Peak Design Travel Tripod with various plates and other thoughts...

Started Jan 26, 2020 | Discussions
LH Regular Member • Posts: 315
Peak Design Travel Tripod with various plates and other thoughts...
5

TL;DR - Use a PD plate as the best choice and a panning add-on solves most of the remaining idiosyncrasies.

I received my CF tripod a bit less than a week ago along with the spiked feet and universal head adapter. Others have done detailed reviews and unboxing videos so i won't rehash what others have said, but instead focus on some other things I've discovered.

I'll start by saying I think overall Peak Design did a fabulous job and the product delivers what they promised with a high degree of quality and refinement. I'm absolutely thrilled to have been a backer of this campaign. Any product design has compromises, and in this case what is important is to keep in mind is the product name - Travel Tripod. It doesn't solve all tripod use cases, but I think it will excel at it's intended purpose.

Over the years I've collected a bunch of Arca Swiss compatible plates and rails from several manufacturers. I tried out a bunch of them and took some side angle pictures showing exactly how the head jaws meet the plate/rails. First up are different generations of plates from Peak Design...

Various Generations of Peak Design Plates

It's not a surprise that the built-in head work well with plates from Peak Design. Now for some other plates/rails from my collection...

Various Other Plates and Rails

Many of the other plates/rails did not sit flat in the head and grabbed onto the dovetail in different places. The movable part of the clamp has a higher profile than the fixed part. Depending on the plate, the movable part may grab onto the dovetail, sit above the dovetail or hit on an overhanging section above the dovetail. The Acratech 2176 plate has a more narrow design and as positioned in the top picture didn't capture the plate at all even when fully tightened. Reversing it as shown in the bottom picture was better, but you could still move the plate with moderate force. I have another Acratech plate not pictured which seemed to work better. Other than the Acratech, the other were held firmly. I don't know if over time some of the non-PD plates will unduly stress the clamp mechanism. For my own use, I'm using one of the PD plates whenever possible.

The built-in head pointing down

Built-in head pointing down

Other reviewers have mentioned the lack of panning and the learned technique of positioning the head in one of the three cut-out sections depending on how you need to tilt the camera for a portrait orientation shot. What I didn't expect was the inability to securely point the camera directly up or down. This is also true if you reverse the head for copy type shooting. Adding your own panning adapter as I have in the PD PROplate picture above solves both of these limitations. Technically it is possible to position the camera straight up or down if you're using a square plate where you insert the camera so the clamping action is in-line along the width of the camera. This would mean that any slippage would send the camera to the ground.

Portrait Orientation Positionable Angles

The above diagram is a side view showing the angles through which you can position the head in one of the three notches when shooting in portrait orientation (shown in green) and angles which aren't possible (shown in red). The numbers are approximate within a degree or so. My intent was to show there are angles which aren't possible given the head design. A panning add-on solves this problem.

Universal Head Adapter

The universal head adapter is pretty straight forward and includes a feature where three set screws can be tightened against the bottom of the tripod head to help secure it in position. You access these set screws from the bottom as shown above. A minor point, but the included tool has it split ring positioned making it a tiny bit awkward and if the length of the tool was just a bit longer it wouldn't hit the pole section.

Lastly the spiked feet are nice by themselves, and were clearly brought to market based on feedback from the community. Unlike designs from some other manufacturers, they are a bit of a PITA to switch out especially if your shooting moves you between surface types. I wish they designed secure rubber covers for the spiked feet that you could quickly remove when you need the spiked feet.

pixelSnaps Regular Member • Posts: 459
Re: Peak Design Travel Tripod with various plates and other thoughts...

Nice write-up. Thanks - it’s very interesting.

I literally received my travel tripod yesterday and while I haven’t really had time to examine/assess it I had already decided some months ago that I would fit a panning clamp/adapter. Since you’ve already done that, could you say which panning adapter you’re using as knowing that might save me a little time when I come to choose one for myself?

-- hide signature --

tfl.

 pixelSnaps's gear list:pixelSnaps's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Fujifilm X-T2 Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F2.8 Fujifilm 16-55mm F2.8R LM WR Fujifilm XF 80mm F2.8 Macro +1 more
OP LH Regular Member • Posts: 315
Re: Peak Design Travel Tripod with various plates and other thoughts...
1

I'm using the Sunwayfoto DDH-03 with one of the PD plates on the bottom (plus a 3/8 to 1/4 reducing bushing). It's diameter is about the same as the PD head so it doesn't overhang at all (except for the lock knob and dovetail closure knob). I'm using this one because I already had it for other uses. In the past, RRS has threatened law suites against others making this type of accessory. This has made some brands hard to source in the USA. In spite of this, Adorama has sometimes continued to supply this type of item from Sunwayfoto. Of course they have always been available via ebay or Aliexpress shipping from China. I don't know the current state of RRS trying to stop this competition in the USA. I believe there are all sorts of things of this type available on Amazon, ebay etc. There is no magic to my choice of Sunwayfoto other than they often make reasonable quality stuff at lower costs and it was already in my drawer.

pixelSnaps Regular Member • Posts: 459
Re: Peak Design Travel Tripod with various plates and other thoughts...

