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Canon EOS 1D Mark III “L” brackets

The right tool for the right job

I finally have the Really Right Stuff L-bracket for my Canon EOS 1D Mark III. I also have the Kirk Enterprises L-bracket, having decided to order both and compare them as a Service to myself and to the readers of this blog. As previously noted, Really Right Stuff did a very poor job of explaining order status, forgivable, but not excusable.

Both brackets are relatively awkward; Canon’s placement of connectors precludes the elegant design of an L-bracket as with the Nikon D200 or Nikon D2x, whose L-brackets have the horizontal and vertical dovetails aligned. With the Canon L-brackets (most models), horizontal and vertical dovetails are not aligned, and thus any “nodal point” adjustments are different depending on the orientation of the camera—yuckaroo for rotational stitching.

The Kirk and the Really Right Stuff design are not all that different in basic outline. Here are the salient issues:

  1. The Kirk bracket has a shorter bottom dovetail section; the RRS bracket is significantly longer. Without field use of both I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that this is of little practical consequence. Possibly the Really Right Stuff bracket has a greater area over which to spread stress.
  2. The Kirk bracket weighs in at 158g vs 184g for the really Right Stuff bracket. This is of little practical consequence given the weight of camera + lens.
  3. The Kirk bracket lacks laser-engraved centering marks; the Really Right Stuff bracket has them for both horizontal and vertical dovetails. Such marks are useful for centering the camera, especially for shift-lens operations requiring a camera counter-shift.
  4. Neither bracket feels right. However, the Really Right Stuff bracket makes it particularly annoying to access the lower-left “play” and trash-can buttons, forcing the finger in at a right angle to press them, awkward at best. This is a design blunder which can be dealt with by the user, but it is far from elegant. By comparison, the Kirk bracket rounds the edge near these buttons, and also makes it an arc, as opposed to a straight line, which adds adequate space for easy access to the buttons without having to force the fingers in at a 90° angle, as with the RRS bracket. The front of the bracket has issues of a similar nature.
  5. Gripping the camera is not an issue for me. I hold the camera with the left hand under the lens, and the right hand on the camera itself. Some users might have to modify their grip if it involves wrapping it around the left and/or bottom left side of the camera.
  6. The Really Right Stuff bracket appears to have no flex whatsoever. The Kirk bracket shows very slight but non-zero flex on the vertical dovetail.

In short, it’s a mixed bag. The Really Right Stuff bracket is rock-solid but with inferior ergonomics to the Kirk bracket. Both are priced about the same, so it’s not a financial decision. It’s a pity Canon make the idiotic choices it does with placement of the connectors, forcing Really Right Stuff and Kirk into designs that are inelegant. One need only heft a Nikon D2oo or D2x with a Really Right Stuff L-bracket to immediately note the form-fitting and elegant mating of the bracket with the camera.

Which will I use? I’m not yet sure, and all these comments are based on initial observations. Probably the superior rigidity of the Really Right Stuff bracket will win out in the end, since work for which an L-bracket is useful is more about a tripod, mirror lockup, etc, and less about fiddling with buttons. At any rate, I do not feel that the Really Right Stuff bracket is fundamentally flawed, as might be imputed by the reader quote in the July 1 entry of this blog. Rather, it is non-optimal and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the design improved to address the ergonomics.

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