Photography is a dynamic industry and it is ever changing. There are times when technology that already exists becomes the flavour of the season. Read this article to find out why quick release plates are gaining currency this wildlife photography season. All we can say is, this season, change the way you shoot.
We at Nature Lounge did a random survey and five out of ten wildlife photography and bird photography enthusiasts said that they do not use quick release plates. Our survey did not seek to find the reason behind people not using quick release plates, but, a lingering question is, why would one not use them?
A quick Google search would tell you that quick release plates help in mounting and unmounting of the camera. They make the process easy.
We know what is going on in your mind right now. What were photographers doing in the absence of these quick release plates -- isn’t that question on your mind? Were they not attaching their cameras or lenses to the tripods?
No beating around the bush. We were certainly able to mount even then. We can do that even now. We were simply screwing the equipment onto the tripod with the standard ¼” or ⅜” screw. Neither is this difficult, nor is it a time consuming activity. In that case, why are we even talking about making the process of mounting and unmounting easy?
May be because some of us find it frustrating to operate the allen keys when it is really warm out there in the field. That is when we wish the process was easier. A worse scenario is when we cannot find the allen keys just when we need them the most to un-mount the camera and lens equipment -- left them back home? In the hotel? Or are they hidden in the camera bag?
For specific cases such as bird photography, wildlife photography and the genres of photography where one uses the big telephoto lenses, it is a bit more cumbersome.
What if it starts raining and all you want to do is, run with your camera and lens set up to a shelter without having to unscrew the set up? What do you do when you want to use two camera bodies with lenses attached on each? Do you keep mounting and unmounting camera bodies? Or perhaps, take a spare tripod with you? What if you wish to quickly take the camera and lens set up off the tripod and mount it onto a camera bean bag in a matter of seconds?
Working around these circumstances is not rocket science. Time-consuming, yes, but still doable. However, the idea is not to work really hard when out there in the field. Moreover, if your subjects are a bit unpredictable -- say wildlife, birds or such objects, how do you plan mounting and unmounting of the camera and lens set-up in advance? The challenges that we need to address in wildlife photography and bird photography, in particular are, to be able to quickly react to the changing surroundings and comfortably as well as easily change the position of our equipment.
The process of mounting or un-mounting is the most unassuming process, yet, it is essential and it takes so much time. Not to mention the wear and tear it causes to your equipment in the process of attaching and removing. We do not even want to scare you with the thought that it will certainly reduce the resale value of your equipment when you get to upgrading it -- but, isn’t that the truth?
This is exactly where the quick-release system comes into our rescue.
See, a quick release system has two parts - a clamp and a plate. The clamp stays on your tripod head whereas the plate stays on your camera or lens all the time. So, ideally, one would prefer to have dedicated QR plates for each camera as well as lens.
A quick release plate allows you to quickly mount and un-mount your camera and lens set up from the tripod.
All that you need to do is, screw the quick release plate onto your lens collar foot or the base of your camera body. This is a one-time process. Now, your camera or lens will easily slip into any quick release clamp of a tripod head.
Now, where do you find this quick release clamp? It is on the top of your tripod head. Most tripod heads come with attached clamps. Or else, you can easily procure one.
Please do not get confused at all. Let us look at this image to understand better. Who would know better than us that a picture says more than a thousand words!
Do you see the plate attached to the camera base? It has been inserted into the quick release system of this tripod head.
This is the reason we said, if you already have a tripod head with a quick release clamp, all you need is a quick release plate. These quick release plates attach to your lens or camera using standard photography screws. There are mounting screw points on the tripod mounting sockets of your lens collars as well as cameras. You can tighten the same using an allen key or fastening handle screws. The quick release plates listed on this website are Arca Swiss compatible.
What is Arca Swiss? Let us decode this for you. Quick release system comes in different formats: Arca Swiss technology and the Manfrotto technology. Arca Swiss is the most commonly accepted quick release system. In fact, recognising this widespread acceptance, Manfrotto also launched a 'Top Lock' quick release system for its tripod heads that's compatible with standard Arca Swiss-type plates.
Ouch! That sounds like a lot of technology! Probably, that is the reason they say choosing a tripod head is like choosing a spouse. You need to do some research before you decide on the tripod head you are going to stay with.
Why is the photography industry a fan of the Arca Swiss quick release system?
Arca-Swiss quick release system is compatible with a number of brands such as Acratech, Arca-Swiss, Foba, Graf/Studioball, Gitzo, Kirk, Novoflex, NPC, Oben, RRS, Vanguard and Wimberley.
As explained above, cameras and lenses that are fitted with quick-release plates are easy to attach and release from the tripod head clamps within seconds, thereby speeding up setup and take-down. What you have done is, made your camera and lens set-up portable.
So coming back to where it all started. Why are quick release plates in fashion this season? Well, they have been around for quite some time. Just that an increasing number of people are taking to wildlife photography and with that, ease of shooting and comfort while in the field matters. Not everyone is interesting in taking to a profession or hobby that is all about dust and mud and and rugged terrains and fighting weather. We can thank these people for re-introducing technology to us that makes life easier.