January 6, 2021

SmallRig L-Plate Review

When you want to attach your expensive camera to a tripod, you want secure. The SmallRig L Plate does just the job

In my blog of suggestions for Christmas presents in December, one of my tips was an L-Plate from SmallRig. Like all of the recommendations, I don’t receive payment from the company. I only recommend something that I use.  I purchased the SmallRig L-Plate in November after I had replaced my cameras with the R5 and R6 mirrorless offerings from Canon. I thought it would be good to do a short review of the L-Plate after a couple of months of usage.

Why an L-Plate?

The benefit of an L-Plate is that it makes it easy to switch from landscape to portrait orientation. T L-Plate design is for use on any tripod head with an Arca-Swiss mount. The design’s name relates to the shape which wraps around the bottom and one side of the camera. Some plates can be used on any camera, most notably from Three-Legged Friend. However, it is more typical for the design to be for specific camera bodies. The advantage of this is that a well-designed plate will allow access to all the battery compartments, buttons, ports and allow LCD screens to rotate easily.

Why SmallRig?

I have to say that I stumbled on the SmallRig L-Plate by accident. The Canon R5 and R6 cameras are excellent, but supply issues for accessories have beset them. I had to wait over three months to buy a converter to use my EF lenses on the new RF system. Weeks of searching Amazon for an L-Plate to be used on my new cameras eventually led me to the SmallRig L-Plate. I have to admit that there was some trepidation in ordering as the price of £21.37 didn’t seem enough to be robust enough to hold £4,000+ worth of kit.

After a bit of searching, my concerns were eased. There were some great reviews on various sites. The website revealed the company specialised in producing attachments for many cameras and was targeted at videographers as well as photographers.

Attaching the SmallRig L-Plate?

One of the SmallRig system’s nice touches is the ease of attaching and detaching it from your camera. Many tripod plates either use a D-Ring system to screw the ¼” connector to the camera or have a straight screw head. The latter means that you need to have a screwdriver with you (or use a coin). The former means that the screw may not necessarily be as tight as it should be. The SmallRig L-Plate has an innovative solution. The plate’s underside has a tool magnetically attached to it—the benefits of having something as accessible as a D-ring with the security of a screwdriver type attachment.

The only critical review I saw on Amazon suggested that the L-Plate didn’t fit as securely on the side of the camera as it did on the bottom. This could be a user-generated error caused by the second screw fitting on the bottom of the L-Plate. If this isn’t fully tightened, then it can appear that the side part of the plate wobbles.

Using the SmallRig L-Plate

A real test of how well an L-Plate is how performs in the field. In this respect, I have been blown away by the security it gives me attaching my camera to a tripod. A small lip wraps around the front of the camera, ensuring that the plate doesn’t move backwards and forwards.

The battery compartment is easily accessible even when attached to the tripod. The card compartment is also well away from the L-Plate, so it does not impede changing it if you fill a card. The plate’s side part has a large hole giving access to the ports for shutter-releases, microphones, etc.

Many L-Plates have an issue that they can get in the way when turning the LCD screen. The SmallRig L-Plate design allows the screen to rotate around so that it is parallel to the camera in both landscape and portrait orientations – this is common to most L-Plates. The issue comes when you want to view the LCD at 45 degrees to the camera. SmallRig has thought of this and built in a solution. Remember the second screw on the underside of the plate? Releasing that screw allows the side part of the plate to move away from the camera. You can now view the LCD tilted at pretty much any angle. This innovative design also makes it much easier to plug in bulky accessories to the side ports.

Conclusion

I was going to say that for the money this L-Plate from SmallRig is a great solution that I really can’t fault. However, that suggests it is a good budget option. It isn’t; it’s a great option regardless of the price paid. Plates on the market are twice the price that isn’t as solid and robust as this one. I have reviewed the R5 and R6 camera model, but SmallRig has models for most popular cameras. Check the website for details of the available variations

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About the author

As well as running Edinburgh Photography Workshop, Rich Dyson is a professional photographer. His photographs are regularly used in newspapers such as The Times, Guardian and Daily Telegraph. He also had two solo exhibitions as well as being featured in a members sponsored exhibition in the Scottish Parliament. You can see and buy his photography at richdysonphotography.com

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