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December 2, 2012

Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo Lever / Knob Quick Release Clamp Review

Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo Lever / Knob Quick Release Clamp
Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo Lever / Knob Quick Release Clamp had first come into my attention  last August  and was mentioned in Sunwayfoto DYH-90A/B Leveling Base with Removable Duo Clamp as the upcoming then, innovative companion to the updated DYH-90 series of Leveling Bases.
Its official introduction took place in Photokina 2012 and it was finally released in the market by the end of September 2012.
L in the end of the model name stands for Long as it is a variation of the existing DLC-60 Duo Lever / Knob QR clamp but with a longer screw knob and two extra captive slots.


For those unfamiliar to the Sunwayfoto DLC Duo Lever/knob Quick Release clamp series, I should mention here that it was designed to address the major issue of all lever release clamps. That is the small width differences found between Arca-Swiss® type dovetail rails and plates from various manufactures, causing incompatibility. DLC series innovation lies in the fact that both clamp jaws are moving, one finely adjusting the clamp width via a screw knob while the other opens and closes via a Lever for fast action.

The Package & Contents

Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo QR Clamp box - shrink wrapped
The clamp comes shrink wrapped (which ensures that the product has not been opened after leaving the factory), in the lately adopted by Sunwayfoto recycled-carton box. A large white label shows the content photo, model and main specification; while a small oval-shaped transparent label bears the Quality Control stamp.
Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo QR Clamp in transport foam
The DLC-60L Duo Lever/Knob QR clamp together with screws and tools are nested in a precut foam piece that keeps them safely in place for transportation.
Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo QR Clamp box contents
The DLC-60L meets the high quality fitting and finishing Sunwayfoto standards. Its companions are one long M6 screw for ball head mounting, two short 1/4"-20 bolts for mounting on Sunwayfoto leveling bases or panoramic indexing rotators and two Allen hex keys. One 4 mm for the M6 screw and one 5 mm for the short bolts. There is also a 1/4"-20 to 3/8"-16 thread conversion bushing which came pre-installed in the center hole as shown in the previous photo.

The Clamp
Manufacturer Specification
Model DLC-60L Duo Lever / Knob QR Clamp.
Width : 64 mm
Height: 15,5 mm
Length: 108 mm
Type : Duo Lever & Long Screw Knob Release
Bottom mounting thread: 3/8"-16 UNC
Weight: 118 gr
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Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo QR Clamp top view
The quick release clamp is hard coat anodized in black matte color, following the latest Sunwayfoto design with an 1,8 mm deep carved surface for weight minimization.
By removing the conversion bushing the center hole is revealed, which is counter-sunk in order to accept a ball head mounting screw and also threaded 3/8"-16 in order to match heads or tripods with a 3/8"-16 stud.
The jaws' length is 60 mm, total width is 108 mm due to the long shaft knob and it is 15.5 mm thick. There are 4 cm long decimal scales on both jaws, the first cm around the center is marked in 1 mm increments, then in 2,5 mm and 5 mm increments, with numbers every 10 mm from 0 to 20 counting outwards.
There are two safety-stop screw relief grooves 4,5 mm deep, one at each side, permitting a motion of 21 mm either side into the clamp, for better camera/lens plate alignment. Within the safety relief grooves exist two captive slots for the 1/4"-20 bolts intended for mounting the clamp on Sunwayfoto leveling bases and rotators.
The innovation of DLC-60L Duo clamp is that the jaw opening may be very easily regulated via a short knob at the opposite side of the lever release, in order to accommodate different width dovetail Rails or Base plates.

Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo QR Clamp bottom view
The clamp's bottom side follows also the latest Sunwayfoto design with 2,5 mm deep carving in order to lower the weight by removing any excess material, as much allowed by the dual clamping mechanism in this case.
Besides the usual anti-twist groove for ball head alignment across the center hole, the two slots for mounting on other Sunwayfoto gear are evident. All at the same axis of the longitudinal middle of the clamp.
Next to the center hole, there is a small rectangular opening that reveals the lever retaining screw head.
Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo QR Clamp top view jaws openned
DLC-60L Duo QR clamp is pictured above with both jaws fully opened.
As we can see in this model the jaw tongues are internal and the counter action springs are well hidden in the relevant guiding grooves, well protected from dust accumulation of dirt.
The long shaft screw knob is made of aluminium, also CNC carved with deep grooves for a better grip and long lasting operation. The knob takes 4.5 rotations from closed to fully open, that means it can fine tune the jaw opening width really well. Sunwayfoto specifically designates the screw knob for clamp width adjustment.
However, since the regulating action is accomplished by opening the jaw on the other side of the lever release, and as we can see in the above photo the opening on the knob side is even greater than the opening on the lever side, then someone can use the knob to open or close the clamp instead of simply regulating the width, giving to the clamp a true dual function. Using either Lever or knob or both is your choice.
Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo QR Clamp lever release positions
The release Lever is equipped with a locking mechanism protecting against accidental opening of the clamp. It utilizes a spring loaded dowel pin which blocks the lever from opening and can be manipulated by a small sliding plate on the side of the Lever.
The release Lever stays in three positions. One is closed and locked (as in the lower right photo), two is half open and locked (as in the lower left photo) in order to permit sliding a rail or plate for fine adjustment and three fully open and unlocked (as in the upper photo) in order to slide in/out or install/remove a rail/plate from top.
However, unlike to the Sunwayfoto DDC-LR clamp series (Lever release only), the release lever cannot be easily rotated 180° on its axis, in order to change the orientation for right or left handed operation. It can be done though, by unscrewing the retaining screw a little from the small opening located at the bottom side of the clamp but this would require a special Γ shaped tool.

Comparison with the original DLC-60

Sunwayfoto DLC-60 Duo lever / knob QR Clamp
Pictured above is the original DLC-60 Duo Lever/Knob QR Clamp. Same concept, but a little heavier weighing 127 gr since it is a little older in design with no carvings. The embedded bubble level in one of the safety stop relief grooves, on DLC-60L gave its place to one of the two captive slots. Another obvious difference is the older design screw knob grip, which although it is also made of aluminium, has a fine line pattern instead of the new deep groove design for better handling with gloves. (Photo by courtesy of Sunwayfoto,com)


Mounting on a Ball Head
Using the DLC-60L instead of DLC-60 Duo clamp may prove convenient in some applications as someone can control and adjust the ball head via the long knob shaft or when the long knob may be better accessed under large equipment.

Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo QR Clamp w/ XB-44 LP Ball head + tools
DLC-60L may easily be attached on the ball stem of a ball head either screwed via its 3/8"-16 hole or by utilizing the (included) M6 screw and the 4 mm Allen hex key. In the latter case the ball stem should be equipped with alignment bosses that fit in the anti-twist grooves under the clamp, like the Sunwayfoto XB-44 Low Profile Ball Head above used for illustration.
Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo QR Clamp on XB-44 LP Ball head
DLC-60L is elaborately designed and sturdy enough to clamp and hold heavy loads. It is a good match for large but low weight ball heads capable of holding large and heavy gear. Size wise it would be a better match with the Sunwayfoto XB-52 Low Profile Ball Head though.

Mounting on Sunwayfoto Indexing Rotator(s)
Although I would not consider DLC-60L the perfect match for the Sunwayfoto Panoramic Indexing Rotators, due to its rectangular shape and the existence of better matches like the Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal QR Clamp, I still think it is a good option when a larger clamping surface or a the quick lever release are needed.

Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo QR Clamp w/ DDP-64MX Indexing rotator + screws + hex key
There are two ways one can mount DLC-60L on top of the Sunwayfoto DDP-64M or DDP-64S Indexing rotators. One is to utilize the (included) 1/4"-20 to 3/8"-16 conversion bushing and screw the clamp onto the rotator's 1/4"-20 stud. But this cannot guaranty perfect alignment with the rotator, especially with DDP-64SX which does not have a rotating top (More in the upcoming Sunwayfoto DDP-64SX Panoramic Indexing Rotator Review).

Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo QR Clamp on DDP-64MX Indexing rotator
Therefore it's more preferable to use the two (also included) 1/4"-20 bolt screws and the 5 mm Allen hex key to screw and secure the clamp on the rotators' top, especially when large and heavy equipment are to be used. The existing 1/4"-20 threaded holes on both rotators top plate will align and secure the clamp perfectly.

Mounting on Sunwayfoto DYH-90 Series Leveling Bases
As mentioned in the beginning, the DLC-60L Duo Lever/Knob QR Clamp owes its existence (especially the L that denotes the long shaft knob), to the purpose of offering a companion to the updated Sunwayfoto DYH-90 and DYH-90R Leveling Bases. Due to the ∅90 mm large top plate of these Leveling Bases the long shaft knob was a must in order to be able to control the clamp unobtrusively.


Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo QR Clamp w/ DYH-90R Leveling base + screws + hex key
Due to the high load bearing capacity of the DYH-90R Leveling Base shown above, DLC-60L should be mounted on its top via the two included 1/4"-20 bolt screws and the 5 mm Allen hex key.
Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo QR Clamp on DYH-90R Leveling base
DLC-60L screwed and secured on DYH-90R. DLC-60L's long shaft knob may be utilized in the leveling base adjustment during the leveling process. (More details on the mounting options and the effectiveness of this combination, in the upcoming DYH-90 and DYH-90R Leveling Base Reviews).

Arca-Swiss® Compatibility
Sunwayfoto has a complete range of universal or dedicated camera and lens plates as well as a series of multi purpose rails which cover almost any need. Of course DLC-60L Duo Lever / Long Knob quick release clamp is fully compatible with Sunwayfoto's own gear.

One the other hand, in order to check its compatibility with other manufacturers plates and rails, DLC-60L was tested with various camera plates, lens plates and multipurpose long rails of various thicknesses and widths. Plates / Rails tested were from Benro, Kiwi Fotos, Fotoporo, Marumi and Hejnar PHOTO, with very good results in general. Somhow there is a small issue with 38 mm wide and 1/2" or 5/8" (16 mm) thick rails from Hejnar PHOTO and Benro, which have a larger dovetail edge radius.
For the readers that like numbers, I hereunder quote detailed measurements of the clamp Jaw dimensions, so as they can decide whether this clamp is compatible with the dimensions of their plates or rails.

Clamp Jaw dimensions        mm
Jaw Length60
Knob Jaw Height04.18
Lever Jaw Height04.18
Min Jaw Lip Opening32.95
Max Jaw Lip Opening39.90
Min Base Opening38.60
Max Base Opening46.30

The yellow figures in the above specs are considered a little lower than 5 mm which is the middle of the dovetail V cut. All other dimensions fall above the average limits due to the dual moving jaws.
Taking into consideration the easily adjustable width of the clamp jaws, the clamp should be compatible with the majority of Arca-Swiss® type plates and rails.

Pros
Innovative dual function lever/knob design.
Excellent machining, finishing, fitting and build quality.
Very smooth operation in all aspects.
Very good dirt proof design.
Very good scratch proof anodizing.
Very low weight for the size.
Excellent value for money ratio.

Cons
Clamp jaws are a little short for the dovetail edge radius of some 1/2" & 5/8" thick rails from other manufacturers.

Conclusion
DLC-60L follows the late trend of all Sunwayfoto equipment, with any excess weight eliminated. Although, the nature of its dual locking mechanism does not permit too much carving at the bottom,  still a great effort has been made to accomplish a lower weight than the original DLC-60.
I consider this dual clamp a good option for Sunwayfoto Indexing rotators -for those that prefer a Lever lock clamp- and a must for the updated Sunwayfoto DYH-90 series of Leveling bases in order not only to ensure their Arca-Swiss® compatibility, but to take advantage of the longer jaws clamping ability when mounting long rails or heavy equipment.
The high standards of build quality for the price give an excellent value / money ratio.

Note :
The DLC-60L Duo Lever / Knob Quick Release Clamp presented in this article was kindly offered by Desmond Photographic Distribution, USA, for evaluation and review.


I hope you found the article and ideas useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: © 2012 S.C.Vlachos

Price & Availability:
Current price for the DLC-60 / DLC-60L Duo Lever clamps is US$ 69.00 (+Shipping where applicable)
DLC-60L Duo QR clamp,  DLC-60 Duo QR clamp  are available from Amazon.com
Using above link(s) to make a purchase you help support this site.

Referenced Articles:
Sunwayfoto XB-44 Low Profile Ball Head Review
Sunwayfoto DDP-64SX Panoramic Indexing Rotator Review
Sunwayfoto DDP-64MX+DDY-64 Panoramic Indexing Rotator Review
Sunwayfoto DYH-90R Leveling Base Review

Relevant Articles:
Sunwayfoto DLC-42 Duo Lever/Knob Quick Release Clamp Review
Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal Quick Release Clamp Review

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