Let me say this first so you don’t miss it…….if you don’t have an L bracket on your camera, you are missing out on one of the joys of using our equipment in the field. L Brackets let you easily mount your camera on your tripod ballhead and re-position the camera from horizontal to vertical orientation without having to reposition the head or tripod, maintaining the focal plane and horizon. I’ve been using L brackets on my cameras for the past 10 years and it’s the first thing I install when I get a new camera body. Virtually all L brackets are built to fit the Arca Swiss style of ballhead clamp
You can buy a wide range of different L brackets, from custom built/fitted ($$$), CNC aluminum, to your camera to generic models that are cheaply made and are designed to fit a wide range of cameras. Because this is the “interface” between your camera and tripod, do not skimp and buy cheap imported ones on eBay or Amazon. I highly recommend buying a good quality L bracket that will last you the life of the camera, or longer. If you’ve invested thousand(s) of dollars in camera bodies and lenses, would you also want to invest in a good quality bracket to hold it to the tripod?
You can spend hundreds of dollars for a custom designed L bracket from folks like RRS (top of the line quality), but the downside is when you upgrade your camera body, typically the fitted L bracket can’t be reused on the new body, so you need to buy another one. The other option is to buy a “generic” fit L bracket that can be swapped between camera bodies. For the past 3 years, I have been using more generic fit brackets…I was tired of investing so much in brackets, so I started trying the higher quality generic fit models. In practice in the field, I really haven’t noticed any performance difference and I’ve been quite happy with the money saved on more affordable brackets that can be interchanged with other camera. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fit an finish of the top quality brackets and how they hug my camera.
My good friends at OutdoorPhotoGear asked me recently if I would like to sample/review a new L bracket from the 3 Legged Thing company. They have been designing tripods and ballheads for many years and recently started making brackets to compliment their camera support systems.
The Ellie short bracket is an evolution of L bracket design bringing users increased compatibility with a wider range of cameras. Ellie Short has a shorter 70mm base plate which is designed to give access to the battery door on smaller DLSR and mirrorless cameras from Fujifilm, Olympus, and Canon.
I was very impressed with the packaging when the bracket arrived and upon unboxing, my initial impression was that this is one high quality piece of gear. Machined aluminum construction with aircraft grade connectors. A beautiful grey finish covered the metal (also available in orange). I personally like the grey better as it doesn’t call too much attention to itself. Also included in the package was a heck key to fit both sizes of screws used in the bracket. Plus, a handy storage pouch if you want to take it off the camera and carry it in luggage or store it.
You can see from the pics that this is a two piece unit held together with fasteners. I’ve used lots of two piece units and never had a problem with anything loosening up, so I trust this type of design. Plus, there are two slots for the fastening screw so you can position the bracket on the camera in a way that is the best fit and hopefully won’t block any battery compartments.
Being the “shorty” the bottom section of this bracket is shorter than a traditional L bracket. This is intentional in order to fit modern mirrorless (or dslr) cameras without blocking any of the ports or batter compartments.
The added benefit of a shorter plate is that it also saves weight. If your weight conscious, this might just be the ticket for you!!! For most of the smaller mirrorless cameras, the extra length of normal L brackets is wasted material…..just extra length that really isn’t used. So why not pare everything down to the bare essentials…save weight and money!
I did notice one caveat to using a “shorty” bracket…if you have a larger camera, the center of the bottom plate, where the “meat” is, might not line up with the center point of the camera.
I installed the bracket on my Fujifilm GFX 50s, which is a fairly large camera. You can see from the above image that the hefty part of the bracket is a bit off center from the centerpoint of the lens barrel. In practice, this won’t affect image quality or performance in the field….it’s just something that I’m used to to have the center of the camera positioned over the center of the ballhead. I can center everything up, but I’m just not in the full meat of the bracket. I didn’t notice any looseness or slop in practice, so maybe it’s a non-issue…just wanted to mention it. When I fit the bracket on to my Fujifilm X-T3 everything lines up fantastic and it’s a rock solid platform!
The other super cool feature of this bracket and its universal design is that depending on where the mounting screw hole on the bottom of the camera is, you can adjust the width of the bracket.
You can see in the above picture how you can slide the side plate away from the bottom plate if you need more distance between the side of the camera and lining up the mounting hole on the bottom of the camera.
I used this L bracket in my RRS BH-50 arca-swiss style ballhead. The bracket performed flawlessly. My ballhead clamped right on to the indentations in the bracket and there was no slop or play when I tightened down the clamp. Strong and secure and instilling confidence……that’s how I would describe using this.
Overall I am very impressed with the fit and finish, quality and performance of this mighty mite of an L bracket! I know sometimes these aren’t the “glamorous” things of photography, but every thing in the signal path, including stability, goes towards producing sharp images.
Do yourself a favor and please check out the Ellie L brackets from 3 Legged Things. The best place to find these are at OutdoorPhotoGear.com where you’ll find friendly people and outstanding customer service!
About me: I am a full time photographer, workshop leader and creative educator. I lead group and 1×1 workshops across the US and abroad as well as provide instruction on photo and post processing topics.