This tripod accessory (or something like it) is an indispensible tool for the landscape photographer for panorama stitching. In addition to that, it is better to use this mount for vertical shooting on a tripod rather than tilting the tripod head 90 degrees.
With respect to general shooting, it is incorrect to turn the head 90 degrees a) because depending on the weight of your camera/lens and the strength of your tripod, it may sag and not hold in place @ 90 degrees, and b) you will have to re-center the tripod on your subject (because now it is offset) and recompose your photograph. By using this vertical bracket, it is just a matter of rotating the camera (as if you were handheld and rotating it). Pop one quick release plate out, flip, and pop the other one in.
There is a website called www.reallyrightstuff.com and they are a company who manufactures really great camera support equipment. All types of brackets, adapter, supports, accessories and they are also dealers for Gitzo and other great tripod manufacturers. Some of the products they offer are a vertical brackets designed specifically for particular camera models. They are very expensive for what they are – beginning at $160, then depending on what camera you have it may be higher than that. Also, they want you to buy their own brand ballhead, because the brackets are initially designed to fit into them. It isn’t until you dig deeper into one of the information sections that you find out, “oh, by the way, if you have a Manfrotto 488RC2 (among others), you may be able to fit the quick release onto your existing tripod head.” Unless it is really necessary, you may not want to spend $300 on another ballhead in addition to the vertical bracket. Your choice! I’m just going to tell you what I did.
Parts you need:
- Steel or aluminum L-bracket (I picked up a Stanley L-bracket at Home Depot for $4.82)
- Two quick-release plates for your tripod head
- 4 small (I will double-check the size) screws to lock down the quick-release plates
From there, it is just a matter of your time. Parts investment is approx $20 and it took my father and I about 1 hour to complete the project. You will of course have to measure (and re-measure) your camera so that you can find center for each axis of the bracket. This is very important ( especially when photographing panoramas (which is what I have used this bracket for on our trip to Italy.) Check back soon for my post about shooting for panorama stitching which will go into more detail about why this is an indispensible tool for getting more accurate panoramas.