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10-23-2018, 09:00 AM   #1
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Just bought into the Arca-Swiss QR system

After over a year of being on the fence, I've finally bought into the Arca-Swiss quick-release system. I've acquired an Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1+ sp and a couple of plates, including a SpiderPro lens collar plate for use on my D FA* 70-200mm lens. I'm using this on my Oben CTM-2500 monopod, but will eventually get a better monopod as well as a proper tripod, (edit: see post #6) not to mention more lenses. Alas, my budget is limited and I don't have that much money to acquire all that gear at once.

The free motion allowed by a ball head takes some time to get used to, but the advantage of the Arca-Swiss head is that doesn't tip over as easily under load because it uses a spheroid ball whose tension increases as you move it away from the center position, addressing a problem I've constantly had with the tilt head it replaced.

The hard part, however, is properly deciding what heads and plates to buy. The Arca-Swiss QR system is very confusing to a newcomer, and I talked with the B&H sales associate for a long time before buying, discussing how supposedly "Arca-compatible" plates and mounts can be incompatible with other manufacturer's due to proprietary extensions and modifications, such as pins or other protrusions in the head and/or plate and inconsistent plate widths.

One last thing: B&H only lists the Monoball Z1 sp but the new Z1+ sp has the same SKU, so don't be alarmed if you can't find the new Z1+ model on their website.

Any hints on using this or suggestions on future expansion? Your thoughts on the Arca-Swiss system and its compatibility issues?

Draco


Last edited by bwDraco; 11-03-2018 at 07:31 AM.
10-23-2018, 10:00 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by bwDraco Quote
The hard part, however, is properly deciding what heads and plates to buy. The Arca-Swiss QR system is very confusing to a newcomer, and I talked with the B&H sales associate for a long time before buying, discussing how supposedly "Arca-compatible" plates and mounts can be incompatible with other manufacturer's due to proprietary extensions and modifications, such as pins or other protrusions in the head and/or plate and inconsistent plate widths.
I have yet to use a plate "made for Arca-Swiss" which doesn't fit on an Arca-Swiss compatible head. Counting quickly, I've used plates from 7 brands, plus a few chinese no-names.

The huge majority of head clamps have enough width to adjust to small variations. And the vast majority of plates use mostly the same system. Blocking, when present, is usually done via screws which can be removed completely if needed.

I wouldn't overthink this, and I certainly wouldn't pay a huge amount for a plate. Get a cheap one that works, except if you want something specific (low profile, etc). For my part all my cameras are mounted permanently with Peak Design plates because I use their Capture Clips a lot, and my large lenses are mounted with either a chinese plate of an Oben dual-screws plate.
10-23-2018, 04:17 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
I have yet to use a plate "made for Arca-Swiss" which doesn't fit on an Arca-Swiss compatible head.
Arca-Swiss heads have a few different Quickset options, including a twist lock and a lever lock. The lever lock is not guaranteed to be compatible with anything other than Arca-Swiss's own plates because it's designed to open and close to specific widths, and plates with different widths will not fit correctly. The twist lock does not suffer from that problem because it's continuously variable, but it's also slower to operate.

I have the twist-lock version of the Monoball Z1+ sp and haven't had any issues with the third-party (SpiderPro) plate thus far. I also have a genuine Arca-Swiss 40mm universal-fit plate; though I haven't tried it, I have no reason to believe that there would be any issues.

Draco
10-23-2018, 05:02 PM   #4
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After buying a MeFoto travel tripod with a Arca style QR system I have converted two other ball heads to Arca style and I've bought several plates for as low as $3.50 and all have been compatible and worked fine. There may be little differences in tolerances but all are within a mm and are no problem.

10-23-2018, 05:37 PM   #5
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I converted a while ago to the arca-swiss system, and have never regretted it, awesome ability to set up exactly to suit each situation. I have always said it's also a good idea to use a macrorail on the ballhead to properly balance your camera / lens combo over the centre of the ball, makes a big difference in how much friction you need to set on the ball and still have fluid movements available .

Like this...



Yes, there can be small variances in the plate widths, (even in the same brand products) , as you say not an issue with the screw type locking, but with the quick lever type, it can be, I know a couple of mine have a small adjustment screw on the opposite side to the lever that allows for adjustment to get the tension right for different plates. My old tripod solution thread died, (photobucket photos ransom thing) I have been saying I'll do another one, must get around to it.
11-03-2018, 07:28 AM   #6
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Surprise: I actually got a Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 for my birthday coming up soon. I'm bringing it to Central Park today along with the Monoball Z1+ sp to see if I can capture that elusive Mandarin Duck that's been making the rounds on social media...

Draco
11-03-2018, 09:42 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
I have yet to use a plate "made for Arca-Swiss" which doesn't fit on an Arca-Swiss compatible head. Counting quickly, I've used plates from 7 brands, plus a few chinese no-names.
I too have a good size selection of plates from various vendors and two clamps made by other than Arca-Swiss. Aside from a few quirks, compatibility is high. The quirks are as follows:
  • Some clamps feature lock pins that might interfere with mount of plates from a different maker. I addressed this with a Dremel tool applied to the offending plates.
  • I have one plate (FP-25 with various branding*) that varies from standard in "dovetail" cut and depth. It barely engages with my larger clamp to the extent that I don't use it with that head, but is adequate with my smaller clamp.
The workhorse plate attached to my K-3 is an Acratech model and it works well with no modification with both the Giottos clamp on my larger tripod and the Desmond clamp on my hiking tripod.


Steve

* The FP-25 is a small (25x40mm) plate with anti-rotate lip that I bought for use with my Voigtlander Bessa R3M. Predictably, it sees very little use, given the nature of shooting with the R3M.
11-07-2018, 04:54 PM - 1 Like   #8
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So... I've posted an image of the Mandarin Duck on my Instagram account.

It hasn't gone through my full post-processing routine; I had only processed the RAW on my phone quickly using Snapseed. Regardless, I almost cried when I saw it and had to work my way through a big crowd in order to even get in position and set up my tripod.

Draco

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