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IN THE FIELD: Just South Of Yankee Ingenuity

When using tripod in the field, I have often found myself facing the challenge of making the transition from a horizontal to a vertical orientation. I am forced to loosen the adjustment knobs so I can flop the camera into the vertical orientation, then move the tripod to the side a little bit in order to re-compose the shot. And it is a rather annoying experience to attempt to capture a vertical image with a camera that is not centered over the tripod.

Several manufacturers have risen to the occasion over the years to solve this dilemma and developed an “L” Bracket configuration. These devices mount to the bottom of your camera in the tripod socket, then the camera and bracket are inserted into a quick release device mounted to your tripod head. These brackets allow you to shoot in the horizontal format then easily convert to a vertical. Simply release the camera from the quick release, rotate the camera 90 degrees to the vertical format and re-mount it in the quick release. Now everything is centered on the tripod.

Kirk Enterprises and Really Right Stuff are just two of the manufacturers of “L” Brackets and quick release plates. They build great quality products, but depending on your budget, they can be on the expensive side.

I have been using a quick release system from Manfrotto for years, but unfortunately their camera plates are not compatible with other manufacturers. And a new system was more than I wanted to spend. Besides, I like my Manfrotto. My problem was, I still wanted that “L” Bracket for the added convenience in the field.

So I reached for my pirate’s hat and came up with my own version of an “L” Bracket which would be compatible with my Manfrotto parts. After making some preliminary calculations, I headed down to the hardware store and bought a strip of aluminum, some machine screws and nuts. I bent the aluminum to shape, cut the piece to length, then measured and drilled the appropriate holes for mounting purposes and for my cable release. Next, I mounted the quick release plates to the aluminum strip. Then I placed a strip of thin rubber between the bracket and the bottom of the camera for protection, and tightened the whole assembly.

Presto…a homemade “L” Bracket and quick release system and it only cost me $13.53 including tax. Now when I want to shoot a vertical composition, I simply mount the camera in that position. And if I want my next shot to be a horizontal, I open the quick release and mount the camera in that format.

Now, I never have to re-position the tripod, and it’s way faster to set up. Yabba-dabba-dooo!!!

  1. September 5, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Awesome ingenuity there!

    • September 5, 2012 at 9:34 am

      Well thank you kiddo! It was low budget, but it works!!!

  2. September 5, 2012 at 9:55 am


    • September 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      Thanks Vickie…a budgetary photographic gadget!

      • September 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm

        That truely is my kind of gadget 🙂

  3. tedgriffith
    September 5, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Excellent! One of the best places to purchase photographic accessories is the local hardware store. All it takes is thinking a little sideways. 🙂

    • September 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      How true…I like the “thinking a little sideways”!

  4. September 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Great idea! And thank you for the detailed directions.

    • September 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      Thanks Karen, It’s really easy to make….the aluminum bends with no tools needed except for a clamp to hold it to a table or workbench. if you have any questions just drop me a line!

  5. September 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Very creative, David! Great job.

    • September 5, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      Yup I had my thinking cap on…and it fit perfectly! It’s not as pretty or fancy as the big boys make, but it works like a charm. Actually the hardest part was positioning the hole/port for my cable release. I worked with it for a bit without the cable release access, but I’ve gotten so used to the instant response versus the lag time of the self timer, I went ahead and created a port for the cable.

  6. September 6, 2012 at 3:49 am

    Very creative! and probably both cheaper and more fun than buying the ready-made 🙂 Well done!

    • September 6, 2012 at 9:18 am

      Thanks Anne, It was fun to make and only took about an hour from start to finish. Plus I saved some big bucks in the process!!!!

  7. September 6, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    That’s quite ingenious, David. I finally splurged on a Kirk L-bracket for the first time four years ago and after I broke down and ordered the D800E a few months ago, the very next thing I did was put in an order for an L-bracket for that camera. Now that I’m used to having one I can’t imagine going without.

    I like your pricing scheme a lot better. 🙂

    • September 7, 2012 at 9:32 am

      Thanks Kerry, I’ve been wanting a L-bracket for a long time, but it always ducked under the radar somehow…until I found myself in some awkward position…which happened a few weeks ago. We are watching our funds carefully (looking for a new home) so I decided that’s it…I’m making one! After using it several times since, I can’t believe I waited this long!

  8. Jo Woolf
    September 7, 2012 at 3:40 am

    That’s very clever! Colin is always dreaming up ideas like that too – really simple and money-saving!!

    • September 7, 2012 at 9:33 am

      Thanks Jo, I new there had to be someway I could get it to work…and save a bundle!!!

  9. September 7, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Well, how cool is that…and how talented you are!

    • September 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      Thanks Fergie, I had the need but at the time not the budget… (watching every penny since we want to move closer to our Mothers…Wife’s mom is 92, mine is 85.) I can’t believe I went this long without the ability of a bracket…been titling the tripod head for 25+ years and finally got fed up LOL

  10. September 12, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Wow I have to chime in with a Kudos to you. This is a fantastic idea!

    • September 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      Thanks MD, gotta admit I can’t believe I went this long without one. Every time I wanted to shoot a vertical on the tripod I would say “I have to get one of those L brackets, this is a pain.” Low budget, but it works like a charm!

  11. September 17, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Great info. Deals with a problem that always annoyed me.

    • September 17, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Glad you found it helpful John…I’ve been pestered for years by this issue. I finally said “enough”… I making one!

  12. September 20, 2012 at 7:15 am

    Great idea, but where’s the link to submit my order for one of my own???

    • September 20, 2012 at 8:45 am

      That’s funny! Gee I didn’t even think of that…I wonder how much it would cost to ship one to Melbourne…Here’s the breakdown if you are serious and you want to make one yourself. Really easy and the aluminum bends with no tools. Just clamp it to a table or workbench and bend it. The Manfrotto quick releases (plate & quick release) are http://www.adorama.com/BG3299.html and you will need one more of these http://www.adorama.com/BG3157N.html The strip of aluminum was 12 bucks ( I only used about 8 inches and still have about 3 feet left) and the two screws and one nut were a few pennies.

  13. January 9, 2014 at 4:21 am

    That looks like a great hack, but the control panel appears blocked; how easy is it to get at the USB port as I have remote solution I want to implement? – Thanks

    • January 9, 2014 at 9:25 am

      Thanks, it works great. The one problem which you point out is the ports on the left side (the vertical quick release) are blocked, but I Hve never used any of them anyway so I didn’t have any problem blocking them. If I ever need them I’ll just take of the bracket. One screw that can be loosened or tightened with a coin. Thanks for stopping by!

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