A lot of professional photographers will have an L-bracket on hand when it comes to landscape photography. This is a really underrated tool, which doesn’t get talked about much. Yet, if you want to achieve the best landscape photography, you require this device.
An L-bracket has various benefits, with the main one being that it helps you to take stable and centered images. There are various other reasons why you should keep an L-bracket on hand.
If you want to improve your landscape photography, then you need to purchase an L-bracket. In this article, we will discuss the reasons why you require an L-bracket for landscape photography.
What Is A L-Bracket?
An L-bracket is a right-angled frame which wraps around the bottom and left side of your camera. Each side is designed to resemble a baseplate, so you can quickly change the camera’s position from portrait to landscape without having to reposition the tripod.
Although it may seem insignificant, a few more seconds can spell the difference between obtaining the shot and missing it when photographing a landscape. This is all thanks to the mounting area which is provided by the L-bracket.
You may be surprised to see how much easier landscape photography is after you acquire an L-bracket for your camera and tripod. You will never want to leave home without it again when you plan your next landscape photography shoot.
Who Needs An L-Bracket?
Not all kinds of photography require an L-bracket. For example, if you are a photographer who works in a studio or never uses a tripod in your work, then you won’t need an L-bracket.
Thus, if you do regularly use a tripod for your photography, you could greatly benefit from the help of an L-bracket.
This includes landscape photographers, commercial photographers, architectural photographers and macro photographers. There are many advantages to using an L-bracket for these kinds of photography which we will discuss next.
Reasons You Need An L-Bracket
There is a lot to think about when it comes to purchasing an L-bracket, but you may still be wondering if you really need one. When it comes to landscape photography, (see also: 10 Best Landscape Photography Ideas) an L-bracket is a vital piece of equipment that you need to have on hand.
Below are the reasons and the benefits that having an L-bracket can provide you with when it comes to landscape photography.
1. Easily Alter The Orientation Of Your Camera
L-plates utilize the quick-release Arca Swiss technology, which makes it exceedingly simple to secure your camera to the tripod’s ball head. It’s usual for you to want to try capturing various setups in both portrait and landscape orientation when the light is just right.
With an L-bracket on the camera, you can easily switch orientations and only need to make small changes to your ball head. This is since you’ve already turned the camera nearly parallel to the optical axis.
To switch to portrait orientation without an L-plate, you would have to use the drop notch found on the ball head. This then affects your whole composition as it is moved to one side and much lower than before.
All that initial setup to position the camera at the ideal working height has been impacted because your camera is now lower than it was before.
Landscape photographers frequently travel vast distances and invest a significant amount of time in waiting for the ideal lighting conditions. Any speed boost you may provide yourself with when the conditions are perfect will help you get more photos.
2. Camera Protection
The L-brackets operate as a protective casing that encircles the camera body. It is especially helpful for preventing dents and scratches on the camera’s base. You can set the camera on the floor for a moment without worrying that you’ll break it or reduce its value.
Your camera will be in such better shape if you ever choose to part with it. In turn, you’ll be able to demand a higher asking price and essentially recoup the cost of the L-plate.
The greatest models of L-brackets are those made of sturdy, long-lasting materials. These are more likely to shield your camera if it gets dropped or kicked over, in addition to lasting longer.
3. Center Of Gravity Is Secure
One of the drawbacks of utilizing a conventional drop notch and plate is having to move the camera position. The second is altering the center of gravity, which can greatly affect the composition of your images if this changes.
The center of gravity on the tripod is altered and shifted when the drop notch is being used. The center of gravity will move from being in the center to on the side of the ball head. There are three drawbacks to this:
- In order to correct the composition, you must reposition the tripod. This will waste time when you are trying to obtain the perfect shot.
- Managing the knobs and ball head in such a position is challenging.
- It throws the tripod off balance, which could cause it to topple over and possibly damage your camera in the meantime.
You won’t have to worry about altering the composition or the tripod tipping over thanks to the L-bracket, which enables you to maintain the center of gravity. Thus, the center of gravity will remain at the top of your tripod.
4. Capture Sharper Photos
If you’re not using an L-bracket, you’re either going to use a smaller tripod plate or rotate the camera into a ball head with the 1/4 20′′ thread on its base. The risk of the camera moving on the tripod plate is higher with the other two solutions being used.
Since they provide you with a considerably smaller contact point with the camera. Not only is having to constantly tighten things up bothersome, but it can also result in poorer quality photographs because the camera moves a tiny bit during longer exposures.
