Black Rapid + Arca Solution

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If you’re here, you’re looking to solve a problem, so on to the information!

A phone-cam picture of Arca bliss…

Here is a quick look at a really convenient solution to using a Black Rapid with an Arca-based tripod plate system without having to constantly un-screw the plates and the strap fastener.  It think it is also a good solution as a “quick-release” for the Black Rapid system even if you don’t use tripods!  I’m a huge fan of my tripod, my Arca-Swiss system ball head and my Really Right Stuff L-bracket.  If you read my post “When Gadgets Collide”, I felt like my two favorite photography accessories were fighting each other – my tripod and my strap.  I’ve put a video walk-through on my Vimeo Channel, but have a quick read of this article too.  The video link is at the bottom of this page.

I saw a couple ideas on photography forums that I merged into this solution. The components are simple: the Black Rapid “FastenR” nub is attached to a Kirk QRC-1 1″ screw-type quick release clamp with the Op/Tech Uni-Loop (Op/Tech part number 1301062 – B&H part number OPSCUNL) as a safety tether.  I also got a small tube of Loctite Blue from the hardware store.

Setup is easy.  I put a little Loctite on the threads of the FastenR (which makes it very unlikely it will ever un-screw by accident), slightly moistened the rubber gasket and screwed it directly into the Kirk clamp.  The Optech strap loops to the strap hole in the L-bracket on one end and the D-ring of the Black Rapid strap.

The Kirk clamp mounts to my RRS L-bracket (or foot plate on my 80-200 f/2.8) with a few quick twists, so it is quick to put on or take off. It feels very tight and very secure – I don’t see this thing backing out.

Just in case it does (or, more likely, I do something stupid), the Op/Tech strap is a safety tether. This makes it very secure, and proof against one of the more likely failure scenarios of the strap:  the swiveling hook/carbiner wearing/coming loose or failing to tighen the carbiner nut enough resulting in a fall. Unlikely, but I tend to live in a world of realized implausible disasters ;).

Mounting and un-mounting is easily faster than if I was screwing in the Black Rapid fastener nub (FastenR) – I’d estimate three seconds or less for the tether and the clamp, The safety tether is very inconspicuous on the L-bracket even when I’m not using my RS-7.

I also like the idea of always attaching the safety tether first.  It is a good defense against me dropping the camera while attaching the strap – something I worried about a bit with the original setup. Here’s a view detached:

WP_20130411_002

Now I’m excited that my two favorite photo gadgets are working together (my Arca plate and my BR strap). The setup even works fine when I’m using the massive 80-200 and connecting the strap to the foot-plate.  All told it cost a little less than $50, but that seems a reasonable price for harmony while improving usability and safety!

I did a video walk-through that can be found here.

**UPDATE**  I’ve wrapped a bit of gaffers tape around the carbiner since I never need to remove it from the “rig” and I’ve heard stories of the carbiner opening and dropping cameras.  I have a safety tether, and I think most of those stories are the fault of the user, not the hardware, but why not take that risk out of the equation?

After spending four hard weeks traveling recently, most with this strap seeing action all day every day, I’m very pleased with all aspects of this setup.  The clamp has shown absolutely no signs of loosening during use, the safety tether has never gotten in my way and the Loctite has the FastenR securely fixed.  It carries well and is super-convenient – I love it!
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(You also might want to read my more recent post “Don’t Fear the FUD” regarding Black Rapid Straps and the concerns on the tripod mount.  If you enjoyed this post, feel free to follow this blog, “like” Enthusiast Photographer on Facebook, or follow Enthus_Photo on Twitter – I’d be thrilled :))
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Other Notes
As an aside, I’d note that there are certainly less expensive clamps on places like eBay, but I felt like the clamp was a poor place to economize.  The Kirk clamp is very solidly built and shows no signs of backing out, etc.  I’ve got a couple of Sunwayfoto clamps and they are very nice – I wouldn’t have any reservations about them either. I’d get the smallest screw-type clamp you can get from a reputable company – go a little larger if you carry bigger camera/lens combinations.

Recently I noticed RRS released a “nubless” version of their clamp, which I’m sure is awesome (though their photo of the setup has the knob pointed where your chin would be… :)).  RRS makes great stuff (I own several of their products, including my L-bracket in this rig) –  You can save at least $20 with Kirk or Sunwayfoto clamps, though my buddy loves his version of this rig using the RRS clamp.

Readers: What do you think?  Does this make you more comfortable with a Black Rapid strap?

48 thoughts on “Black Rapid + Arca Solution

  1. Pingback: Enthusiast Photographer Hits CES – First stop: Black Rapid | Enthusiast Photographer

  2. This a great solution. I’m switching to an arca swiss QR system from a Manfrotto RC2 system and I was wondered how I was going to attach my Black Rapid. Thanks and I like your blog!

    • You’re very welcome Liz! You’ll love the Arca-Swiss platform – it has really made my tripod and head system “disappear” which is exactly what I want!

