One thing that really bugs me when shooting is having to change mounting plates on my cameras to make them work with my tripods, sliders, jibs etc. In the past I’ve used Miller Tripods QR system which allows you to use the same tripod plate from the Solo DV20 head on other bits of kit. Then when I started using DSLR’s I became a fan of the Manfrotto 394 quick release plates and fitted them to everything that I could.
When I started shooting on the C300 and C100 I wanted to use something more heavy duty than the Manfrotto system so reverted to the Miller QR plates for a while. The Miller system works well but it has a few drawbacks such as having to slide the plate into the mount from the back which isn’t always possible. The Miller QR plates are also not flat on the bottom so they can’t be mounted to everything.
I eventually decided to try out the Kessler Quick Release system and after using it for a few months I absolutely love it. The Kessler system allows you to attach the camera from above and once the bright red release latch engages you know the camera isn’t going to fall off, then there’s also a cam operated locking lever that fully secures the camera in place.
Kessler provide various plate sizes depending on the usage you have in mind, I have them fitted to my cameras, the bottom of my Stealth slider, and one on the base of my pocket jib traveller. I fitted the receiver plates to my tripods and one to my mini ball head so that I can swap my cameras between any tripod, the slider or the jib without swapping plates. I can also mount my slider or the jib to any of my tripods so whatever configuration I opt for it works without any messing around swapping plates.
One thing that I wasn’t so keen on though was the fact that I had to mount the Kessler receiver plate on top of a Miller tripod plate to then fit that into my Miller Solo DS20 tripod. Setting up that way works okay but it’s one more thing that can work loose and also adds a little more bulk and likely more flexing when the camera is mounted. A much better solution would be to mount the Kessler receiver plate directly to the tripod head.
The Miller receiver can be easily removed from the DV20 head by removing the four bolts that hold it in place. As you can see though this doesn’t offer any way to then mount the Kessler Kwik Release so an adapter plate is going to be needed.
If you’re good at working with metal it would be a fairly easy process to create a rectangle plate that has the four required holes to bolt it to the head and at least one threaded hole int he centre to allow the Kessler plate to be mooted to that. I don’t have the required tools to do such a job myself but I discovered a work around using the Miller 313 QR system.
If you look at one of Millers 313 Quick Release plates you’ll notice that it’s basically identical to the one fitted to the solo DV head, but in order to make it fit on other devices Miller have attached a metal plate that has four threaded holes in the corners to allow the plate to be bolted to it and a pair of threaded holes in the middle. This plate is perfect for creating an adapter for the tripod.
Unfortunately there are some modifications that you need to make though. The four holes in the corners of the adapter plate are threaded and don’t have the countersunk recesses required so that the heads of the bolts sit flush inside the plate. I modified mine by drilling out enough metal to allow the bolt heads to sit flush. Be careful with this though, if you go all the way through it won’t work. The holes near the recess on one end of the plate do cut through the side slightly but not enough to cause any problems with strength.
You’ll also need to use a smaller drill bit to remove the threads from the remaining part of the small holes in the corners so that the bolts can be inserted and then tightened in to the threads in the tripod head. Please note that these modifications render the plate unusable with the 313 QR plate any further.
No modifications are required to the tripod head itself though, please don’t make the mistake of doing anything to your tripod head!
Whether you make a plate or take one from a Miller QR system once it’s in place you just have to bolt the Kessler Kwik Release to it. For maximum strength and durability it would be best to have an additional threaded hole cut into the plate so that the Kessler Kwik Release can be attached at two points. For now I’ve stuck with just the one and mine has been rock solid but I’d still like to have another thread cut in at some point.
So there you have it, the Miller tripod looks like it was created with the Kessler system and it’s super solid and more compact than the original Miller plate. A Miller 313 plate is around $190 so it’s probably not worth buying one just to do this, plus it’s a non reversible modification for the 313.
If you do have a spare Miller 313 plate though or you can have a plate made up it works really well. With Kessler receiver plates on all of my kit mounting cameras to supports or even supports to supports is always easy and reliable.
The Kessler Kwick Release systems can be found at Kesslers website
The Miller 313 QR plate is available from B&H Photo
The Miller DS20 Tripod is available from B&H Photo