Why should you invest in a quick-release system? Because screwing your camera or lens onto a platform with standard ¼"-20 screw is tedious and insecure. Not only is it a hassle to screw your gear onto that platform, but once installed the camera or lens is free to rotate; there's nothing to prevent it from coming loose. Why invest your money in a tripod and tripod head only to compromise your shots with an insecure connection between camera and head? Instead, adopt the Really Right Stuff quick-release system.
Really Right Stuff clamps are "open channel" clamps. The advantage of this design is the ability to freely slide the plate within the clamping channel: center your camera for panos, shift a telephoto lens fore or aft to find the best balance point.
The Essential Pieces
Our quick-release system has two parts: a quick-release clamp and a quick-release plate. You always need both pieces of the system. The clamp will stay on your tripod head all the time, and the plate will stay on your camera all the time. You will need to purchase a separate quick-release plate for each camera or collared telephoto lens that you want to mount in the quick-release clamp on your tripod head.
RRS plates are custom sized. Small plates for small cameras, longer rails for big lenses.
Based on the Arca-Swiss Quick-Release System
The Really Right Stuff quick-release system is based on the Arca-Swiss standard. The Arca-Swiss standard is a quick-release system that was developed by the Arca-Swiss company. The quick-release clamp incorporates an open-ended channel with compressing side jaws that grip the quick-release plate. Most other quick release clamping systems employ a design that utilizes a fixed cavity that accepts only one size mounting plate. But our open ended quick-release clamp offers an inherent advantage: Mounting plates can be made virtually any size—short for light loads—or long for heavy loads. This is a critical edge since it permits the use of quick-release plates that can be individually optimized for each piece of equipment that will sit in the clamp. With fixed cavity clamps, the same "universal size" plate must serve for every piece of equipment—from the lightest camera body to the most massive telephoto—an obvious compromise. And compromised support yields compromised results.
A Note About Compatibility
There are a number of mail-order companies that sell gear based on the Arca-Swiss quick-release standard. In addition to Really Right Stuff, companies such as Wimberley, Markins, AcraTech, Foba, Novoflex, and Kirk sell gear that is commonly marketed as "Arca-Swiss style" or "Arca-type" or "Arca-Swiss compatible." In general, most of this gear is cross-compatible (but many Novoflex plates do not fit our screw-knob style clamps). For example, a Really Right Stuff L-plate will work just fine with the quick-release clamp on your Markins ballhead. And your Wimberley lens plates will work great with any Really Right Stuff clamp and ballhead. An exception to this is our lever-release clamp; read more about our lever-release clamp compatiblity here.
Really Right Stuff plates do not work with any Manfrotto, Bogen, or Gitzo quick-release clamps. Those companies have their own proprietary quick-release systems. They are not Arca-Swiss compatible. Only Manfrotto plates work with Manfrotto clamps. Only Bogen plates work with Bogen clamps. Only Gitzo plates work with Gitzo clamps.