Points in Focus Photography

Really Right Stuff Off Camera Flash Quick Release Adapters (FA-QR) Review

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I first found these while reading the 2011 Really Right Stuff catalog, and immediately they struck me as something that really made sense. The parts reviewed here, the FA-QR-B base and FA-QR1 adapter, are part of Really Right Stuff’s larger flash mounting system. The system includes

Two Parts: The Plate and Clamp

The 3 parts included in teh FA-QR set, base, plate and camera cord attachment screw (not shown allen key for tightening the screw).

The FA-QR package consists of two parts, the FA-QR-B base and FA-QR1 plate. Both of these can be had separately, the plates run $15 the bases $39, or together for $49 in the FA-QR set.

One of the advantages of the Flash QR system is that Really Right Stuff has endeavored to make the clamps and plates small enough to not get in the way, but still secure enough to hold a flash and keep everything in alignment.

Together the FA-QR1 and FA-QR-B measure only 1.3” x 0.8” x 1” over the locking tab. The FA-QR-B clamp on its own measures 1.3” x 0.56” x 1” over the thumb tab, and the FA-QR1 plate measures 1.3” x 0.41” x 0.75”.

The FA-QR set with ruler to give a sense of scale.

The system uses a triangularly tapered dovetailed to securely align and lock the plate to the clamp. As a result, the plates and clamps can only be attached one way making them directional.

The thumb release is tapered in such a way that plates can be slid into the clap without holding the lock down. Releasing the plate is a matter of holding down the release lever and sliding the plate back out of the clamp.

A word of caution though, make sure the plate is fully clamped before letting go. While the system is well designed, sometimes the locking lever can snag on the bolt in the plate, making it feel like the plate is clamped when it’s not.

There is a small amount of play in the clamp but it’s not enough visibly change the alignment of the pieces, let alone affect your flash alignment or the security of the mount itself.

Like almost everything from Really Right Stuff, everything is made from black anodized machined aluminum, including the thumb tab for the locking mechanism. Moreover, the locking mechanism is hinged and spring, so it doesn’t rely on something bending which can easily wear out and loosen. The overall build quality, even the quality of the lettering is, is top notch.

Mounting

A Canon OC-E3 off camera shoe cord mounted on the Really Right Stuff FA-QR quick release adapter. Note the silver washer required when mounted on the Manfrotto 3/8-16 to 1/4-20 reducer to allow the lock to release.

The system is designed to have an off camera shoe cord mounted to the plate, and the plate is “notched” or profiled to support securely holding that in place. The off camera cord is secured with a hex-head 1/4-20 screw that recesses into the plate to keep the profile as small as possible. The mounting screw is 0.5” overall, with 0.2” exposed to thread into the base of the off camera cord.

Test mounting a Canon OC-E3 off camera cord, to the plate was very solid and well aligned. The plastic foot on the cord fits snugly in the notch in the plate. Further the mounting screw aligns everything and none of the off camera cord’s shoe protrudes over the edges.

The base has a 1/4-20 threaded mount as well, though this time there’s a caveat. The mounting hole is drilled clear though the bottom of the clamp directly below the locking mechanism. As a result, if the mounting bolt is too long it will stop the lock from being able to completely open. I’ve found this to be the case when mounting to the stud that comes with a Manfrotto umbrella bracket, but not the studs from the cheaper plastic ones. Using a washer as a spacer will fix the problem.

In Use

I can’t really speak to how well the QR system works when paired with Really Right Stuff’s flash brackets, since I don’t use them. My interest in the QR system is for simplifying mounting Flex TT5 PocketWizards and strobes on light stands quickly and securely. I’ve already dropped one of my flashes and PocketWizards a couple of times trying to quickly get it secured to the stand without removing the stud. The RRS QR system seemed like the perfect solution, and it almost is.

In my intended use is to have the clamps always mounted to my umbrella brackets, and the plates to the bottom of my Flex TT5s.

As of April 2011, I’ve been using the FA-QR adapters on my FlexTT5 Pocket Wizards and light stands regularly for some months now. Setup and tear down are so much easier and continent that I really couldn’t imagine not using the QR adapters. Moreover, I’m much more comfortable when I’m tearing down a setup that I won’t drop a flash or Pocket Wizard, for me that alone is a pretty big win. It’s also reliatvely simple to mount or remove the PocketWizard/flash package to a stand one handed.

Complaints

Ultimately, I have two complaints with the FA-QR system as a whole. Though they really only arise as an artifact of my intended use and not so much as a defect of the system.

First, there is no dedicated “PocketWizard Flex TT5” plate, or a basic flat plate for that matter. The FA-QR1’s grooves make it impossible to fit it flush with the bottom of the pocket wizard and the bolt is almost too short to use that way anyway. The same can be said about the FA-QR29—the plate intended to be paired with the Nikon SC-29 cord.

My solution, was to break out the angle grinder and cut away the material that was in the way.

Secondly the plate intrudes into the hotshoe area on the Flex TT5. The intent, or at least hope, was that I could keep the FA-QR1 plate on the PocketWizard even if I had to mount it on a camera. That proved to me a mixed proposition. On the first plate I cut down, I removed a little more than 1mm from the side that faced the hotshoe, it served well enough to clear the hotshoe on an OC-E3 cord, and even worked when mounted to a Canon 40D. However, the actual dove-tail part that locks into the base, hit the viewfinder housing on a 1D Mark 3 preventing the TT5 from being attached to the camera.

While making it easier to setup and tear down PocketWizard installations likely isn’t the first thought that ran though Really Right Stuff’s mind; it was the first thing that ran though mine. Personally, I’d really like to see RRS come out with a plate fitted to the PocketWizard FlexTT5 specifically that insured alignment and didn’t interfere with allowed the FlexTT5 being mounted to a camera’s hot shoe. Even better would be if it moved the mounting position in front of the bottom hot shoe, so the flash was centered over the stand.

The second thing that would be nice, would be a base clamp that had a 5/8″ stud machined in place instead of having to mount it to one. That would allow a more solid mount on a flash bracket than having to worry about the base loosening n the stud.

Conclusions

Even though, I’m only starting to use the FA-QR system, I’m already finding the system gives me a small but noticeable amount of comfort and speed in setting up or tearing my off camera flash setups. The biggest advantage for me is that the plates can stay on my PocketWizards even when I’m storing them, something that I can’t do when using the 5/8ths studs.

Though not flawless, at least for me, the system does make life a bit easier for setup and tear down of off camera flash setups.

That said, if you’re looking to use the FA-QR parts with PocketWizard FlexTT5 components and flash brackets, I’d strongly urge you to express that to Really Right Stuff. The system is nice and with a lot of promise outside of just Really Right Stuff’s flash brackets, but having to cut down parts to make them fit properly on FlexTT5s is less than desirable.

Pros:

  • Quick secure mounting of flashes (or really anything with a 1/4-20 threaded mount) to light stands or umbrella brackets (or anything that has a 1/4-20 screw)
  • Positively maintains device alignment (as long as the base doesn’t loosen)
  • Compatible with all of Really Right Stuff’s Flash brackets
  • Custom plates for various flashes and off camera cables

Cons:

  • Some what expensive for what it appears to be
  • No good solution for FlexTT5 PocketWizards that doesn’t involve cutting or grinding yet
  • Sometimes a bit tricky to get to lock together without looking
  • Your thumb can get in the way of the plate when holding down the release lever

 


  1. Really Right Stuff Off Camera Flash Quick Release Adapters

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