Thinguma Photography Tips

Why the Hex Socket Screw On My Camera Mounting Plate?

I typically leave my Really Right Stuff tripod mounting plate on my camera, even when I’m using it as a carry around camera.  Why?  Well I feel like it is simply too time consuming to try and locate an allen wrench every time I want to take the plate off.  You see, I love to use the equipment that Really Right Stuff makes; it is really great equipment.  But on their camera mounting plates, they don’t use the flip-tab type, or slotted screws that other manufacturers use.

Camera Plate

They use hex socket type screws and there is a reason they do.  You see, it is important to have the camera plate tight against the body of the camera.  Camera plates have a tendency to come loose at times and allow for play.

If you are using a tripod, there is a pretty good chance that you want to be able to keep the camera positioned in a precise location.  With a camera plate that is loose, one small bump can throw off the shot or cause frames to be misaligned when shooting HDR images.  For this reason a reliable tripod, head and camera plate must maintain perfect position.  If you have ever owned a camera plate system that had a flip-tab screw head, then you know that you typically can tighten those only until your fingertips hurt.  You can debate me on this, but that is never tight enough for a completely secure mount.  Alternately, there are the slotted screw heads, and some flip-tab screws even come with this type of screw attached.  The intent is that the screw can be tighten with a coin.  This is an issue as well though, as the necessary torque is not always achieved due to the lack of leverage.

Screws

Really Right Stuff, and other manufacturers, know that the best torque can be obtained with something like an allen wrench.  The additional leverage that an allen wrench provides, can go a long way in making certain that your camera plate is tightly fitted to your camera.  The other types of screw heads are not nearly as reliable in terms of their ability to be tightened properly.  So why doesn’t ever manufacturer use the hex socket screws?  It boils down to convenience.  Nobody needs to carry a tool for a flip-tab type screw; you only need to have a coin in your pocket for a slotted screw; and a hex socket required you to carry an allen wrench with you.  Some manufacturers choose convenience over torque and reliability.

I had a real problem with this.  I found myself on multiple occasions in need of an allen wrench, with none available.  So I scratched a drawing on a sticky note of a key that would have two tools on it.  One to tighten a hex socket screw and the other to tighten a slotted screw.  I was looking for the perfect camera plate tool.  Many months and multiple prototypes later I had my tool in hand and it is pretty convenient.

Thinguma tool

It goes right on my key chain, is low profile so that it doesn’t take up a lot of room, and gives you the added torque needed to really tighten down your camera plate.  The tool is the Thinguma Camera Plate Multi-tool (K-532).

So to answer the question, why the hex socket screw for tripod plates?  The best connection, most torque, and in the end result of the most reliable images.

And more so, how do you maintain the best of both worlds, with convenience and reliability in mind?  Hex socket screws and the Thinguma Camera Plate Multi-tool.

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