Photo by sukanya sitthikongsak via iStock
There's no doubt about it - there are a ton of photography accessories you can buy that help you develop a better workflow.
And while some accessories like filters and tripods and remote shutter releases get all the glory, there's a lesser-known piece of gear that you should strongly consider adding to your kit.
That gear is an L-bracket.
Benefits of L-Brackets
For the uninitiated, as its name indicates, an L-bracket is an L-shaped piece of metal. You attach it to your camera body to replace a traditional quick-release tripod plate.
The reason why this type of bracket is advantageous is because you can quickly and easily switch between a portrait-oriented shot and a landscape-oriented shot.
What's more, you can do so without disturbing the composition of the shot.
That is, when you're shooting without an L-bracket and you switch from landscape to portrait orientation, you have to move the tripod because the camera is now positioned a few centimeters to the left of where it was previously. That means that the composition of the portrait shot will now be different from what you've done in your landscape-oriented shots.
But with an L-bracket attached, you don't have to worry about that because it maintains the exact same positioning as before.
Not only is that a benefit from a compositional standpoint, but you also save a ton of time because you don't have to continually mess around with repositioning your tripod.
Photo by FilippoBacci via iStock
Additionally, using an L-bracket means you might explore different types of compositions.
That is, with it being so easy to switch from landscape to portrait orientation, you can experiment with compositions that work for each or work for both, for that matter.
One of the best ways to stand out in the crowd of landscape photographers is to experiment and find unique ways to portray the scene. An L-bracket can help you do just that.
Photo by MundusImages via iStock
On top of that, L-brackets (the good ones, anyway), help stabilize your camera, which means sharper photos. After all, the more secure your camera is, the lest camera shake there will be.
L-brackets also prevent rotation of your camera on the tripod plate. This is especially true when shooting in portrait orientation with a big, heavy lens.
Where a standard tripod plate might not be able to withstand bearing the weight of a big rig, and therefore allow the camera to rotate, an L-bracket keeps your camera and lens precisely where you want it.
What are the Best L-Brackets for Photography?
There are plenty of L-brackets on the market today. The question is, which ones are the best?
Below, I've listed five L-brackets that I've tested over the years and found to be reliable, durable, and easy to use.
Though they all have their own features and specifications, they have one thing in common: these brands have a proven track record of quality.
Here's my picks for the Best L-brackets of 2019...
I tested the ProMediaGear L-bracket for the Nikon D850, and to say that I was impressed is an understatement.
I use a ProMediaGear tripod, so I was already familiar with the impeccable design and build-quality of their products before I gave their L-bracket a test-drive.
Their L-brackets are Arca-type compatible on the vertical and horizontal axes, and this modular design allows for fast and accurate switching from horizontal to vertical orientations.
The bracket is designed not to interfere with a tilting screen while also allowing for access to the battery door on your camera.
Something that was particularly impressive to me is that an Allen key is magnetically stored at the top of the vertical plate. This is handy because ProMediaGear incorporated Allen screws that allow you to loosen both parts of the bracket. This is advantageous because it affords you more room to access your camera's remote ports and USB.
Additionally, the anodized, CNC-machined aluminum ensures you have something that's strong and durable, and with safety stops on both plates, you can rest assured that your camera won't slide out of the clamp if it is opened.
ProMediaGear has even added an integrated camera strap adapter port on the bottom plate so you can quickly attach and detach your strap.
In other words, if you're looking for a feature-rich, smartly-designed L-bracket, this one is certainly worth a look!
Fusion Photo Gear
The Fusion Photo Gear FPG-1005 came on my radar recently, and I have to say that in field testing, it has been nothing but impressive.
A multi-camera fit L-bracket that works with many Canon, Nikon, and Sony cameras, this rig features an exclusive patent-pending Tilting Bracket that allows it to unlock and tilt away from the camera, giving you unfettered access to the ports on the side of the camera. That's just not something you see on other L-brackets.
But that's not the only innovative feature on this thing...
