try that later on, that's potentially a way to completely solve the problem of the L-bracket's knob.

So my solution isn't ideal for every situation I will find myself in, but it does what I want it to, and the disadvantages can be worked around. I've solved my initial issue (mounting the camera to my tripod at all, and having something so I can use my macro rails). And I finally have a tripod head I'm happy with - that's huge. The quality is excellent, everything fits and I'm a happy camper.
12-13-2013, 09:53 PM   #10
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Which head did you get?
11-30-2014, 10:51 AM   #11
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When comparing Ultimate Ballhead and GP / GP-s / GP-ss, I can't find any real difference...

All 4 have the same features:
Quick Release Clamp:Yes, Locking Lever (Arca-Swiss compatible)Quick Release Camera PlateRequired, Not Included (Arca-Swiss compatible)Detent PinYesSpirit LevelYesSeparate Adjustable TensionYesSeparate Pan ControlYesGimbalYesBuilt In Panoramic LevelingYes

I decided for the "Lever Clamp" version as I guess that the lever might be useful.


But now I have a dilemma, which of these 4 types to choose... Any recommendation?


(I plan to use this head in combo with Manfrotto MT 190CXPRO4 tripod.)



11-30-2014, 10:59 AM   #12
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QuoteQuote:
The difference between the GP-SS and the GP-S is that the GP-SS has a 1.87” (46mm) long quick release clamp and the GP-S has a 2.37” (60mm) long quick release clamp.
QuoteQuote:
Our Acratech GP-s Ballhead has all the benefits and features of our GP Ballhead including the ability to function as a gimbal head (image #3/#4) but has been designed with a smaller diameter base of 2 1/16 inches (53 mm) to allow it to be used with travel type tripods where the legs fold around the tripod head.
Check the size of the top plate on the Manfrotto to see whether the GP or the GPS fits better. The GPSS is a smaller version designed for travel pods that fold up.

PS> I prefer the locking knob rather than the lever, but that's just personal preference. I had a poor experience with a lever lock on a previous head (not Acratech) that kinda soured me on them. Never used the Acratech one though.
11-30-2014, 11:31 AM   #13
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The knob will be more secure than the lever -- I think they even point that out. Also with the knob it is easy to loosen it just slightly so you can slide the plate forward or back a little without releasing it entirely. (But I've never used the lever.)

The Ultimate Ballhead and the GP series are certainly different, but among the GPs it it just matter of size of the base and the clamp, and they moved the position of the panning lock knob for the s and ss...
11-30-2014, 12:12 PM   #14
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I stopped buying dedicated (read: expensive) "L plates" for my camera bodies ever since I purchased the Acratech generic L-bracket which I now use with all my camera bodies (I own several bodies). I am also a big fan of Acratech ballheads -- IMHO the best lightweight travel ballhead available.

YMMV

Michael
11-30-2014, 12:35 PM   #15
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So if I get it correct, the set should consist of:
- GP ballhead
- quick release plate
- nodal rail
- (extended) universal L bracket
Counted together, I could buy another K-3
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