Rodney Campbell's Blog

Review: Kirk BL-D600 L-Bracket for Nikon D600…

by on Mar.16, 2013, under Life, Photography

I do quite a bit of landscape work – I like the slow contemplative work. I also do the odd stitched panorama and as of late have been doing more of them.

I’d been thinking of investing in an arca swiss compatible L-Bracket for my camera for some time (at first for my D7000 and more recently for my D600).

For those unfamiliar with L-Brackets (or L-Plates) then essentially these are a right-angle quick release “plate” which fits the base of your digital or film camera. It’s advantages are that allows you to quick release, turn and remount your camera for either a horizontal or vertical shot without having to change your tripod, head, level or composition. You no longer have to flip your tripod head to the side which can change the height, composition, etc of your camera. Most L-Brackets also allow easy access to the camera battery and I/O ports with the plate attached. In fact most brackets are designed to be left on the camera permanently and most brackets are also designed for one specific camera in mind (you get the specific plate model to suit your camera (and whether it has a battery grip or not)).

I considered a number of different L-Brackets for my D600 including the Really Right Stuff BD600-L, ProMediaGear PLND600 and Hejnar Photo D600 L Bracket but I finally decided to order the Kirk BL-D600 from B&H Photo.

I would have likely purchased the Really Right Stuff bracket except for one thing – with the D600 it is not compatible with Nikon’s LCD screen protector – in other words you have to permanently remove the LCD protector screen when you have the L-plate on. For me this was unacceptable so I went for the well respected Kirk option instead.

The Kirk BL-D600 is a custom made one-piece bracket machined from light weight 6061T6 aluminum. It’s not as “glossy” as the RRS bracket but it is very well made and fits the camera like a glove – like it should.

The plate does not require you to remove the LCD cover and it does allow you some flexibility on how close you fit the plate to the side of the camera body (so it can be offset from the body if you so desire – I’ve offset mine by a couple of millimetres).

There are nice finger cutouts on the edge of the plate which allow you to reach in to the side port flap covers and all the I/O ports (e.g. mic/headphone, USB/HDMI and remote) are readily available – which was essential for me since I often use a wired remote release (even my wireless one still plugs a dongle into the wired side port) so I *need* to still be able to open and access the small lower side door of the camera. Note when I say I want to be able to open the side door with the plate on I don’t mean open the door first and then put the plate on (which all can do) but rather leave the plate on and open and close the side flaps whenever I want – with the Kirk BL-D60 I can definitely do this.

One small gotcha with this is that surprisingly whilst it’s easy to open that small flap with the plate on the plate slightly overlaps the hinge (front of camera) side of that flap so you are forced to ever so slightly bend that flap door to open it fully – this is why I offset the plate on my camera by one or two millimetres so the flap was easier to open fully wide. I would have preferred it if the plate mounted one millimetre or so closer to the front of the camera – however whilst the plate allows flexibility in the sideways mounting of the plate – there is no front to back flexibility (due to the angled bits which grab the front and back edges of the camera to hold it firmly in place without rotation).

It is also easy to open the USB flap and there are no problems having the WU-1b wireless mobile adapter in the USB port with the plate on.

Another plus is that even with the door open and the remote cable in I can still mount the camera vertically more towards the edge of the arca clamp with the cable going past the clamp edge.

I’ve had no problems using this plate with my existing arca swiss style heads and clamps – the main one I use is a screw clamp so I would not anticipate any jaw sizing issues. I’ve yet to try it with an RRS ballhead and lever clamp – this is where the slight tolerance differences between different manufacturers “arca-swiss” standards may come into play. I have friends with RRS gear so I will endeavor to see how it fits (given that one day I would like to upgrade to an RRS ballhead and lever clamp (like the BH40)).

So far I’ve been very happy with the L-Bracket – and would be confident in recommending it to anyone looking for a well made and functional piece of kit.

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2 Comments for this entry

  • Victor Boase

    Rodney. Just to confirm I am victor03 on the DSLR user website.

    Your post on the D bracket got me looking around at panoramic equipment which starts with parallax error correction etc. Very interesting.

    I gather you already have a rotator and Panoramic arm such as the Nodal Ninja. I do not, so I have been looking at my cheapest options. I stumbled on the Panosaurus made in the USA and selling for $99.95 plus postage. This includes a simple rotator and allows me to use the QR plate for attaching to the tripod ball head.

    Any comment on the Panosaurus?

    BTW I experimented with a couple of Macro rails to compensate for the distance between the Pupil entry for my 17-55mm 2.8 and the camera’s tripod mount (114mm) and did a landscape pano. The equipment allowed only an inexact adjustment but the result was an impressive improvement on what I have experienced so far. However it underlined the need for portrait mode to get more vertical distance in the pano.

    Love your work!

  • Rodney.Campbell

    Hi Victor – actually I don’t use any form of pano head – I either just shoot them handheld (not so often) or just use the rotation available around the base of my ball head. The use of the L bracket should improve this since I won’t have to flop the camera down on the side of the ball head and thus rotate all around the head – now the camera will spin on the top of the ball. Parallax is really only a concern with things very close to the camera – with everything else you’ll find the stitching software copes very well.

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