The bracket has a deployable attachment loop, which flips out to provide an attachment point for a number of camera straps, including those made by Holdfast and Black Rapid.
Since I use a Holdfast MoneyMaker Solo sling strap, that is a particularly nice feature.
But this isn't just a gimmick Fusion Photo Gear has added to the bracket. Instead, Fusion Photo Gear subjected the Fusion Plate to a battery of tests to ensure it is rock-solid.
In fact, Fusion Photo Gear built a testing machine that cycled the loop back and forth from its open and its closed position, and after 100,000 cycles, there was no damage or deformation.
Furthermore, the hinge pin is rated to a sheer force of 1,100 pounds, so you can rest assured that your gear is secure.
In another test, an independent lab dropped a weight from the Fusion Plate 10,000 times. Remarkably, the plate sustained no damage or deformation. In fact, the test was supposed to continue to destruction, but it was ended after 10,000 cycles because no signs of damage were detected.
Additionally, anti-twist pads on this bracket conform to the bottom of the camera and keep it in place to prevent twisting during operation. Working alongside the anti-twist pads is an anti-rotation arm that adjusts to fit against the front of the camera to prevent rotation.
Fusion Photo Gear has also constructed this L-bracket with an interlocking mortise and tenon system that rigidly locks the tilting L-bracket in the upright position. With a simple twist of the tilt-lock screw using the on board hex key the tilting bracket is locked in place.
In other words, this is a rock-solid L-bracket that will keep your camera right where you want it!
Not only is this bracket compatible with Arca-Swiss style quick release systems, but it also has a hand strap attachment lug, a 5/32" hex wrench stored right on the bracket, stop screws in both orientations to prevent the bracket from sliding off, and 1/4"-20 accessory screw holes in both orientations for adding needed accessories.
The black anodized finish looks great, and the aircraft-grade aluminum construction means this bracket is both strong and lightweight.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a better L-bracket out there with this many features, functionality, and is this affordable!
Kirk Enterprise Solutions
I field-tested the Kirk L-bracket for my Nikon D850 a couple of months ago, and came away impressed with its overall functionality.
Made of 6061-T6 aluminum, this L-bracket is super lightweight, but also very strong. You'll have no qualms about putting it through the paces even in the toughest of shooting conditions.
The one-piece design has anti-twist flanges to prevent the camera from moving in the bracket.
It's got an Arca-type compatible dovetail, a slotted design for easy access to side ports, and easy access to the battery door as well.
This Kirk L-bracket also does not block the movement of tilting LCDs and comes with a hand strap loop machined on the right side.
There's a built-in hex wrench storage area so you can make quick adjustments, and there's handy sensor centering lines on the back so you can easily align your camera with the tripod head.
Kirk also provides a five-year warranty on their L-brackets, so you have all kinds of peace of mind that your investment will be protected for years to come.
Really Right Stuff
If you've used a Really Right Stuff tripod before, you know the kind of quality and attention to detail you get with their products.
Their line of L-brackets is no exception...
I tested their BA6300-L rig with my Sony a6300 and found it to be easy to use and highly stable for my camera system.
Like the ProMediaGear L-bracket I discussed earlier, this little guy has a modular two-piece design that not only makes it easy to use but also provides you full access to the battery door.
The 6061-T6 aluminum construction is strong, yet light, and looks like a million bucks with the Type II black anodizing.
There's a 1/4"-20 threaded mounting socket on the base, and the plate is easily repositioned to gain easier access to the side ports on your camera.
With laser-engraved center marks on both the horizontal and vertical axes, you can easily acquire and maintain alignment in your photos as well.
3 Legged Thing
If you're looking to invest in an L-bracket without spending a ton of money, a good option is the universal L-bracket from 3 Legged Thing.
Typically, I wouldn't recommend anything that's "universal," but in this case, 3 Legged Thing has developed something that's hard-working and reliable without a huge price tag.
I used this bracket with my Sony a6300, and even though access to the cable and battery doors was impeded, it still provided the quick-change functionality you want when switching from vertical to horizontal photo-taking.