Thanks for the info. I had thought about RRS but what with shipping to the UK plus taxes we’re talking about 450USD! I’ve bought quite a few RRS products in the past but I can’t justify that amount so I’ll look to see what Amazon has and take it from there! Cheers!

-- hide signature --

tfl.

 pixelSnaps's gear list:pixelSnaps's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Fujifilm X-T2 Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F2.8 Fujifilm 16-55mm F2.8R LM WR Fujifilm XF 80mm F2.8 Macro +1 more
OP LH Regular Member • Posts: 315
Re: Peak Design Travel Tripod with various plates and other thoughts...

Also found an older authentic Arca Swiss plate in my collection.

Fit of authentic Arca Swiss plate

I believe this is an older version of the one B&H lists as " Arca-Swiss Universal Quick Release Plate with 1/4" Screw (40mm) and Rubber Surface". The only difference with the new one is the style of screw used.

zurubi Contributing Member • Posts: 638
Re: Peak Design Travel Tripod with various plates and other thoughts...

pixelSnaps wrote:

Thanks for the info. I had thought about RRS but what with shipping to the UK plus taxes we’re talking about 450USD! I’ve bought quite a few RRS products in the past but I can’t justify that amount so I’ll look to see what Amazon has and take it from there! Cheers!

I bought one at amazon for 30+ I think and it works fine.

 zurubi's gear list:zurubi's gear list
Sony a7R III Fujifilm X-T3 Fujifilm XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS Samyang 12mm F2.0 NCS CS Fujifilm 16-55mm F2.8R LM WR +6 more
pixelSnaps Regular Member • Posts: 459
Re: Peak Design Travel Tripod with various plates and other thoughts...

I've just ordered one from Amazon - for about 25GBP. It'll arrive tomorrow so I'll test it then. Thanks!

-- hide signature --

tfl.

 pixelSnaps's gear list:pixelSnaps's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Fujifilm X-T2 Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F2.8 Fujifilm 16-55mm F2.8R LM WR Fujifilm XF 80mm F2.8 Macro +1 more
OP LH Regular Member • Posts: 315
Re: Peak Design Travel Tripod with various plates and other thoughts...

Something else to consider about the RRS panning clamp... Even if price isn't an issue, it's size makes it a somewhat awkward fit sitting on top of the PD Travel Tripod.  The RRS clamp diameter is 72mm which means it will overhang the top by about 7mm all around when centered in place. Of course the unique feature is the built-in lever clamp.

I'm sure what you've ordered will serve the purpose.

pixelSnaps Regular Member • Posts: 459
Re: Peak Design Travel Tripod with various plates and other thoughts...

That’s quite an overhang and something I didn’t consider. The panning clamp I’ve ordered is made by Neewer (Sunwayfoto is not readily available in UK) and has a diameter of about 59mm, so I hope it’ll be OK. Cheers!

-- hide signature --

tfl.

 pixelSnaps's gear list:pixelSnaps's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Fujifilm X-T2 Fujifilm XF 50-140mm F2.8 Fujifilm 16-55mm F2.8R LM WR Fujifilm XF 80mm F2.8 Macro +1 more
Fort Photo New Member • Posts: 12
Re: Peak Design Travel Tripod with various plates and other thoughts...

I have the RRS PC-LR panning clamp and its arca swiss plate connection with the PD ballhead has the exact same issue-- and since the plate is permanently integrated into the clamp it makes it pretty impossible to use the PD ballhead with the RRS panning clamp unless you are willing to tolerate a less than perfect plate fit in the ballhead jaws for the plate. Even though it's not a level connection in the PD head it can get pretty tight, but I was still able to move the RRS panning clamp a bit when it was locked down on the PD ballhead, so I am not sure I am going to be able to trust it, which goes against the info on PD's website that says per user reports RRS plates work.  Peak Design really needs to clean that up on their website and be clear about what "works" really means in this case is an non-level position that may not be secure.

I guess I will be getting a panning clamp without the integrated dove plate and that way I can use the PD plate for a solid connection per the OP method.  Ugh, it just feels wrong to downgrade my panning clamp from RRS just so I can get pan on the PD ballhead.  Alternatively, I might be able to mount the PD dove plate on the RRS dove plate on the bottom the PC-LR panning clamp but at that point it is really increasing the height of the whole operation again killing portability with double stacked dove plates.  Thoughts on if I should attach a PD Pro Plate to the RRS PC-LR or should I buy a clamp like the SunwayPhoto that I can directly mount the PD Pro plate on and thereby keep a cleaner and shorter stack?

I still feel it's a significant lost opportunity not including an integrated panning ability for the PD ballhead.  For e.g. it makes it impossible to use the PD ballhead with the Whimberly Sidekick gimbal which means carrying the PD universal head adapter and an alternative ballhead with panning ability and swapping out the PD ballhead for the universal adapter to get going. This is both slow to set up and quite a bit of extra weight that kills some of the weight savings that one hopes for with a travel tripod. I really hope there is a Mk II of the PD ballhead, and it includes panning.

