Enhancing Your Tripod With Some Accessories

To obtain a stable camera for long exposures, the tripod is only part of the overall picture. There are many accessories to add to your tripod to make your photographic life easier and to make your images even sharper.

When you purchase your camera it will come with a standard 1/4″-20 screw socket for mounting to the tripod, this is somewhat inconvenient if you need to quickly mount the camera to the tripod.

One of the most useful accessories is the quick release plates and clamps which are available as an accessory, one of the cheapest solutions is by using the Manfrotto plates and clamps. I have used these for many years successfully and some examples are shown below. With these plates and clamps you do need to be careful to ensure that they are mounted together correctly.

To illustrate these products and to indicate prices I have included links to B&H Photo Video


I believe a better solution is to use the more universally accepted Arca-Swiss style plates and clamps. These accessories are quite a lot more expensive than the cheaper Manfrotto plates, but I believe they are much more easier to use, more robust and much more safer to hold your valuable camera equipment. There are two options available with these clamps, there are screw clamps and lever clamps and you need to be aware that there is not full compatibility between some of the lever clamps from different manufacturers. I prefer to stay with the screw clamps as I feel the connection between the  clamp and the plate is more solid, but that may be a personal preference.

Some examples of a selection of these plates are shown below.

The Wimberley P5 plate is designed to be mounted to the camera and the plate will then mount on your tripod ball head. There are other Wimberley plates available such as the P10, P20, P30 and P40 and these plates are designed for mounting on different size telephoto lenses.

As can be seen, these plates are designed to enable quick changes from your camera or telephoto lens.


There are also quite a variety of ball heads which can be used with the Arca-Swiss style plates and a few of the better ones are shown below. The type of ball head you use is really a personal preference as the quality is much the same in similar price ranges.

If you use an L-Bracket with your camera it will make your life much easier. An L-Bracket will allow you to change the orientation of your camera from landscape to the portrait format in an instant. You can purchase an L-Bracket dedicated to your camera or there are the alternatives which I favour, such as the Universal L-Brackets shown below. If you have multiple cameras then it is probably cheaper to use a Universal L-bracket. The use of an L-bracket will avoid the issue of trying to tilt the camera on the ball head and then trying  to get it level again each time you change from landscape to portrait.