The bracket comes with a 100mm base and a 1/4"-20 accessory mount for attaching magic arms, microphones, lights, and so forth. It's compatible with Arca Swiss clamps and heads as well.
With strap connectors on both the horizontal and vertical elements, you don't have to take off your strap when using this bracket, either.
On top of that, you can easily disassemble the bracket and store them in two flat sections, that way it takes up less room in your camera bag.
What's not to like about that?!
Another universal-mount L-bracket you might consider is the Manfrotto Q2.
Like the other L-brackets on this list, the Q2 allows you to make quick, yet precise changes to the camera's position without changing the composition.
Made of magnesium alloy, this L-bracket is lightweight and strong, and won't take up a ton of room in your camera bag.
The anti-rotational system with the Q2 prevents the camera from moving inside the bracket, even if you're shooting with a big kit like a Nikon D850 with a large lens.
The bracket has dual 200PL-14-type quick release plates for easy removal, and you're sure to appreciate the thin design and small form factor that won't get in your way.
And since it's a universal fit, this bracket can adapt to various types of camera bodies without sacrificing precision or ergonomics.
I just got my hands on the Stabil LNZ, and I have to say that I'm really impressed with it thus far.
As a budget L-bracket, you wouldn't think it would be so feature-rich, and yet it is!
Specifically designed for use with the Nikon Z6 and Z7, the LNZ is precision machined from solid blocks of 6061-T6 aluminum. That means this thing is durable, stable, and lightweight all at the same time.
This L-bracket has precisely contoured anti-twist flanges to ensure there is no movement between the camera and the L-bracket.
There's a soft material that lines the bracket to prevent scratching your camera, and the design of the vertical arm gives you complete access to the camera's ports.
The LNZ allows you to mount your camera on either the vertical or horizontal axis thanks to its Arca-type compatible dovetail.
It also comes in two colors - black and anodized green - both of which look like a million bucks!
Camera Protection With an L-Bracket
Photo by xalanx via iStock
A common theme you see in each of the L-brackets I've outlined above is that they offer improved protection for your camera.
By having something on the bottom of the camera, you prevent damage to the camera body itself when you set it down.
If you're like me, you often set your gear down on the ground when you're digging around in your camera bag, and over the years, my L-brackets have borne the brunt of scratches and pits from being on the ground.
Alternatively, that meant that the bottom of my camera was pristine. That's not only a good thing from an aesthetic point of view, but it's also helpful for resale value should I decide to get rid of my camera. It's a win-win!
Disadvantages of L-Brackets
I would be remiss if I didn't point out a couple of disadvantages of using an L-bracket. After all, it's not all sunshine and roses with these things!
For starters, an L-bracket adds weight and size to your camera, which isn't a dealbreaker by any means, but if you're shooting with a big camera like my Nikon D850, it's already big enough.
In fact, it's difficult to squeeze my D850 into some bags as it is with the optional battery grip attached, so having an L-bracket on it makes it that much more difficult.
Secondly, some L-brackets (particularly universal-fit ones) have poor access to the battery door - if there's access to the battery door at all.
Likewise, they often have poor access to the ports on the other side of the camera.
This requires you to carry a hex tool around at all times so you can loosen the bracket to swap out the battery. This obviously negates the time-saving advantages of an L-bracket, and is something to consider when choosing the right L-bracket for you.
Model Specific L-Brackets vs Universal L-Brackets
Speaking of choosing the right L-bracket for you, a primary concern should be whether you get one specific to your camera or a universal option.
As noted above, universal brackets offer less access to the battery door and ports on your camera, and with all the adjustments that are needed to gain access to those areas, universal L-brackets aren't nearly as functional or speedy to use as model-specific ones.
However, universal L-brackets tend to be less spendy, and since budget is a huge factor for most of us, that could very well swing you in favor of a universal bracket.
In making that all-important decision, use this review as a guide, do some independent research, read other reviews, and develop a solid understanding of what you need and what each of these L-brackets offers.
The more time you invest in determining the best L-bracket for you, the better off you'll be!