THE ADVANTAGES OF AN L-BRACKET
With this device on your kit list you can increase the versatility of your tripod
An L-bracket is a simple accessory that connects to the tripod thread of a camera and provides dual connection points for mounting on a tripod head. This allows the photographer to place the camera in either landscape or portrait orientation, by quickly removing the setup, rotating it and re-attaching it to the tripod.
Many working photographers choose to use a bracket because of the considerable time savings offered by sidestepping the need to tip the head itself. The latter procedure requires a loosening of the head and then a re-tightening of the locking mechanism, which may take anywhere up to 40 seconds, during which time the subject may have moved and the light changed. Other disadvantages of tilting the entire head is that weight is shifted to one side, creating a susceptibility to wind movement and potentially a dropped camera. It also generates wear on the quickrelease connectors.
Beyond these time and balance problems there is also the difficulty in shooting perfectly level image sequences for panoramas.
Due to the camera having to be swung around the tripod legs, rather than pivoting around a central point, it is common to find your horizon moving up or slanting down as you move through the sequence, resulting in stitching complications in Photoshop back home. If the software cannot align your segments it will be unable to generate a seamless panoramic image. When using an L-bracket, the camera
essentially remains in the same place when flipped, so that portraitformat images can be photographed just as easily as those in landscape-format.
When looking to source a bracket there are several key features to look out for. Firstly it is important that you consider the construction material versus the additional weight it will add to your camera. The unit will have the camera body and lenses sitting on it almost constantly, so a solid metal construction will be a major benefit to guarantee it will always hold them safely. However, you’ll also need to be able to comfortably hand-hold the camerabracket combination, given that an Allen key is required to remove it and therefore it will most likely remain attached at all times. Before buying a bracket, remember to check the compatibility of the tripod connector to be sure it will fit your tripod head. The bracket featured here is the L Bracket Q2 from Manfrotto, which uses a quick-release system based around the 200PL-14 plate, while another Manfrotto example is the MS050M4-RC4, which utilises the company’s RC4 connector.
An L-bracket’s usefulness will depend on the photography genre you specialise in: studio photographers may find little use for one, but landscape and architecture shooters will likely consider this an essential accessory.
“When using an L-bracket, portrait-format images can be photographed just as easily as those
Left PORTRAIT SHOOTING
Whether you shoot in the studio or out in the landscape, an L-bracket makes portrait orientation less of a struggle
Most brackets like this Manfrotto L Bracket Q2 feature quick-release attachments, enabling the user to attach their camera to a tripod as when using a quick-release plate
Above middle LEVEL HORIZONS
When tilting a ball head, it can be difficult to achieve perfectly level photos when shooting in the portrait orientation
Quickly and easily flip the camera into portrait orientation. This method maintains the centre of gravity, making your setup more stable and ensuring easier panorama stitching
Left ATTACHING THE BRACKET
A potential drawback of using an L-bracket is the time taken to safely attach and remove it from the camera