This is especially problematic if you are trying to capture a portrait-oriented photo after flipping the camera. When used in such a manner, it is typical for the camera to droop somewhat on a normal tripod plate due to the weight of the lens.
The sharpness of your photographs will suffer, especially if your camera sits in the ball head. This is because the ball head is much more prone to sagging under greater weights.
The base of the camera has a considerably greater area of contact with an L-bracket, which increases friction and limits rotation of the bracket.
Additionally, an L-bracket holds the camera’s weight in portrait orientation exactly over the top of the tripod. This improves overall tripod stabilization on soft ground or in windier circumstances and yields better and sharper shots.
5. Accurate Panorama Shots
L-brackets and release plates are clear winners for panorama photography. Panoramas are usually taken with your camera in a portrait configuration on the tripod.
If you move your camera to the side of the tripod ball head without an L-bracket, it can be quite challenging to position the camera so that it is level as you pan in the panorama.
Also, without an L-bracket, the camera will nearly always pan in an upward or downward direction.
Forcing you to chop off a section of the panorama when you stitch everything together to ensure that the horizons remain straight. Thus, an L-bracket can help you to achieve a straight horizon much more easily.
What To Look Out For In A L-Bracket?
There are various different types of L-brackets for you to choose from, as multiple manufacturers have created their own L-bracket.
As a result, there are a couple of factors to keep in mind when you are selecting an L-bracket for your camera and tripod. The price of an L-bracket can vary, but you must ensure that you are purchasing a good quality product.
With photography equipment, sometimes you need to pay a little more, as it will last you longer and is more reliable. The following are the main things to keep in mind when purchasing an L-bracket:
- One Piece – We would advise that you pick an L-bracket that is only one piece of material. One piece is far more stable and secure than two pieces which have been screwed together and could easily move apart. This then may not keep your camera safe.
- Material – L-brackets can be made from various materials, however, we would suggest you avoid plastic L-brackets. Mainly, as they aren’t very durable and can easily break or warp when exposed to extreme temperatures.
- Simple – An L-bracket should be simple. All it needs to do is attach to your tripod and keep your camera secure and stable. If your L-bracket has any other benefits, you need to consider whether they are really worth it.
- Fit – Just like with anything, you want to ensure that you are happy with the fit of the L-bracket to your camera. The L-bracket should keep your camera stable while also being secure in place at the same time.
Universal And Custom Made L-Brackets
A lot of manufacturers have created an L-bracket to fit each camera they have created. It is important that your bracket fits your camera well to keep it stable.
Hence, a lot of people will look for a camera and L-bracket combination as they know that everything will fit securely. However, not all cameras will have a specially made L-bracket created by the same company.
Therefore, you may need to look into universal L-brackets. These brackets are as their name suggests, supposed to be universal so that any camera can use it.
The issue with universal L-brackets is that while they may do the job not all cameras will fit as securely as others. A universal L-bracket is a good option if you don’t think you will use it often.
However, if you want to get lots of use out of your L-bracket and want the most stability, then you may wish to look at custom-made brackets.
If your camera’s manufacturer hasn’t created an L-bracket, then you may seek out another company that creates custom-made L-brackets. With a custom-made L-bracket, it is created to fit your camera perfectly.
As a result, when it comes to L-brackets, then you have the option of universal or custom-made L-brackets, whether that is from the same company as your camera or a different one.
It is important for landscape photography that you have faith in your L-bracket and you are happy with the fit.
Drawbacks Of L-Brackets
L-brackets aren’t perfect, but they are crucial to have on hand. We feel that you should be made aware of the drawbacks an L-bracket can have.
These downsides shouldn’t put you off using and owning an L-bracket, as the benefits definitely outweigh the negatives. However, you need to keep in mind what drawbacks an L-bracket has. These are following:
Bulky And Weight
L-brackets can add a little more weight to your overall gear. This isn’t much more weight, but it can make holding your camera a little heavier when this bracket is attached.
Also, if you are going on a trip and are aware of how much weight you will be carrying, you may notice the slight weight that this bracket offers.
Furthermore, the size of an L-bracket is noticeable when you wish to use a camera specific backpack, and the interior dimensions are limited. Different makes of L-bracket will have slightly different weights.
Thus, if you are trying to keep the weight of your photography gear (see also: The Best Gear For Planetary Photography) down, you should keep an eye on the dimensions and weight of your chosen L-bracket.
