Quick Release Plate Camera Tripod 1.5×2″ Mount For Manfrotto 200PL-14 484RC2 (and modification for the Sony RX100M2) (WHL #65)
A ripoff product and some modifications to it this time.
In January I bought a used tripod set consisting of a Manfrotto 190 XPROB, a massively oversized 327 RC2 Joystick and a 200PL quick release plate (100 bucks plus delivery). While all of these are well made to a degree that I would totally buy them again, I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the quick release plate in combination with my Sony RX100M2 camera. Not sure if there are standards for camera mounts alignment and envelopes (so: “who to blame”), but the Sony does not align the UNC 20 1/4″ mounting thread with the optical axis, it touches the mounting plane with the focusing ring and even undercuts it with when swivelling the display. So in order to fully use the camera, it can not be mounted to the quick release plate, which is a problem. Maybe there are tiny spacers for it that that would fix this, but I decided to try another way.
You see, the original 200PL plate(s) are around 20€ plus shipping and while I already have one, I’d like to save it for a possible future camera upgrade that I wouldn’t trust mating to a cheap ripoff plate. On the other hand, the RX100M2 is not even 300g, so basically even a paper version would be able to secure it in place. So I ordered one on AliExpress in early March (3.37€ including shipping) and it arrived this week.
I didn’t realize at the time that these fuckers use a mix of photos from something looking genuine and their own fake product, have a look at the pictures of the product description:
Some of these have a finely textured pad, one even uses a retaining ring that holds the screw with the meaty grip ring in place. There are a couple of versions of this and I chose the one with the biggest ring as this is the tool used for fastening the plate onto the camera in the field. For lack of proper pre-modification photos, here’s the thing (right) in comparison to the original Manfrotto part on the left:
Well yeah, it’s a bit wimpy, props for the exact copy of the main body, though. Probably “you get what you pay for”. Problem is: It doesn’t even work. The ring is removed for a reason, and that is the thickness of the screw body. The screw head is so short that once the ring is in (which it should be), it doesn’t sit flush. When it doesn’t sit flush, it doesn’t fit the mount as that one has no recess for it. And when it doesn’t fit the mount, it’s not a quick mount plate, it’s not even a mount plate.
(both photos from the AE dispute – can’t use a proper camera when it needs to be mounted to the item in question…)
It’s not even sitting properly without a camera mounted to it, it’s an utter fuckup of shaving off fractions of a penny in production without testing feasibility beforehand. The screwdriver slit in the middle is nice, but I don’t always have one handy…it does fit 5 cent coins, though.
I bet there are replacement screws to fix this altogether, but I haven’t checked yet. The point in buying this replica was the chance to modify it without wasting 20 bucks if the plan fails. So here’s the modded unit, with a stylish Edding paint marker coating (surface structure is from the paint, the modified surfaces were filed down evenly after the majority of material was trimmed away with a metal cutting disc)
Once outside temperatures are a bit above the current 4°C, I might strip and repaint the thing properly. For now, that’ll do.
Can’t really say much about the bulk material, it’s shiny metal but machining it with the Dremel doesn’t feel like it’s aluminium. It’s also likely no Magnesium either as the very powdery filings barely catch on fire, in sharp contrast to those outdoors fire starters. Doesn’t spark when being machined. Probably some casting alloy of those two metals, it is pretty lightweight after all.
The front part of the pad is cut to accommodate the lens focus ring, as that is exactly level with the bottom of the case. The fake unit has a slightly sturdier pad compared to the Manfrotto unit, so screwed down the focus ring is movable, but still scrapes the pad. I don’t like it, so it was cut out and the ring runs freely now.
The back part of the pad is recessed entirely to make room for the display, and so is the alloy part underneath. The display can now be moved out – it needs to be unfolded once moved a little, so the base is not perfectly out of the way, but it still needs some material there for a secure fit in the tripod mount.
The way it currently is will work just fine, I guess, but can still be improved if found to be annoying in the long run. Preferably before painting it properly The original paint (or surface treatment?) by the way has a really strange smell when machined away, a very heavy, oily, industrial type of smell unlike all other paints I have come across. Probably gave me cancer right away, well, what can you do.
For now this will do fine, I will check for a replacement UNC screw that will allow for easy removal in the field without tools or money. Other than that, the modification worked as imagined, it still sits firmly in the tripod mount but all camera functions are accessible now without plate removal. For three bucks (likely less after dispute) plus a bit of effort, that’s a winner.