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Best L-bracket for your camera in 2021

Included in this guide:

Best L-bracket
(Image credit: 3 Legged Thing)

Looking for the best L-bracket for your DSLR or mirrorless camera? This guide will tell you what to look out for, help you pick the best one, and find you the best prices.

We all know the value of using a tripod for shooting landscapes. Not only does it keep your camera rock-steady through the duration of an exposure, it’s also a vital composition aid. It enables you to carefully compose your scene, then wait for the opportune moment just before firing the shutter. 

Jobbing pros also know that to maximize the sales potential of their shots, they have to shoot in both landscape and portrait orientations, so that their images are suitable for magazine or brochure spreads and covers. 

However, tripods are primarily designed for shooting horizontally. While most tripod heads can be tilted by 90 degrees to flip the camera into a vertical orientation, this shifts the position of the camera to the side of – and often below – the original shooting position, so your carefully considered composition needs to be redone from scratch. 

It also shifts the centre of gravity from directly above the tripod legs, potentially destabilising the entire setup. 

An L-bracket is a camera plate that wraps around the camera in an L-shape, with the tripod mount running underneath and to the side of the camera. To change the shooting orientation from horizontal to vertical, you pop the camera off the tripod and remount it using the socket on its side.

On the face of it, an L-bracket is simply a right-angled piece of metal – but, as ever, there’s a little more to it than that. Let’s check out five L-bracket options…

Editor's Choice

(Image credit: Future)

3-Legged Thing Ellie

Best universal L-bracket for your camera

Specifications
Dimensions: 95 x 85mm
Adjustable width?: Yes (95-128mm)
Arca Swiss compatible: Yes
Material: Aluminum
Weight: 0.21lb / 95g
Reasons to buy
+Well-considered design+Customizable set-up allows clear access to most camera sockets+Available in orange or gray
Reasons to avoid
-Neither color option blends in well with a black camera set-up

Available in a striking copper orange or a (slightly) more sober metallic slate gray finish, the Ellie certainly is eye-catching. Like the Benro and Zhiyou brackets here, it’s crafted from two pieces of aluminum, but the key difference is that while the rival brackets’ plates are fixed in place, here hex keys can be loosened to slide the base plate along rails, to snugly fit the shape of your camera. 

Rather than the camera attachment screw sliding along the length of the base plate, there are two slots for them to slide across the width of the plate, and this enables the opening on the side plate to be aligned with the connector door openings. On our Nikon D850 test DSLR, we were able to access the HDMI and USB sockets. The headphone and mic sockets were still blocked by the bar across the top of the plate, but these aren’t used for the type of stills shooting scenarios for which L-brackets are designed. On our Nikon Z7, everything was accessible. 

Another thoughtful touch is that the slide plate edges are contoured, to enable flip-out screens to be easily accessed. 

(Image credit: Future)

Manfrotto L-Bracket RC4

Luxury L-bracket

Specifications
Dimensions: 20 x 12.5mm
Adjustable width?: No
Arca Swiss compatible: No
Material: Magnesium
Weight: 0.83lb / 377g
Reasons to buy
+Upmarket magnesium construction+Variety of Manfrotto-compatible plates
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Dwarfs smaller cameras-Feels over-engineered to do a relatively simple job

By far the most substantial bracket here, Manfrotto’s RC4 is a one-piece design and is constructed from magnesium. While the other brackets come with an Arca Swiss fitting, the RC4 is compatible with Manfrotto’s 410PL quick-release plate; Arca Swiss plates slide along the length into a tripod mount, while this clicks into a fixed position on the tripod head. Further variations are the Q2, fitted with 200PL-14 plates, and the Q5, which uses 501PL plates. 

The RC4 comes with a Y-shaped ruler to measure the distance between the lens barrel and plate; the idea is you set the same distance between the lens and both the base and side plates, so the centre of the lens is perfectly lined up in both portrait and landscape orientation. Other features include a level bubble, and a pullout peg to prevent the camera rotating. 

The RC4 dwarfs our test Z7 to the point of being difficult to use the controls, and even felt like overkill on the D850. This bracket is really designed for the more square shape of bigger pro-grade cameras, such as the Nikon D6, or when a battery grip is fitted to the camera.