An L-bracket will hug and cover the left side of your camera, as a result, certain areas including ports will be difficult to use. In fact, if you want to use certain ports while the camera is in the bracket, you will have to remove the camera from the frame.
With that being said, not all L-brackets are the same, so certain brackets may not cover up everything and provide you with slightly more access.
However, the majority of L-brackets, in particular universal L-brackets, will restrict your access to these certain areas completely.
Certain L-brackets may not block your access to left side ports, but they can make it more difficult for you to open or gain entry to them. Thus, you need to make sure that you can find ways to work around this restriction.
L-brackets can vary in price. However, like all photography equipment, you can easily end up paying lots of money on L-brackets. There are plenty of popular brands out there for L-brackets for you to choose from.
Although, these popular brands also come with a higher price tag. If you do a bit of research you will be able to come across a more affordable brand if you are on a budget.
There are some cheaper alternatives out there, but you might also have to replace the ball head on your tripod to be able to use the L-bracket.
Ball heads typically have a unique or exclusive release plate and mount. They are made so that you can install the ball head to the custom release plate by screwing it to the bottom of the camera.
Arca Swiss ball head mounts are designed to accommodate L-brackets. You must purchase a new ball head if your existing one is not Arca Swiss in order to use an L-bracket.
Overall, you are looking to pay anywhere from $40 upwards for an L-bracket, depending on the brand you go for and what the bracket is constructed from. This can be quite a lot of money for a small device, but it is definitely worth it.
Tips When Using L-Brackets
As you can see an L-bracket is a really important tool to own. Therefore, once you have found and purchased one you are happy with, you can start using it for your landscape photography.
There are a few tips to keep in mind when you do start using your L-bracket for the first time. These tips will ensure that you are using the bracket properly so that you get the best images from it possible.
Keep Everything Secure
L-brackets enable you to slip your camera on and off your tripod. They create a solid framework that involves your camera and tripod, to ensure simple movement but also stability.
To prevent unnecessary movement, ensure that the camera is securely fastened to the L-bracket. This will keep your camera safe as it won’t fall out of position, which will also ensure that your composition does not alter either.
An L-bracket will cause the bottom and side areas of your camera to be blocked. Thus, you won’t be able to get into those areas while the camera is in the bracket.
If you need to switch batteries while filming, you will need to take off and re-attach the L-bracket. Therefore, this is why we suggest that you have a fully charged battery before attaching your camera to the tripod.
The last thing you want is to be set up and in the perfect position, for your battery to die. Then you have to take off the camera and reattach your camera to the tripod.
As mentioned above, due to the position of the L-bracket, it may restrict your access to certain areas on your camera such as the battery.
In addition to this, depending on the make of camera you own, the L-bracket may limit your access to certain cable ports. Hence, your usual shutter release pot might be cut off.
As a result, if this port is unavailable, then you will need to find an alternative shutter release. Play around with using your L-bracket first to see what you can and can’t do. Then you can find alternative ways to still use your camera when you do want to get that perfect shot.
If you are aiming to improve your landscape photography then you definitely need to acquire an L-bracket. There are many advantages to using an L-bracket as we have discussed above. Not only does it improve your camera’s stability to take sharper images.
Yet, also an L-bracket allows you to quickly switch positions quickly from landscape to portrait. As you can see, there are many advantages to having an L-bracket, which can only improve your landscape photography.
We hope you have found this article helpful and have a better idea on why you need an L-bracket for landscape photography (see also: 10 Best Nature Landscape Photography Ideas).
Frequently Asked Questions
An L-bracket is a really useful device to have, as it helps to offer you precision as you take landscape and panoramic photos. The camera will always remain centered no matter what position you have it in, which will give you focused and high quality images.
Also, this bracket offers additional protection against accidents from knocking your camera over. Which will keep your camera in working condition for longer.
It is quite simple to install an L-bracket as it is easily attached to your tripod. You need to fix the camera into the bracket and then add the bracket onto the ball head.
The camera and L-bracket will then be firmly on the tripod. However, it is always important to ensure everything is as tight as possible to reduce the chances of anything going wrong.
Most L-brackets will work on a wide variety of tripods. However, it is essential that you have the right ball head mount that is suitable for the L-bracket.
Usually, most tripods will work with an L-bracket, but you may need to acquire a different ball head mount for the tripod. Hence, do your research into what ball head mount your chosen L-bracket requires.