The Kirk Universal Camera Plate is a 2 7/8" long Arca-Type camera plate machined from 6061T6 aluminum. It's available with both ¼" and 3/8" threads (DSLR's typically use the ¼" size). Kirk actually makes numerous sizes of quick release camera plates, many custom fit for specific cameras (see Kirk Photo for full list). We opted for the Universal Fit so we could switch it between the DSLR's and Video Cameras in our permanent kit as needed, as well as use it on gear we get in to test on occasion.
In the interests of full disclosure, Kirk provided the specific replacement plate used in this review to us at a discounted price for long term testing. As such we will periodically be updating this review detailing how this foot holds up over time under heavy use, and in some cases extreme conditions.
Installation and Set UpAs you can see from the picture above, the plate comes complete with hex key and a safety-stop set (more on those below). Installation takes about 30 seconds - simply line up the plate where you want it, and then tightening the screw with the supplied hex key and you're done.
Safety StopsThe Kirk Universal Quick Release Camera Plate also comes with Safety Stops (two screws and a hex key), which can be installed at either end of the plate (you can see the holes for installation in the image below). If you forget to tighten the clamp fully, or the clamp comes loose for some reason, the safety stops are there to stop the camera sliding out of the end of the quick release clamp. With both stops installed, you have to back out the clamp far enough to drop the plate into it from the top (about a whole turn, instead of the quarter turn typically needed to release and slide out a plate). With just one safety stop installed, you can slide the plate into the clamp from one direction only. We've opted not to install them for now, but that may change with usage. If you do install them, we recommend using a blue thread locker.
Fit and FinishFit and finish are of the high standards you expect from Kirk. The screw is stainless steel, and the rubber layer on top prevents damage to the camera and grips the camera body very well.
In Use/Performance (Feb 2010)So far it's done exactly what it's designed to do – grip the camera tightly and allow it to be used with Arca-Type clamps. We've tried it on our D300 with MB-D10 (above), D90 and Sony Video Camera: The rubber layer grips the camera very securely, and locks securely in all the various Quick Release Clamps from differing manufacturers that we've tested it with. If you are looking for a Universal Plate, the Kirk unit is highly recommended. If you are looking for one for a specific camera (shaped to fit the camera even more snugly), then Kirk more than likely has a plate for that too.
We'll update this review periodically moving forward, this plate will get a lot of use on different cameras over the coming months/years, we'll report back how it holds up and performs in different environments.
To get an Kirk Camera Plate for your camera, please check out B&H Photo or Kirk Enterprises.