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  4. Great idea. Any new thoughts on the Kirk/OpTech/BR combo? I have a Nikon D700 with 24-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8 – looking for carrying options. Stumbled upon the Clinch system, the Carry Speed Pro – both seem to have advantages over the BR. Curious on your thoughts. Thanks for you help.

  5. Forgot to mention that I have a Kirk L bracket for the D700 as well as the Kirk Ballhead on tripod.
    Thanks for your help.

  6. Pingback: Don’t fear the FUD | Enthusiast Photographer

  7. Now that you’ve been using this setup for 8 months or so, how necessary do you think the backup strap is? I’m going to be using the same setup (except with the RRS plate) but wondering if I should also do the strap. Obviously it’s nice peace of mind, but also more bulk. Just curious what you think. Thanks!

    • Greg – thanks for stopping by Enthusiast Photographer!

      Reader’s Digest version: I haven’t been saved by it personally, but I’ve had people comment that it helped them. For the extra $7, that piece of mind is worth it to me, and it hasn’t affected the handling at all. I don’t even notice the strap until it is time to take the camera off or put it on.

      Long version:
      Probably the biggest test for the setup came in a five week span that found me in China and Japan for two weeks (for work, but with a fair bit of shooting across the two weekends and several weekday evenings), home for a week and then in Europe for a two-week vacation (shooting pretty much every day). If I was going to find general usability or carrying issues with my little setup, that would have been it. In short, it performed flawlessly and made me happier then ever to have it. I could move from my BR to my monopod or tripod so easily. It even made packing up and getting the strap put away quicker. The safety strap is pretty much invisible to the handling.

      As for the safety strap itself, there have been a couple of times when I bobbled a little and might have needed the strap, but I’m pretty meticulous and over-cautious, so I can’t say it has saved me yet.

      However, I did see a post recently on dpreview that credited the setup and strap as saving the owner from a dropped camera. I’ve had a couple other people say it has helped, too.

      Your comment and that post make me thing a about doing an update. A good idea came out of that thread – put blue loctite on the threads of the carbiner! I did that, and wrapped a little gaffers tape on it – I never open the carbiner any more, and it is just one more little measure of safety.

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  10. Thanks for sharing! The ‘biner on the BR strap has worried me for the reasons you described. I stopped using the strap, even though it is so comfortable to use. This will resolve my concerns.

    • Matt – apologies for the delayed reply! Work travel and life in general have conspired to keep me away from the blog for a bit. I haven’t used it, but I can say that everything I’ve touched from Sunwayfoto has been very high quality. It is an alternative to Black Rapid’s FR-T1. It doesn’t really overcome the inconvenience of having to hook/unhook the carbiner, not to mention the handling/senior moment risk for me.

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    • Rich – thanks for visiting! I’ll think about checking that out, but honestly I’m not unhappy enough with the carbiner to spend $30 on the Sunsniper swivel. It is a perfect addition though!

  14. Pingback: DIY – Black Rapid and Dolica Tripod Plate – Making them work together | CameraRec

    • Vasilios – as I said in the post, I can only take credit for pushing a couple ideas I’d seen on the internet together, though I have to say I haven’t seen anything I prefer to my setup yet. Thanks or visiting and come back often!

      Lee…

  15. I see some seriously geared up photographers on this thread and I don’t have the level of gear described, but I have done some waist level drop tests on 6-8# test packages and I was rather surprised at what sorts of metal failures I encountered. I know that one does not want to stress/overstress a $30 piece of hardware (mine were backpacking/fishing gear/ general hardware snaps and swivels) but if you look into climbing gear (which has price tags considerably lower than the camera gear items) you will see certified test ratings that should be a part of ALL high priced camera support and suspension items. Let Black Rapid and others to the tests and report back to us. Is this too much to ask? Thanks for putting the time in on this matter of concern to all enthusiast photographers.

    • Tom – thanks very much for the comments and coming to the blog! Mainly I try to think through my gear and how I work and set things up to account for that. The Black Rapid rig works for me and keeps my gear safe from my occasional bouts with forgetfulness and clumsiness. :)

      Lee…

  16. Just wanted to let you know that I tried this same setup for my 6D and 5DIII. Instead of the L-brackets, I used the Quick Release plates made by Sunwayfoto. Your setup is absolutely brilliant!
    So much quicker and much much more secure. I love the Uni-loop as a backup too. Thanks for taking the time to share this and the video. -Michael

  17. I’d like to pick your brain, if I could. I have a Black Rapid strap and a Joby Ultraplate. I’d love to figure out a way to have a backup tether, but can’t seem to figure out a way to do it. Do you have any ideas? I’m very inspired by your setup,

    Thanks!

  18. I’d like to pick your brain, if I could. I have a Black Rapid strap and a Joby Ultraplate. I’d love to figure out a way to have a backup tether, but can’t seem to figure out a way to do it. Do you have any ideas? I’m very inspired by your setup,

    Thanks!

    • It looks like the UltraPlate has a loop on the screw mechanism that might allow for a safety tether that could run between that and one of the strap hook.

