October 20, 2011

Triopo B-2 Quick Release Clamp Review

Triopo B-2 Quick Release Clamp overview
Surfing the net and searching about new products led me to a listing in ebay with the title "Triopo B-2 Ball head Quick Release Plate Clamp...". The listing price was USD 15.90 shipping included!
With all QR clamp's prices, to my knowledge, ranging from $ 45 to over $ 100 plus shipping most of the times, I found myself in a big dilemma... should I order a pizza or a quick release clamp?
My curiosity prevailed and I decided to order one and find out what this clamp could do.
Was it a bargain or a just cheep?

The Clamp

Triopo B-2 Quick Release Clamp box & bag
The Triopo B-2 Quick Release clamp or "For the quick release plate" as written on its carton box was accompanied by a blue "velvet" drawstring bag as most of the Triopo ball heads and plates. Although, I expected to find in the box an appropriate screw for mounting the clamp, there was none.
Triopo B-2 Quick Release Clamp side-top - jaws open
The clamp came with open jaws, a little offset screw knob and the impression of low quality CNC machining and finishing, besides the glossy black anodizing.
It is a robust Arca Swiss® compatible aluminum clamp 4,9cm (1.93") long and 1cm (0.39") thick. The counter sunk center hole is also threaded 1/4"-20. There are two safety stop relief grooves on each side of the hole but they are very shallow only 1mm deep, which is not enough to accept plates or rails with M3 stop screws. On one side there is also a spring loaded detent pin that secures any plate or rail from slipping off, if the clamp is left open.
The moving jaw has two long alignment tongues from side to side, revealing two springs in the associated grooves when open.
Triopo B-2 Quick Release Clamp side-top - jaws closed
The aluminum screw knob extends 3,5cm (1.38") on the side, has a plastic tube "stem" over the screw thread and is covered by a rubber ring which helps for a better grip.
First attempt to close the clamp led to some squicking and a stopped halfway. A closer examination showed a misalignment of the tongues due to bent or misfitted screw knob. A little alignment (bending) of the screw helped closing the clamp, but still not all the way in. After working the screw knob a few times it became smooth but needs a lot of force to screw the jaw to completely closed position. If you manage to do so, then the jaw may stick closed even after unscrewing the knob. With a little help it pops open but there must be a problem with the mechanism (flange?) that stops the screw from falling off if the screw knob is unscrewed completely.
It needs 3 & 3/4 rotations of the knob from the completely "closed" position of the jaws at 3.7cm (1.46") to the completely open position of the jaws at 4.4cm (1.73"), quite enough to accommodate a big range of dovetail plates and rails.
Triopo B-2 Quick Release Clamp side-bottom
The flat bottom side shows quite many things... while the first impression of the low finishing quality remains, we can see a long alignment groove running in the middle from side to side which fits the ball stem islands in order to avoid twisting, the 1/4"-20 thread of the center hole, the flat screw holding the spring loaded detent pin and last... the gap left when the moving jaw is fully screwed in.



Mounting the clamp on Triopo RS-3 ball head
The main reason for purchasing and trying out this quick release clamp, was to find a better match for the  Triopo RS-3 Ball Head in terms of fitting, size and especially price.

Triopo B-2 QR Clamp w/ Triopo RS-3 ballhead
By removing the RS-3's top round plate as described in my Triopo RS-3 Ball Head Review all you need is an M6 flat screw 2cm (3/4") long and an Allen hex key in order to mount the clamp on the ball head.
Triopo B-2 QR Clamp on Triopo RS-3 ballhead
The clamp fits snugly on top of the Triopo RS-3 ball head giving it a total height of 8cm (3.15") and adds up a little to the total weight raising it to 384gr (13.55oz). The size of the QR clamp remains within the limits of the ball head base making suitable for use with a reverse folding traveler tripod.
Triopo B-2 QR Clamp on Triopo RS-3 ballhead w/ off-set camera plate
I chose to test the clamp with one of my Marumi® quick release plates, which does not have M3 stop screws. This plate can slide in from the side, but the detent pin should be pressed by hand in order to permit it to go all the way in. Otherwise, the plate should be inserted from top, by opening the clamp more, as it must be done with plates equipped with M3 stop screws. Needless to say that plates equipped with stop screws should be at least 7cm long in order to sit properly with screws laying outside the clamp, since as fore mentioned the relief grooves are shallow. Otherwise the stop screws must be removed.
Triopo B-2 QR Clamp on Triopo RS-3 ballhead w/ camera plate centered
With the plate inserted and tightened, the clamp jaw does not need to close all the way (as is common to all clamps) so there is adequate room to tighten the clamp, enough to hold the plate firmly and securely, without facing a stuck jaw problem as mentioned previously.
Now, in order to remove the plate, one must lift it from the top by opening the jaws since there is not any side button to lower the detent pin in order to slide it out. It needs only two rotations of the knob to secure or fully release and remove the plate from top.
As I'm used to inserting and removing plates and rails with M3 stop screws from the top, this is not a drawback for me, I only mention it for those used to insert and remove plates or rails sliding them in or out from the side.
Triopo B-2 QR Clamp on Triopo RS-3 ballhead tilted
Although the ball stem is very short, there still is a marginal gap between the clamp's bottom and the ball head top rim when the clamp is tilted in the drop notch. This is an advantage of the clamp's flat bottom, as I faced problems with other manufacturer's clamps which almost scratched the top rim when tilted in the drop notch.
By enlarging the photo, you can also see that the clamp jaws fit well to the plate's dovetail for a secure grip.
Triopo B-2 QR Clamp on Triopo RS-3 ballhead - portrait
When the clamp is fully tilted in portrait position, there is a little more air between it and the head body but it almost touches the rubber band on the side.

Pros
Rock bottom price.

Cons
Inadequate finishing.
Misaligned moving parts and high tolerance in fitting.

Conclusion
As this clamp is the one fit on the Triopo B-2 Ball Head, one may also come to conclusions about the B-2 ball head's functionality.
It fits well to the Triopo RS-3 Ball head's simple functionality, aesthetics and most of all price level.
However, I don't know if the specific clamp I received, was a bad sample or if all the Triopo "For the quick release plate" clamps are  manufactured like this but for sure Triopo's quality control needs a lot of improvement, a subject on which I will comment more in my Triopo GT-3228X8C Tripod Review.
Would that permit them to maintain the very low prices they offer? Maybe not, since quality control raises the production cost, but there is always a middle way.
However, keeping in mind the very low cost, if you just need a clamp to do the job and do not mind about finishing quality and maybe one or two drawbacks, then this clamp might be considered as a bargain, otherwise avoid.

I hope you found this review useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos: © 2011 S.C.Vlachos

Referenced Articles:
Triopo RS-3 Ball Head Review
Triopo GT-3228X8C Traveler Tripod Review

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