Really Right Stuff LC-A12 Collar Review (Nikon 70-200 f/4)

rrsf4collar-2One of my few complaints about Nikon’s new 70-200 f/4 was the lack of an integrated foot for mounting on a tripod. A lens of this length and weight is going to have best stability when mounted on a foot, and while Nikon is probably assuming most of these lenses will be in walk-around mode mounted to a D600 or D800, I really wanted a collar.

There are three main options: Nikon RT-1 ($170), Kirk ($160) and the Really Right Stuff LC-A12 ($195).  I rejected the Nikon collar because it doesn’t have the Arca-Swiss dovetail on the base.  Kirk does, of course, but the foot has to be removed with screws and has less flexibility than the RRS.  It has a lens support on the end I feel is unnecessary.  So I ordered the RRS LC-A12 package.

After a bit of a wait, I finally got it.  After having a chance to play with it a bit, here are my thoughts:     (you can also see my video review here on YouTube):

Features

  • Removable Foot Design:  Excellent for minimizing space consumed in your bag
  • Rotation Markings:  On the top and both sides (though Nikon doesn’t make good use of them – detailed below)
  • Dual-Dovetail:  The foot allows use of the very slick (but pricey) flash bracket (better explained in the video)
  • Hole in Collar Mount:  Allows mounting to a tripod or strap if you don’t have the foot
  • Slip-stop:  Helps ensure your lens doesn’t slide off your ball head when you loosen the clamp.  Handy.

Handling

Handling is very good, as you’d expect from RRS though surprisingly I did have a couple of concerns.

The Good

  • Removable foot:  Allows you to save space and weight in your bag when you don’t need the foot.  I toss the foot in a side pocket if I think I’ll need it.  Otherwise, the collar stays attached without the foot.
  • Dual Dove-tail:  Enables you to use RRS’s very cool (if pricey) line of flash brackets.  If you don’t have an RRS foot, you’ll have to attach a heavy bar on the bottom of your L-bracket, which is heavy and complicates switching between tripod and hand-held.  The spacing on the ring to the lens is less optimal, too…
  • Easy to remove:  True of both the foot and the collar itself.

The Not-so-good

  • Knob:  The big silver knob used to adjust tension is…well, big.  I really wish it could be smaller.   Mine also squeaks a bit when tightened (I’ll be calling RRS about that as their manual specifically says not to lubricate the parts)
  • Rotation:  Not as smooth as my 80-200 f/2.8 (which had an integrated, non-removable  collar).  It feels a little dry.  I’m not sure if that is the lens or the collar.
  • 90° Markings:  The RRS collar has great markings.  Unfortunately the Nikon lens only has one, so when you go to portrait mode you have to look a the side of the lens.  My 80-200 had markings that allowed me to look at the top of the lens to match up.

Build

What do you expect of RRS?  The thing is extremely solid and has all the hallmarks or RRS design. Entirely made in the USA, it matches colors of the lens perfectly.  Other than the squeaky knob, I’ve got no complaints or worries here at all.

Value

Value is subjective.  You can save $30-$40 with the Kirk or Nikon collar setups, and I have no doubts about their quality.  The extra money gets you a more flexible setup, and the removable foot in particular is a big plus for me.  Yes, you can find far, far less expensive ones on eBay, but remember the value of the lens and camera that depend on the collar to avoid a nasty fall.  A poor place to economize.  I’ve also heard reports that there is a little slop in some of those cheapie collars, which defeats the purpose.

Photos

LC-A12 Collar and LCF-10 Foot.

LC-A12 Collar and LCF-10 Foot.

rrsf4collar-9 rrsf4collar-12rrsf4collar-5rrsf4collar-3

The single alignment dot offered by the f4

The single alignment dot offered by the f4

Front View

Front View

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LC-A12 foot with an RRS flash bracket mounted. Very cool.

rrsf4collar-8 rrsf4collar-13

rrsf4collar-1

A mounting hole is available for tripods or straps even if the foot isn’t connected.

Summary

I’m a fan of RRS.  I can’t say I find the “dry” rotation or the squeaky knob were expected, but I still think this collar/foot combination is worth having.  I wish they didn’t cost as much as they do, but for $30 more than the Nikon offering, I think RRS is an easy choice.  If I didn’t care about the removable foot, I’d still but the Kirk over the Nikon collar.

