Confession time. Are you sitting down? My L-bracket obsession has gotten so bad that I recently purchased an L-bracket for a camera I didn’t yet own. In the photography world, many of us are afflicted by G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) but rarely does the disease progress to the point where you accessorize cameras you don’t own. My friends, I have disturbingly reached Stage 4 L-bracket GAS.
What is an L-bracket and why am I obsessed? The L-bracket is, at its name implies, an L-shaped device that you attach to your camera. It is used when you are shooting on a tripod. Its primary purpose is to allow you to rotate your camera from landscape to portrait perspective (horizontal to vertical) without having to roll your tripod head 90º or try to find that notch on your ball head so that you can shoot vertically. The L-bracket is usually designed to connect to a tripod head’s quick-release (QR) system. Most have the common dovetail mount we call “Arca-type compatible.” (Some tripod brands, like Manfrotto, have proprietary QR plates and those manufacturers usually sell L-brackets that are compatible with their tripod head QR system.)
Am I too lazy to roll my tripod 90º? Apparently I am. You might think that the L-bracket is a solution to a non-existent first-world problem, but, after you use one, you will struggle to go back to shooting from a tripod without one. I promise. Being able to detach your leveled camera, rotate it, and reattach onto your tripod head in just a few seconds is so much faster and easier than rolling the tripod 90º and then trying to re-level your camera.
Now that I have sold you on the L-bracket (or perhaps just appeared pathetic in my self-diagnosed illness), let me talk about some of the finer points of purchasing an L-bracket.
Many companies make custom L-brackets for specific camera bodies, and there are also universal L-brackets that you can use on multiple cameras. The advantage of the custom L-bracket is that they are usually designed to let you access the different ports and doors around your camera, as well as not interfere with things like articulating LCD screens. Having to remove an L-bracket to swap your battery or memory card or plug in a remote shutter release kind of defeats the convenience factor of the L-bracket.
Of course, not every L-bracket is inexpensive and many photographers, in their constant search for ultimate image quality, upgrade their camera bodies every couple of years. Gone are the days of owning and using a camera for a decade or more. A relatively expensive accessory that will only work on one specific camera for the limited amount of time one uses that camera may make for a tough sell. If you aren’t an everyday tripod shooter, but you want to have the absolute blissful pleasure of using an L-bracket on those days when you are shooting with a support, the universal L-bracket might be a reasonable long-term, multi-camera/multi-year investment.
Let me know, in the Comments section, if you want to chat about L-brackets all day, every day. For those of you who are worried about my GAS affliction, I thank you for your concern and I promise to let you know if I decide to start buying L-brackets for cameras that I will never own or use.
The “Things We Love” series articles are written by B&H Photo Video Pro Audio staff to talk about products and items that we love. Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the writers and do not represent product endorsements from B&H Photo Video Pro Audio.