Otherwise, I agree with the OP that the PD travel tripod is indeed an impressive piece of kit for what it is. I just wish the PD head was more useful and had better compatibility with third party plates.

Paul Barnard
Paul Barnard Veteran Member • Posts: 3,783
Re: Peak Design Travel Tripod with various plates and other thoughts...
1

I've checked against my RRS plates and the fit is very good, as a comparison looking very much like the PD Plate images here. The plates I'm referring to are the foot replacement for the Sony telephoto lenses.

It also works well with the generic, unbranded, Arca plates I have. The fit flush and the lock doesn't foul on anything.

Edit:  Just tried it with my RRS L-Bracket (Sony A7R3 version) and that does kick up slightly on the catch side.  it's solid on the passive side of the clamp but has a gap under the L-bracket when you lock up the catch.  The top of the catch needs to be relieved to not touch the upper overhang of the bracket.  A couple of passes with a file would sort it for my use cases but I think this reflects a lack of variety testing by PD.  It would have been very simple to put some relief on the clip without impacting integrity or strength.

 Paul Barnard's gear list:Paul Barnard's gear list
Sony a7R III Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Sony FE 70-200 F4 Zeiss Batis 25mm F2 Sony 1.4x Teleconverter (2016) +5 more
OP LH Regular Member • Posts: 315
Re: Peak Design Travel Tripod with various plates and other thoughts...
1

Fort Photo wrote:

I have the RRS PC-LR panning clamp and its arca swiss plate connection with the PD ballhead has the exact same issue-- and since the plate is permanently integrated into the clamp it makes it pretty impossible to use the PD ballhead with the RRS panning clamp unless you are willing to tolerate a less than perfect plate fit in the ballhead jaws for the plate. Even though it's not a level connection in the PD head it can get pretty tight, but I was still able to move the RRS panning clamp a bit when it was locked down on the PD ballhead, so I am not sure I am going to be able to trust it, which goes against the info on PD's website that says per user reports RRS plates work. Peak Design really needs to clean that up on their website and be clear about what "works" really means in this case is an non-level position that may not be secure.

It get complicated. As the pictures show, sometimes the non-fixed part of the PD clamp hits the dovetail, above the dovetail or on an overhang part of a plate. With so many plates out there, even from one supplier like RRS, it's hard to generalize compatibility. Also, even within a brand there can be subtle dimensional changes of design as I saw with one Acratech plate completely sliding with no fixture and another being OK. This is a consequence of having the extremely compact head integrated into the design where the movable Arca jaw doesn't move inward parallel with the fixed one. A compromise for sure if you need to use particular plates (and the universal head adapter is available).

It feels ugly and not entirely right when a plate sits in the PD clamp at a significant angle, but I don't really know if it's a long term issue with PD clamp reliability or not. It might be ugly, but perfectly OK. This is a question PD should make clear as it's in their interest given the lifetime warranty. Also, the non-flat fit really makes no difference with a panning clamp you place on top unless you're relying on the minuscule leveling bubble on the PD head (I personally never use built-in levels regardless of the gear or manufacturer and would have been OK if PD left it out).

I guess I will be getting a panning clamp without the integrated dove plate and that way I can use the PD plate for a solid connection per the OP method. Ugh, it just feels wrong to downgrade my panning clamp from RRS just so I can get pan on the PD ballhead. Alternatively, I might be able to mount the PD dove plate on the RRS dove plate on the bottom the PC-LR panning clamp but at that point it is really increasing the height of the whole operation again killing portability with double stacked dove plates. Thoughts on if I should attach a PD Pro Plate to the RRS PC-LR or should I buy a clamp like the SunwayPhoto that I can directly mount the PD Pro plate on and thereby keep a cleaner and shorter stack?

Since you already invested in the RRS PC-LR, it might depend on how often you'd need to use the panning function. I agree that putting a plate under the RRS PC-LR doesn't seem ideal.

I still feel it's a significant lost opportunity not including an integrated panning ability for the PD ballhead. For e.g. it makes it impossible to use the PD ballhead with the Whimberly Sidekick gimbal which means carrying the PD universal head adapter and an alternative ballhead with panning ability and swapping out the PD ballhead for the universal adapter to get going. This is both slow to set up and quite a bit of extra weight that kills some of the weight savings that one hopes for with a travel tripod. I really hope there is a Mk II of the PD ballhead, and it includes panning.

I agree a built-in panning function above the ball mechanism would have been ideal.

Otherwise, I agree with the OP that the PD travel tripod is indeed an impressive piece of kit for what it is. I just wish the PD head was more useful and had better compatibility with third party plates.

zurubi Contributing Member • Posts: 638
Re: Peak Design Travel Tripod with various plates and other thoughts...

I am going to start a new thread on the head only....

 zurubi's gear list:zurubi's gear list
Sony a7R III Fujifilm X-T3 Fujifilm XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS Samyang 12mm F2.0 NCS CS Fujifilm 16-55mm F2.8R LM WR +6 more
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads