Points in Focus Photography

Really Right Stuff MTX Tool Review

0

Okay, so lets be honest here. Really Right Stuff’s MTX tool is a mini-screwdriver set, and a rather expensive one at that. I would go so far as to say it would be insulting to try and sell it on the premise of build quality of some unique feature set.

It’s not a lens; there’s no complex optical design or precision micron-scale manufacturing that has to be done to make it. It’s not a camera; there’s no big expensive bespoke chunk of silicon wrapped in complex precision mechanical systems.

It’s a screwdriver set. And honestly, at $50 its kind of a pricey one even compared to other jewelers/precision screwdriver sets — at least at first glance. In practice, and certainly after starting to look at things while writing this up, I’m not so sure that the MTX tool is priced all that poorly for what it is.

Bits

Bits are the point of a screwdriver, so lets start there. The MTX tool comes with 22 interchangeable bits, and a compact Allen key. The included bits are listed in the table below.

Hex Flat JIS/Cross Point Torx
0.05 inch 0 00 T10
1/16 inch 00 0 T15
5/64 inch 1 T20
3/32 inch T25
7/64 inch
1/8 inch
9/64 inch
5/32 inch
3/16 inch
7/32 inch
2 mm
2.5 mm
3 mm

The bulk of the bits are obviously hex head. While the sizes were obviously picked to support all of the various sizes Really Right Stuff has used over the years, they are all standard sizes and they have a lot of other applications outside of RRS gear.

The cross-point bits also warrant special mention. They’re not cut to the standard Phillips patter as used in the US. They’re cut to the Japanese Industry Standard for cross point screws. Given that the vast majority of consumer and pro camera gear is either designed or manufacturers in Japan and uses the JIS standards, this makes a lot of sense.

More importantly, while the JIS and Phillips standards are basically compatible, there are subtle differences. In practice, a Phillips bit may cam out of and potentially damage the head of JIS screws, while the inverse is much less likely to happen. The bottom line on this, the JIS bits will drive Phillips head screws just fine, and they’re less likely to damage the JIS standard screws used in most cameras and lenses.

MTX Tool and Bits
The MTX Tool with all 22 included bits and the hex key. Not show is the spare bit holder for the extra bits that don’t fit in the handle.

The bit selection is also what makes this hard to compare with other off the shelf mini-screwdriver kits. I scoured Amazon.com(Affiliate Link) looking for somewhat comparable drivers and there really aren’t any. Most of the precision screwdriver kits include pentalobe, tri-wing, and other security bits, but none of the hex bits. In general with regular precision screwdriver kits, you’d need to buy several to cover all of the bits that the MTX has, and then you’re spending as much or more on separate, often incompatible, drivers.

Beyond the selection of bits, Really Right Stuff has used 3/16 inch shanks, which cuts down the overall size of the bit as well. In turn, this allows up to 12 bits to bet stored in the handle. Though the default configuration is 10 bits and a shorty 3/16 inch hex key. The extra bits ship in a plastic holder and a small screw-lidded container.

I’ve reorganized my handle to most optimally suit my needs using the following bits.

Position Bits
Lower #1 x-point, #0 x-point, 5/32 hex, T25 Torx, #0 Flat, #2 Flat
Upper 7/64 hex, 3.0 mm hex, 1/8 hex, #00 x-point, 7/32 hex, 2.5mm hex

The hex sizes cover all of my hex screws for my Really Right Stuff lens places, the hex set-screws on my Gitzo tripod and Oben monopod. The Torx bit covers the top-plate release on my Gitzo tripod. And the flat and cross-point bits pretty much cover all the rest of the screws I might come across.

Of course, you can get all of this functionality cheaper. The appropriate sized hex keys come almost all camera hardware that requires them. The same can be said about the Torx keys needed for my Gitzo tripod — and it’s worth pointing out that on the newer Gitzo tripods, you no longer need a Torx key to remove the center plate, they’ve replaced that with tool-less lever.

Added Functionality

Beyond just being a screw driver, the MTX tool is designed to used as an extension to Really Right Stuff’s Table Top Tripod — or as a handle.

The MTX took is a bit deceptive in looks. Unlike most screw driver sets, the rear cap isn’t simply screws into the plastic handle. Instead the rear cap screws into the front metal insert. This carries any load put on the MTX tool from the front to the rear without passing thought the plastic handle.

That’s not to say the plastic is weak. It’s actually quite beefy for what you’d expect. But I personally wouldn’t have any problem carrying several pounds of camera and less using the MTX tool as a handle.

Conclusions

The real benefit of the MTX tool for me though is size. I’m always complaining about extra crap I have to have in my bag, and I always carry tools in the event I need to address or fix something in the field. Before getting the MTX tool, this meant another small pouch of hex keys and a little screw driver, in addition to a multi-tool I also carry.

The MTX has allowed me to down size that pouch of separate tools into just the MTX. And all told this and a multi-tool takes up less space in my bag than the punch of hex keys did. Moreover, I find I’m less likely to accidentally set something down and lose it in the field or in a hotel room.

That said, I do have two complaints with the MTX tool, and both are somewhat minor. The first is the bit holder in either the handle or the extra case, can be a bit weak at holding bits. The retention mechanism is only friction, and the plastic arms can bend away from the bit leaving them to slide around. Of course, all the bits are still retained in the handle if they fall out of the holder so it’s not like it’s a complete disaster waiting to happen.

The second complain is the lack of an extended shaft for getting into hard to reach places. One example of this is the set screws to retain the head on my tripod. The handle is just fat enough that there isn’t enough room to easily turn it with the bit in the set screw. If there was a 3 or 4 inch extension to the shaft, there would be more than enough length and play to get the handle out away from the center column.

Moreover, I use my MTX tool for all kinds of other precision screwdriver work — like working in computers. In many cases I have to grab another screw driver that has a longer reach to get in between cards or other tall parts to work.

That said, it’s up to you to decided if this is a tool you could find useful. Personally, as expensive as it was, I keep finding uses for it to the point that I always keep it handy, and that’s good enough for me.

MTX Product Page

Comments

Steve

I guess it’s a nice tool, but one really annoying thing is the little magnet at the base of the “magnetic driver” comes out with the bit. It popped off the back of the bit and I lost it for a few minutes. Without this little cylindrical magnet, I have to hold the bits in with my fingers when I’m using the tool. I think I’ll just keep the hex keys with me instead…

    Jason Franke  | admin

    Hi Steve,

    That’s not normal. The magnet in the base of the tool socket shouldn’t fall out. Mine certainly hasn’t.

    Really Right Stuff’s warranty is 5 years, you should really contact them about getting it fixed or replaced. Even if you’re out of warranty, I would still contact them.

Leave a Reply

Basic Rules:
  • All comments are moderated.
  • Abusive, inflamatory, and/or "troll" posts will not be published.
  • Extremely long comments (>1000 words) may be blocked by the spam filters automatically.
  • If your comment doesn't show up, it may have been eaten by the spam filters; sorry about that.
  • See the Terms of Use/Privacy Policy for more details.


Follow me on twitter for updates on when new comments and articles are posted.

Email Notice Details: By checking the above checkbox, you are agreeing to recieve one email at the email address provided with this comment, for the sole purpose of notifing you that the article author has been reseponded to your comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Our cookie and privacy policy. Dismiss