July 27, 2013

Desmond DAC-04 Arca/Slidefix Quick Release Clamp Review

Desmond DAC-04 Arca/Slidefix Quick Release Clamp
It was back in September 2012 when Desmond Photographic Distribution had introduced their first dual function quick release clamp the Desmond DBA-1 Bogen (Manfrotto) / Arca Clamp which merged the worlds of Manfrotto® RC-2 system and Arca-Swiss® compatible clamps.
The success of that clamp led to the release of another dual function solution, this time the QR clamp serves for mounting both the Arca-Swiss® Classic and the Slidefix® sized dovetail plates/rails.

The DAC-04 QR clamp is not unique in design as its DBA-1 sibling but is the first low budget solution accommodating both systems.

The clamp
Manufacturer Specification:
Model:DAC-04
Height:18.0 mm
Width with Screw Knob:83.0 mm
Jaw Length:60.0 mm (2.36")
Metal Converter:3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20
Weight:124 gr

Desmond DAC-04 Arca/Slidefix QR Clamp - box
As most Desmond products, DAC-04 comes in a small, plain, white box with a model and code sticker. It is wrapped in an air-bubble bag and is accompanied by a good quality 3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20 reducer bushing.
Desmond DAC-04 Arca/Slidefix QR Clamp - top
The prevailing characteristic of the DAC-04 is the double jaw design. One pair for the Arca-Swiss® Classic dovetail size on top and one pair for the narrower Slidefix® below. Otherwise, same feeling as with the all Desmond products I have reviewed recently. Sturdiness, very good machining and finishing of a high quality product with a price tag far less than expected. The clamp is made totally out of Aluminium with no rubber parts. A simple design with flat surfaces, two deep safety-screw relief grooves on the sides (rather useless as we can see later) and a countersunk hole in the center which is also threaded 3/8"-16.
The 33mm long, captive screw knob is of one piece design, with a grooved surface for good handling even with gloves.
Desmond DAC-04 Arca/Slidefix QR Clamp - bottom
The bottom is flat, equally well finished, with the center hole 3/8"-16 thread more obvious now and the crossed alignment/anti-twist grooves for certain types of ball heads. With this cross type anti-twist grooves the clamp may be easily re-oriented by 90° increments on certain heads especially monopod heads and rails with matching anti-twist bosses.
The moving jaw tongues are classic in design, from end to end letting a small glimpse of the push-back springs when opened fully. The jaw opens and closes very smoothly via the screw knob, due to the very small tolerances and the thick silicone-grease lubrication.

Fitting the QR clamp on a Ball head
The clamp can be mounted on top of a ball head stem either by screwing it directly on a 3/8" (or an 1/4" stud via the provided reducer bushing), or...

Desmond DAC-04 QR Clamp w/ Triopo RS-3 ball head + 6M screw + hex key
as most ball heads nowadays have a threaded hole and anti-twist bosses, by aligning and placing it on the bosses then using an M6 or an 1/4"-20 flat head screw, tighten it securely with the appropriate Allen hex key.
Desmond DAC-04 QR Clamp onTriopo RS-3 ball head
The clamp is perfectly aligned and fixed in place as shown in the photo above.

Using with an Arca Classic compatible plate.

Desmond DAC-04 QR Clamp w/ Desmond DPL-100 Lens plate
The clamp can accept any size Arca Classic compatible plates/rails which will reside on the top pair of jaws. However, its larger jaw size is more appropriate for use with long lens plates or long rails, loaded with heavier gear as it gives more clamping surface and clamping power. The longer jaws allow more room for the fore-aft adjustment of a long rail in contrast to small clamps, while they offer enhanced security when handling heavier gear.
Desmond DAC-04 QR Clamp w/ DPL-100 - stop screw void
However, the compromise having a double deck with the wider jaws on top, is that there can't be any plate/rail slip off security. Since the safety stop relief grooves are level with the lower deck the safety stop screws under the classic Arca compatible rails are hanging in the space between the lower jaws. Many users don't like safety stop screws because they deprive from the slide-in of rail, but if you belong to the ones who rely the security of their gear on safety stopscrews, you need to be cautious. 
Please note that this is not a flaw of the specific clamp but an issue inherent on all double deck clamps even the Arca-Swiss® own, therefore mentioned only for precaution.



Using with an Arca Slidefix® plate.

Desmond DAC-04 QR Clamp w/ Arca Slidefix camera plate
Thinking positively, the great benefit of this clamp is that you may use plates and/or rails of both Arca dovetail widths.
As shown above the clamp accommodates Arca-Slidefix® plates on the lower deck, clamping them securely by its narrower jaws.

Arca-Swiss® Compatibility
The DAC-04 quick release clamp was tested with various camera plates and lens plates, as well as with multi purpose 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, except with some very thick rails with wider dovetail edge radius.
Due to the double deck nature of the QR clamp, in my opinion the designer has reduced a little the jaw height in sake of the overall height.
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.

Desmond DAC-04 QR Clamp - dimensions

Clamp Jaw dimensionsA mmB mm
Jaw Length60.0360.03
Steady Jaw Height03.2603.16
Moving Jaw Height05.8405.84
Min Jaw Lip Opening34.8223.78
Max Jaw Lip Opening38.9627.92
Min Base Opening40.3528.86
Max Base Opening43.9433.21


The yellow figures in the above specs are quite lower than 5 mm which is considered the middle of the dovetail V cut that may prove an issue with some thick rails. Even so, the clamp jaws are very strong and due to the very small tolerances there is no play or deformation of the moving jaw as with some really cheap clamps. The jaws can still clamp a thick dovetail securely, just need caution with very thick rails to tighten the knob well for safety..
All other dimensions fall within the average limits, consisting the clamp compatible with a large number of Arca-Swiss® Classic type plates and rails and of course the Arca-Slidefix®.


Pros
Dual, Arca double deck design at a very low price.
Exceptional machining, finishing and anodizing quality for the price.
Excellent fitting with very small tolerances.
Very smooth operation.
Good quality metal 3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20 conversion bushing included.

Cons
Not compatible with safety stop screws which needs cautious use. (As all double deck QR clamps).
A small issue due to the low jaw height that may be of importance for some potential buyers.

Conclusion
Desmond DAC-04 offers a very low budget solution for users of both Arca-Classic and Arca-Slidefix® plates and rails. Although, this is a limited market, there are many Arca-Swiss® Ball head owners that would like to exchange their old type or worn out quick release clamp, and many more others that would like to use the very broad Slidefix® series of accessories. If you are one of them, then this might be a nice solution for you.
Nevertheless, while it has a low price tag, it maintains the same Desmond good quality standards and excellent Value for Money!

Note : The DAC-04 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: © 2013 S.C.Vlachos

Price and Availability:
Current price for the DAC-04 is US$ 29.97 (+Shipping where applicable) and is available  from Amazon.com
Please use above link(s) to make a purchase and help support this site.

Relevant Articles:
Desmond DBA-1 Bogen (Manfrotto) / Arca Clamp Review
Desmond DAC-01 50mm Quick Release Clamp Review
Desmond DAC-02 60mm Quick Release Clamp Review

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