  19. Thanks so much for this. I’m tired of my Herringbone hand grip and was in need of this solution. I love the way that this will leave me hands free.

    I just ordered all the parts except the clamp since I’m unsure of what I need. I also just purchased a used RRS L-Plate (no grip). I have no experience with L-Plates, so I feel a bit lost.

    The problem is I have a Manfrotto 498CR2 ball head. The clamp is their own design, so not Swiss-Arca. Could you tell me if a Desmond DBA-1 (ink below) would take care of my problem? Could I use this clamp with your above strap solution? If so, how many of these would I need?

    http://www.scvphotoideas.com/2012/09/desmond-dba-1-bogenmanfrotto-arca-clamp.html

    Thanks,
    Tony

    • Tony – if you have a Manfrotto head, Black Rapid makes a special screw you can use that offers you similar value to my “rig” – that you don’t have to remove the plate to use the sling (http://www.blackrapid.com/products/fastenr-t1). Personally, I’m not a fan of the Manfrotto head system – I don’t like their usability, I don’t like their plate and I don’t like the fact there is only a generic (and pretty bad) L-bracket available. I highly recommend you consider having a look at some of Sunwayfotos heads. They are excellent quality and a great value. Feel free to ask any other questions, and good luck!

    • Tony, I have a solution for you to get your Manfrotto changed over to Arca-Swiss. I just did this with my MH054M0-Q2 BH. I looked up your BH on Manfrotto’s site for parts and could not find that – I think maybe you meant 498RC2? If so, your ball stem is just like mine, a female boss. That is very non-standard and typical Manfrotto. There are two ways to go about this from two/three different companies. One way is to get an adapter from Hejnar Photo:
      http://www.hejnarphotostore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=16_41&products_id=170
      it is part number FM496. That will convert you to Arca-Swiss. The second way requires two parts, but gives you the versatility of using both an Arca-Swiss and to continue to use your Manfrotto plates. The first part is from Desmond, and it converts that female boss into a standard male boss. That is found here on Amazon:


      Boss Adapter / Bogen / Manfrotto Tripod Head Female to Male for Clamp Replacement Desmond

      or search for Desmond Boss Adapter. Then you will need to choose a clamp – actually any standard Arca-Swiss clamp with a male boss should work. I used a Sunwayfoto MAC-14 60mm clamp which works with Arca-Swiss and RC2 plates. Find that here:


      Sunwayfoto MAC-14 60mm Clamp Arca / Manfrotto / Bogen Compatible / Tripod Head

      I’m quite happy with mine and have also ordered the parts to get my Black Rapid working with Lee’s method. I’m also adding a connection to my tripod so that when I’m carrying my camera while connected to the tripod, it too will have a safety leash.

  20. Thanks Lee. I ordered all my parts from Adorama and Amazon including the Fasrenr T1. I also found a A-S conversion for my head, Desmond DBA-1 and will be here tomorrow. BTW, I ended up ordering the SunwayFoto DDC-Screw Knob Clamp. Everything will arrive by the end of the week.

    As far as a new Sunwayfoto head (when I’m ready) what would you recommend? For now I’m shooting landscapes with a 7D, 10-22 to a 70-200 F/4 IS. My legs are Bogen 3020’s, that I’ve had since my film days. If I did want to switch to carbon fiber legs, what would be solid and sturdy from Sunwayfoto without breaking the bank?

    Thanks again.

    • Tony, I would be curious to know if that plate is an exact match – ie female boss on the bottom? The pics on Amazon don’t show the bottom of the plate. If not and it is a male boss, look up the part I mentioned above from Desmond “Boss Adapter”, it will convert the ball head stem from female to male making the connection much stronger.

  21. Pingback: Anonymous

    • That is pretty cool. I think it should be a standard part of their kit.

      I actually like my gaffer tape solution. It works well for me since I never remove the carbiner. Their solution is great for someone who does open/close the carbiner.

  22. Lee, so my parts arrived in yesterdays mail and it’s all assembled and looks pretty sturdy and usable. My only hesitation is that I got the Sunwayfoto DDC-26 clamp and it is not a flat bottom. It has a cross indent for a male boss. Looking at it closely, because of the indent, it is left with only a couple of threads. While it seems sturdy I’m going to order up either the Kirk you mentioned or the RRS B2-FABN so that I get more thread contact. The RRS version also has three strap bosses and is 1.5 inches – I’m leaning towards it as I like the extra width and the extra strap options.

    • Thanks for reporting back!

      You definitely want to have a solid connection. The safety tether is a good thing, but the primary connection should be a really solid one.

      I’ll update the article…

  23. Great solution. I followed your advice but, as Kirk isn’t available here in Tokyo, I used Sunwayfoto’s DDC-26. Impressed with the quality of the Sunwayfoto clamp. I can’t seem to find the Op/Tech uniloop in Japan so this will have to wait until I am next in the Bay Area. Thanks, again, for a very useful post.

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