What do you think?  Anyone have the Nikon, Kirk or one of the knock-offs?  Please comment with any experiences or thoughts.  Thanks for stopping by!

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6 thoughts on “Really Right Stuff LC-A12 Collar Review (Nikon 70-200 f/4)

  1. Hi, I have just changes from AF-S 80-200 f2.8 to the 70-200 f4 and am missing the lens collar. On the 80-200 I had the superb Burzinsky collar which is very close to the lens and this not adding more bulk in the bag.

    I was thinking if it is possible to attach a small AS Plate directly to the RRS collar. So a) save the cost and b) more important the bulk of the RRS foot itself.

    Have you tried this? I would like to know your opinion as I may be ordering the collar only then.

    thanks and regards
    ede

    • Ede – I’ll have to take a closer look at my collar this weekend, but if you’re concerned about the footprint, the Kirk collar looks much lower-profile, and they make great stuff. The Kirk product is a collar and foot together – you use or remove the whole thing. Personally, what I love about the RRS setup is that the foot is removable, so it doesn’t take up much space at all when I’m not using the foot.

  2. I had this combination (LC-A12 + LCF-10) on my 70-200 f/4 VR and found it lacking. The LC-A12 had too much flex with the lens. I sold it and went with the Kirk and have been very happy with it. I have the Kirk on both the 70-200 f/4 VR and the 80-400G VR and they are solid, and a lower profile to boot. I LOVE RRS and have many thousands of dollars in tripods (awesome!), heads, body plates and pano gear from them, but I haven’t been as thrilled with their lens collars I’ve owned (several).

  3. Thorough review and most useful video. Thank you for finalizing my decision. This will be ideal for the 300 f4E PF Nikkor as well as the 70-200 f4 Nikkor.

    Can you still use the original Nikon detachable foot – Product JAA78151-TPF ? I fear RSS has made their’s incompatible….

    thank you 🙂

    • Hi:

      Unfortunately I’ve gotten to the point where my kit is pretty “settled”, so I’m not sure what the current state of the options are from RRS and Nikon. It looks very similar, but you’d have to add a plate to the foot for use with Arca Swiss (or my Black Rapid rig hack). Worth a shot. If you save a search on eBay, I’m sure you’ll eventually be able to get the bits you need (RRS or Nikon). FredMiranda.com’s Buy/Sell is also an awesome places for a “want to buy” post, though it does require a thoroughly-worth it $30-yearly subscription to post an thread in that subforum (free otherwise of course). Thanks for visiting!

  4. My solution for the collar and mounting foot for the Nikon 70-200 f4 is to use the NIkon RT-1 collar, but mount it on the RRS L84 mounting plate (as suggested by the RRS website, if one digs deep enough). The L84 plate mates with the RT-1, and the plate has an anti-twist lip at the rear so the lens does not creep about the single 1/4-20UNC threaded insert that Nikon provides on the RT-1 collar.

    While the RT-1 is expensive (what isn’t from Nikon), mounting it on the L84 results in a low-profile mounting solution, and using the RT-1 the fit with the lens is snug and secure (you might say, as if they were made for each other)!

    If one doesn’t need the tripod collar, removal takes about 5 seconds to unscrew the tightening knob, open, and remove the collar from the lens. The collar can then be stored in one’s photo backpack, until it is needed.

    The LC-A12 RRS mount looks like it is too tall, and looks complicated for what it needs to do (and now I read from the comments above its fit with the lens is too loose).

    I almost bought the $50 Vello TC-N1 tripod collar, but its single rib design at the rear of the collar would result in a less than optimum interface with the RRS anti-twist plate lip, and reviews on Amazon indicate the 1/4-20UNC threaded insert might pull out. The rear of the RT-1 collar has a dual-rib design which results in the most stable interface with the RRS anti-twist plate lip. I also looked at the Kirk mount and I wondered what the thin forward stabilizing support would do to the lens’ finish after using it for awhile. I have found that Kirk’s Arca Swiss plates don’t always fit my RRS quick-release clamp tripod head as well as I would like.

    I am very satisfied with my Nikon RT-1 + RRS L84 plate solution for the Nikon 70-200 f4.

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