I have long wanted a universal L-bracket/plate and finally made my choice.
If you are like me, you quickly get frustrated by not having an L-bracket on whatever camera is being used. Custom L-brackets are mounted on nearly all of my owned cameras and with so many lens formats to review, the studio's camera count is rather high. Still, many camera models flowing through the studio are not keepers and I cannot justify the cost of a custom bracket for each of them. An additional issue is that custom L-brackets are not yet available for some of the new cameras I use.
I have a few little Wimberley P5 Universal Camera Body Plates that work great on practically all of the cameras I've tested, but I still greatly miss the functionality of L-brackets when using these.
After a considerable research effort, I determined that the ProMediaGear PLX3x Universal L-Bracket was the best choice for me and with my agreement to tell you about it, PMG provided a no-cost evaluation sample.
I will not reiterate the advantages of L-brackets here, but the initial premise for a "universal" L-bracket is that it will fit on a wide range of cameras.
Cameras come in vastly differing sizes, so significant flexibility is required from a universal bracket. The basics requirement is that the bracket will mount to the camera's tripod socket while clearing the left side of the camera. Some universal L-brackets provide a series of mounting slots that allow best one to be chosen while the left side of the bracket simply extends to the side of the camera as the dimensions fall.
A very positive aspect of the PMG bracket is that two mounting slots are provided (with front-to-back adjustment flexibility) with at least one providing full access to the battery door on most cameras (a very nice feature) and the left side of the bracket, if not naturally clearing the camera body, can be adjusted outward as desired, up to 1.56" (39.6mm).
One advantage of custom brackets is that they can be designed to allow access to the ports on the left side of the camera. Universal bracket designers must account for a variety of port designs including some that do not yet exist (future camera models). Being able to adjust the PMG bracket's left side provides great flexibility without unnecessary bulk, allowing wires to be cleared when necessary and allowing the bracket to be made compact when the ports are not in use.
Some (or even all) ports may be accessible in the PLX3x bracket cutout, negating the need to extend the bracket for clearance. The fore and aft adjustment of the bracket on the camera can be used to slightly adjust for port access. Don't worry about stability — the rails that bracket rides on are solid and lock very tightly. Also convenient is that the L portion of the bracket can be removed if it is not needed for a shoot, leaving just the PBX3 base plate.
Another advantage of a custom bracket is that it is usually machined to precisely fit to the designed-for camera body, wrapping around the camera base to prevent plate twisting. Universal brackets typically use a rubberized grip surface and two strips of this surface are provided on the ProMediaGear PLX3x. Note that mounting the bracket too far to the front or back may cause one of these strips to not meet the bottom of the camera. While I don't see a reason that the bracket cannot be used this way (such as for a very narrow camera body with a particular clearance issue), there will be a slight tilt in the angle the bracket provides if both rubber pads are not against the camera.
While on the clearance issue topic, L-plates generally limit Canon vari-angle LCD range of motion and the PLX3x shares that trait. However, solving that problem is the ProMediaGear PLX3T Universal L-Bracket. This bracket shifts the left side plate forward, clearing space for the rotating LCD.
The build quality of the USA precision CNC machined anodized T6061 aluminum alloy ProMediaGear PLX3x is quite impressive. Of course, we have come to expect that from PMG.
Weight: 4.32 oz (122g)
Dimensions: 3.5 x 1.5 x 4.0" (8.9 x 3.8 x 10.2 cm)
Made obvious by the design is that this bracket was built for solidness vs. light weight. That said, you are not likely going to notice the ounce and a half (40g) weight difference between this model and some lighter universal L-plate options. What you may notice is the difference in rigidity.
This bracket is solid enough and has enough threaded inserts to serve as a small camera cage for video needs. The ProMediaGear CS2 Cold Shoe and Cable Port Protector are notably useful accessories for this bracket.
The PMG bracket's overall design is smart with attention to details throughout. A quick release cup is located on the bottom of the bracket, ideal for attaching a neck strap. A pair of safety stop screws are provided for both sides of the bracket. With a bracket that will likely be moved from camera to camera or will likely be adjusted for cable access, it is convenient to have the wrench readily accessible. The included hex key (Allen) wrench stores in a slot with a magnet holding it in place. This wrench is hard to lose and always available.
While the ProMediaGear universal L-brackets are not the least expensive models available, they are considerably less expensive than many custom L-brackets.
If you are like me, when you get a new camera, you get a custom L-bracket to go with it. The trouble is that sometimes the L-brackets are not available when new camera models first become available. Also, I'm not always keeping the camera long term and it becomes hard to justify the expense of a custom L-bracket in that case. These are situations where a universal L-bracket makes sense.
What is the best universal L-bracket? After research, I opted for the ProMediaGear PLX3x L-Bracket/Plate, a universal 3" Arca-Swiss type L-plate designed for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras without a grip.
Got a grip? ProMediaGear has you covered with the ProMediaGear PLX4x L-Bracket, sporting a 4" L-bracket.
If your camera has an articulating LCD that moves to the side of the camera (such as Canon's vari-angle models), the PLX3T Universal L-Bracket for cameras with articulating LCD screens might be the best option. I'm thinking that I could use one of these next.
While the PLX3x is not a complicated accessory, it shows very logical design (I called it smart) and it is very solidly built. Great versatility from a simple, solid design is just what I needed. I mounted the ProMediaGear PLX3x to my Canon EOS R and ... haven't removed it since and haven't felt the need to buy a custom EOS R bracket.
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