Intro to the RRS Quick-Release System
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.
A Note About Compatibility
There are a number of companies that sell gear based on the Arca-Swiss dovetail rail. 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. Arcs-Swiss has never published a standard, so we developed our own and distributed it within the industry. 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.
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 Really Right Stuff compatible. Only Manfrotto plates work with Manfrotto clamps. Only Bogen plates work with Bogen clamps. Only Gitzo plates work with Gitzo clamps.
How It Works
As with any quick-release system, the Really Right Stuff quick-release system requires two parts: a plate and a clamp. You must have both pieces to make the system work.
The quick-release clamp is the foundation of the quick-release system. Our clamps can be mounted to just about anything: ballheads, pan-tilt heads, monopods, or even skydiving helmets (really, we're not kidding!). Once you have our quick-release clamp as your foundation, then you need to add a dedicated mounting plate for each piece of equipment that you want to mount in the clamp. Each camera body or collared lens will need its own mounting plate.
You own a Nikon D700 camera and these lenses: 17-55mm/f2.8, 105mm/f2.8 VR, and 70-200mm VR-II.
You need: a Really Right Stuff quick-release clamp, a Really Right Stuff plate for your camera body, and a Really Right Stuff plate for the collared 70-200mm lens. You don't need anything for the other two lenses because they don't have rotating tripod collars.
You own a Canon 1D Mark IV camera and these lenses: 17-55mm/f2.8, 180mm/f2.8 Macro, 70-200mm/f2.8L-IS
You need: a Really Right Stuff quick-release clamp, a Really Right Stuff plate for your camera body, and Really Right Stuff plates for the collared 180mm and 70-200mm lenses. You don't need anything for the other lens because it doesn't have a rotating tripod collar.
Really Right Stuff quick-release plates have a 45° dovetail that perfectly matches the dovetail jaws of our quick-release clamps. Most plates also come standard with safety stops that prevent the plates from accidentally slipping through the clamp. Our clamps integrate safety stop relief grooves that allow for greater adjustability. Plates can slide halfway through the clamp before stopping. Especially useful with long lenses when adjusting for the proper balance point.
All of our quick-release clamps are precision machined in the USA from solid aircraft grade aluminum and finished in a beautiful matte-black anodize. Excess mass is removed to minimize weight and all corners are radiused for comfort and beauty. Most clamps are contoured to incorporate a high contrast spirit level for quick initial leveling in the field.
Ballheads With RRS Quick-Release Clamps
Because the Really Right Stuff quick-release system offers implicit advantages, it's logical to buy a quality ballhead that comes with a Really Right Stuff clamp.
REALLY RIGHT STUFF BALLHEADS:
All of our ballheads can be purchased with our quick-release clamps already installed. We offer four sizes of ballheads: full-sized, mid-sized, compact, and ultra-light. We also offer a variety of different clamp styles to meet the needs of all shooters. Click here for more detailed information on Really Right Stuff ballheads.
There are a number of ballheads from other manufacturers that are available with Arca style clamps already mounted. These include the original Arca-Swiss B1, B1E, B1G Monoballs; the newer Arca-Swiss Z1sp, Z1dp, P1D, and C1 Cube; Foba's Superball & Mini-Superball; Kirk's BH-1 & BH-3; Acratech's Ultimate & V2 ballheads; Markin's MK-10 & MK-20 ballheads. There are also other good ballheads (notably Linhof Profi I and Profi II) that do not come with a quick-release clamp, but can be easily converted by adding one of our clamps. Click here for more detailed information on clamp compatibility with other heads.
All Really Right Stuff clamps are precision-machined in the USA from solid aircraft-grade aluminum and finished in a beautiful matte-black anodize. Excess mass is removed to minimize weight and all corners are radiused for comfort and beauty. Most clamps are contoured to incorporate a high contrast spirit level for quick initial leveling in the field, and safety stop relief grooves allow for generous adjustability. All Really Right Stuff clamps are guaranteed (materials & workmanship) for 5 years.
TWO CLAMPING STYLES:
Clamp jaws open and close in one of two ways: by twisting a knurled knob on our tried & true screw-knob clamps; or by flipping a single lever on our innovative, patented lever-release clamps.
At left, an example of screw-knob style clamp. At right, an example of lever-release clamp.
TWO MOUNTING STYLES:
All clamps mount onto heads in one of two ways: They either spin onto an exposed male threaded stud (threaded either ¼"-20 or 3/8"-16), or they drop onto a female tapped socket (tapped either ¼"-20 or metric 6) and are secured with a screw from above. Choose models with a threaded center hole if spinning clamp onto a threaded stud. Choose models with a non-threaded ("thru-hole") center if mounting clamp on any ballhead from Really Right Stuff, any current model Arca-Swiss, and some Manfrotto models. See Clamp Selector Table for help in choosing the proper clamp.
At left, an example of a non-threaded center socket. This clamp is installed by dropping a screw through the clamp into a female tapped socket. At right, an example of a threaded center socket. This clamp can spin onto a threaded stud.
Our mini (1.5"), 50mm and 60mm length clamps are suitable for most photography. Our longer clamps, with 80mm (3.2-inch) long clamping jaws, are suitable for large format or super-telephotos-heavy artillery.
At left, an example of a standard length clamp. At right, an example of a longer length clamp.
LEVER-RELEASE CLAMPS: FOR ALL RRS PLATES
The graceful Stainless Steel S-shaped cam-locking lever provides desirable benefits over traditional screw knob clamps:
Easy Top-Loading: In one quick action, the clamp can go from closed to fully open, allowing easy top-loading of Arca-Swiss-compatible quick-release camera and lens plates. No more lost shots while fumbling to feed the plates into the end of the clamp.
Visual Confirmation of Lock Position: You can readily observe if the lever is locked, half-open or fully open.
Low Profile: The lever does not protrude above or below the top or bottom of the clamp, and, in the closed position, the lever closely hugs the contours of the clamp. This makes it less of a "weed catcher" in the field and reduces the chance of being damaged in a fall.
Less Abrasive, No Twisting: The smooth contours of the lever are less abrasive than standard knurled knobs, and for those with arthritic hands, the graceful lever cams open and closed with just finger force.
Super Tough, Reliable: The Stainless Steel lever delivers a lifetime of wear and rides on a self-lubricating, wear-resistant bronze bearing surface. Delivers 50 lbs. of holding power under full compression (the fully closed position) with our plates. This is more than sufficient for any practical photographic application.
Use only with Really Right Stuff or Wimberley plates: See note about lever-release clamps.
SCREW-KNOB CLAMPS: THE TRADITIONAL CLAMP FOR ALL APPLICATIONS
Traditional screw-knob quick-release clamps can sustain as much weight and stress as any tripod head can bear-and then some! Also perfect for monopod use.
Captive Knob: Knob stops at maximum opening-cannot be lost in the field.
Refined Knurling: Beautifully contoured with raised edges and a domed end to improve aesthetics and feel.
Light Weight: Screw-knob clamps are about 15% lighter than their lever-release counterparts.
WARNING ABOUT OUR LEVER-RELEASE CLAMPS
Due to wide variations in other brands of Arca-Swiss compatible plates, we recommend using our lever-release clamps only with Really Right Stuff or Wimberley brand quick-release plates. If you own other brand plates, see this note about our plate exchange policy.
Our lever-release clamps are not user adjustable, so the plate that you use in our lever-release clamp has to be EXACTLY the right width. Only Really Right Stuff and Wimberley build plates to the same exacting tolerances. But screw-knob style clamps are much more forgiving of slight differences in plate width since you control the clamp jaws by turning the screw. So most Arca-Swiss style quick-release plates will work in most screw-knob versions of Arca-Swiss style clamps. Warning: many Novoflex plates do not work even in our screw-knob style plates.
To summarize: all Really Right Stuff plates and rails will work in all screw-knob versions of Arca-Swiss style clamps. This includes screw-knob versions of Arca-Swiss style clamps from Markins, AcraTech, Arca-Swiss, and Kirk. BUT only Really Right Stuff and Wimberley plates and rails are guaranteed to work with Really Right Stuff lever-release clamps.
Lever-Release VS Screw-Knob: The Difference> At left, an example of screw-knob style clamp. At right, an example of lever-release clamp.
These two clamps are exactly the same EXCEPT the way the clamp jaws open & close.
• Lever-Release Clamps open & close by flipping a lever.
• Screw-Knob Clamps open & close by turning a knob.
In the field, these two clamps function equally well. The lever-release clamp is faster & easier to open & close, and almost 90% of Really Right Stuff customers prefer them. But screw-knob clamps are tried & true, and some customers feel more comfortable with them. We offer both styles in a variety of sizes, and all of our ballheads are available with your choice of clamp.
• Lever-Release Clamps are faster.
• Lever-Release Clamps are easier to top-load.
• Lever-Release Clamps use a cam mechanism to apply pressure.
• Lever-Release Clamps maintain tension as they age.
• Lever-Release Clamps operate flawlessly with all Really Right Stuff and Wimberley quick-release plates.
• Lever-Release Clamps & Screw-Knob Clamps are equally strong.
• Screw-Knob Clamps can be forced to apply more pressure than Lever-Release Clamps apply.
• Screw-Knob Clamps are about 15% lighter than Lever-Release Clamps.
• Screw-Knob Clamps are about one-third less expensive than Lever-Release Clamps.
• Screw-Knob Clamps can accept Arca-style plates from most makers of such plates (but many Novoflex plates do not work in our screw-knob clamps).
Replacing Clamps on Arca-Swiss Ballheads
To remove the clamp from a current model Arca-Swiss ballhead, use an 11mm 6-point box socket (with ¼-inch drive ”3/8"-inch drive won't fit into the narrow recess around the bolt head) wrench to remove hex-head bolt. A short (not deep) socket is preferred; be careful not to strip the bolt head! If your Arca-Swiss ballhead's clamp does not have a hex-head bolt, then your ballhead will require professional installation in order to replace the clamp. We suggest contacting Precision Camera Works and ask for a quote (they're quite familiar with this process).
Clamp Selector Table for non-RRS Heads
Plate Exchange Policy
To ensure compatibility with our lever-release clamps, we offer a $22.50 trade-in discount towards the purchase of a Really Right Stuff quick-release plate if you already use a plate from Kirk, Foba, Markins, AcraTech, Novoflex, or Arca-Swiss. Plate exchange only for identical model. For example, if you currently own the Kirk plate for a Nikon D700, you may only exchange that plate for the Really Right Stuff D700 plate. Note that you must send us your plate at the time of exchange in order to qualify for this discount. You may not order the RRS plate first, and then expect a refund at a later date for a competitor's plate.