(Image credit: Future)

Benro BLB1

Affordable L-bracket for DSLRs or CSCs

Specifications
Dimensions: 7.5 x 11cm
Adjustable width?: No
Arca Swiss compatible: Yes
Material: Aluminum
Weight: 0.24lb / 110g
Reasons to buy
+Allows hot-swapping of batteries+Low cost
Reasons to avoid
-The ‘open’ side plate didn’t allow cable access to the cameras we tried

Benro’s bracket has a shorter base plate than the Zhiyou, but it fits both a full-sized DSLR and a full-frame mirrorless, thanks to the camera screw that slides from left to right along the base plate. The chunky camera-mount screw has a D-ring to enable hand-tightening, but is also supplied with a hex key to fully secure the plate to the camera.

Like most of the plates here, rubber pads run along the top of the plate to protect the underside of the camera, and there’s a slot for a hand strap to be attached. It’s constructed from two plates of aluminum, joined securely with a hex bolt. 

Most of the side plate is open, with the tripod plate fitting running along two arms. The idea is that this gives access to the camera connectors, but we found that all the sockets on our test DSLR (a Nikon D850) were obscured by one of the arms, blocking access to the HDMI, USB, headphone and mic sockets. 

On our test mirrorless (a Nikon Z 7) you could just about access the headphone/mic sockets, but the camera remote socket was also obscured, in addition to the HDMI and USB ports.

(Image credit: Future)

Zhiyou Universal L-Bracket

Great budget-priced L-bracket

Specifications
Dimensions: 15.5 x 9.9mm
Adjustable width?: No
Arca Swiss compatible: Yes
Material: Aluminum
Weight: 0.26lb / 120g
Reasons to buy
+Cheap+Solidly made+Plentiful accessory connection points
Reasons to avoid
-Blocks the battery door-No attempt to offer access to the various connector ports

We were keen to see how a cheaperoption found on the likes of Amazon and eBay fared against its brand-name rivals. We plumped for the Zhiyou Universal Camera L-Bracket. 

It feels solidly made, despite its low price tag, and is constructed from two hefty chunks of aluminium, joined together with a pair of hex bolts. We were relieved that, when switching the camera from horizontal to vertical orientation, the camera remained perfectly level. 

Both the base plate and the side plate have a measuring scale marked along their length, to make lining up the camera with just the right place on the tripod head easier for framing the scene. 

It’s actually one of the longer brackets in the test, with the base plate measuring 13.5cm, and the camera screw mounting slot extending a good 7cm of this, ensuring it fits a wide variety of cameras. However, it’s so long that it obscures the battery door of even a big camera such as a D850. The side plate blocks all the camera connection ports too, although it’s packed with a multitude of accessory mounting screw holes.

(Image credit: Future)

3-Legged Thing Zelda

Best L-bracket for Nikon full-frame mirrorless cameras

Specifications
Dimensions: 106 x 85mm
Adjustable width?: No
Arca Swiss compatible: Yes
Material: Aluminum
Weight: 0.15lb / 67g
Reasons to buy
+Custom fit for Nikon full-frame mirrorless cameras+All connection ports accessible+Available in orange or gray
Reasons to avoid
-Only fits a small number of Nikon cameras

Originally launched alongside the Nikon Z6 and Z7, the Zelda is a custom-fit bracket designed solely for Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless range. With their form factors being virtually identical, it also fits the more recent Nikon Z 5, as well as the Z 6II and the Z 7II. The smaller Z 50 has its own variant, the 3-Legged Thing Zayla.

Unlike the other aluminum brackets, this is crafted from a single piece of metal; with
no joins, there shouldn’t be any danger of the right angle sagging over time.

The camera connection screw doesn’t slide along the frame but is fixed in place; a notch next to it slips into a recess on the underside of Z-system full-frame bodies, ensuring that the camera is perfectly lined up. 

The open side plate is designed to fit the ports of the Z cameras precisely, and there’s also a screw hole for attaching accessories. It fits the Z cameras so well that it’s the obvious choice if you own one of these mirrorless machines. 

The downside, of course, is that it won’t fit any other non-full-frame Z mirrorless cameras you might have – now or in the future. 

L-bracket: 5 things to look out for

1. A universal bracket offers flexibility to upgrade, but a custom-fit bracket ensures a perfect fit.

2. Most L-brackets are Arca Swiss-compatible: if your tripod head doesn’t have this mount, it won’t fit.

3. Designs that enable you to access the battery door are handy should you run out of juice mid-shoot.

4. Some brackets obscure the connection ports, which may be a problem if you like to shoot tethered.

5. Rubber strips on the base plate prevent scratches and scrapes on the underside of your camera.

Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 


His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 


In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.