I came across this interesting ballhead accessory when I was writing a guide about L plates for Shutter Muse. Typically an L plate for a camera is a big bulky thing that wraps around the end of a camera to allow you to switch between portrait and landscape orientation very quickly. One of the disadvantages of the traditional design is that the plates can be quite heavy, so I was intrigued when I found the iQuick plate solutions that are being manufactured by UniqBall.
At first glance these iQuick plates appear to be pretty typical universal Arca-Swiss plates for use on a camera or a lens foot, but a closer look at the end of the plate reveals a trick up their sleeve. The end of the iQuick plate actually has a perpendicular clamping area, to create what amounts to a tiny, low profile L plate!
The iQuick plate is available in two thicknesses, and UniqBall sent me the the “thin” version of the plate to take a closer look ($89). It’s incredibly lightweight, and if you are really counting every ounce in your camera bag then there’s some significant weight savings to be had over a standard L plate. One thing I will say, is that there is a lot of flex in this “Thin” version of the iQuick Plate when used with a big DSLR. It doesn’t droop over long exposures, but after touching the camera you do need to take your hands off it and let the vibrations/movement settle back to an equilibrium before you take the shot.
My recommendation would be to limit the choice of the thin plate to small pocket cameras and mirrorless cameras, and use the regular thickness plate ($130) for DSLRs. Even then, you’ll definitely want to use a cable release or wireless remote with your camera when working in portrait orientation on your tripod. In that vertical orientation, the flange height just isn’t enough to get a solid flex-free grip on it as you can with a standard L plate, but the weight and bulk savings are so significant that I think a lot of people will still find a benefit for this product.
Personally, it would not replace my standard L plates, but it’s a nice lightweight option to have to hand when I want to go on a long hike with a very minimal kit. There’s even a version with a built-in bubble level which is pretty neat!