February 25, 2015

Hejnar Photo Universal Modular L Bracket 44 Review

The Hejnar PHOTO Universal Modular L Bracket 44 follows the concept of the Modular Hejnar Photo Universal Camera L Brackets previewed quite some time ago.

Much like the Universal Modular L Bracket 22 reviewed last April the L Bracket 44 is a pre-assembled package of the Hejnar Universal L Bracket Base 4 combined with the Hejnar Universal L Bracket Side 4.

I will continue mentioning in all my previews and reviews concerning universal L brackets, that there are both advantages and disadvantages in choosing a universal L bracket instead of a Custom / Dedicated L bracket.

A custom L bracket appears to be the best solution, since it is designed to fit like a glove on a specific camera model, providing anti-twist ridges or convex edges and allowance of access to battery and/or connector doors. What used to be the only drawback in the past was their higher price.

Either because there is no custom made L bracket for a camera, being it an older or not popular model, or frequent exchange of camera bodies that require different L brackets for each one, may be a good reason for acquiring a Universal L Bracket.

So let's see how the Hejnar universal L Bracket 44 copes with anti-twist and fitting issues.

The L Bracket

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:L Bracket 44
Length:10.16 cm (4.0")
Height:7.78 cm (3.065")
Width:3.81 cm (1.50")
Thickness:0.95 cm (0.375")
Weight:100 gr ( 3.53 oz)
Captive Mounting Slots:6 x 1/4"-20
Safety Stop Screws:2 x M3
Strap Loop:Yes
Color:Black hard coat anodized
Material:6061-T6 Aluminium C.N.C. machined
Made in :USA

Hejnar Photo Universal Modular L Bracket 44 - angled-rear view
As all Hejnar Photo products the L Bracket 44 is precision CNC machined from solid 6061-T6 Aluminum blocks and is hard coat anodized in a glossy black color.
The Base 4 plate has a full length dovetail. With a length of 4.0" (101.6 mm) is mostly suitable to large cameras like Canon 1D series or Nikon DnX series as well as large gripped cameras where the battery door will not be blocked by its size.
Six parallel captive slots at 0.375" (9.52 mm) increments allow centering the bracket base back-forth (into the same slot) or laterally (by picking another slot) on the camera bottom even if the tripod socket is placed off center at the bottom of the camera or battery grip as is the case with some battery grips.
Further, the existence of six captive slots permits the positioning of the L side away from the camera body in order give access to the side connectors, either to connect to your computer for tethered shooting or simply insert a remote cable release but requires complete unscrewing of the base plate (more details further down).
Hejnar Photo Universal Modular L Bracket 44 - base plate end view
A strap mounting loop is present at the end of the Base plate, enabling the attachment of a wrist strap.
Hejnar Photo Universal Modular L Bracket 44 - L side plate view
The L Bracket 44 vertical Side is attached on the Base plate via a long M4 hex-socket screw and aligned by two dowel pins, forming the full L bracket. The elongated but reinforced L side 4 may be removed at will, either to leave some weight behind or just to free the access to the camera side connectors if needed.
Hejnar Photo Universal Modular L Bracket 44 - angled bottom view
An angled bottom view of the L bracket shows better the base plate characteristics, like the hollowed bottom recess in which run the six captive slots for the hex-socket mounting screw. Nonetheless, this is the first base of the universal L Base series that comes with two M3 safety stop screws pre-installed. It is also obvious that there are no safety stop screws on the vertical side plate.
Hejnar Photo Universal Modular L Bracket 44 - mounting screw detail
Hejnar Photo Universal Modular L Bracket 44 side plate fitting and mounting screw detail.
Hejnar Photo Universal Modular L Bracket 44 - components and tools
The Hejnar L Bracket 44 comes assembled, but as all Hejnar modular L Brackets the vertical plate may be removed very easily and operated as a simple base plate. The package includes: One universal Base 4, one universal Side 4, one 1/4"-20 hex-socket-cap captive style screw 1/4 inch long, one M4 long connecting screw with washer, two 5mm dowel pins, two M3 safety stop screws and the appropriate Allen hex keys for the included screws. All screws and pins are made of chromed stainless-steel.

Mounting the L Bracket on a Camera
Since this is a universal L bracket intended for a larger and Gripped DSLR, like the Canon EOS 7D, I had to consider the available side plate and base plate size options when ordering.
The side plate model was easier to choose as it was determined by the camera side + battery grip height.
However, choosing the right base plate model was somewhat a more complicated task since the tripod socket on the battery grip bottom is offset both sideways and forward in relevance to the tripod socket at the camera bottom which is positioned exactly on the axis passing from the lens center.

Canon BG-E7 Battery Grip tripod socket positioning

I had two options, either to order a base plate with a long captive slot like the L Bracket Base 3, which would allow easy shift away from the camera side for tethered shooting but with an awkward forward positioning, or one with parallel slots like the L Bracket Base 4, which would allow shifting the base plate backwards but still be able to relocate the L Bracket away from the camera side for USB cables and/or remote release cables to be used in portrait orientation.

Hejnar L Bracket 44 on Gripped Canon EOS 7D - Bottom view Flush
Shown above, is L Bracket 44 (i.e. Base 4 Side 4) mounted on a Canon EOS 7D + Battery Grip with the side plate sitting flush against the camera side. The base plate is mounted via a 1/4"-20 captive screw in the 4th slot from the left, shifted all the way back. Neither the battery loading door of the Grip, nor the strap loop at the bottom are blocked.
Hejnar L Bracket 44 on Gripped Canon EOS 7D - Bottom view shifted
Unfortunately,in order to position the L bracket 44 away from the camera side, the Base 4 plate needs to be unscrewed completely, the mounting screw needs to be passed through another slot and finally screwed back on the battery grip in the new position.
Using the last slot to mount the L Bracket as shown above, the Side 4 plate allows enough clearance for Remote Release and USB or HDMI cable plugs.

However, using the last slots, is not the strong point of this L Bracket Base. In absence of any anti-twist mechanism -like a ridge or convex edge- the mounting screw can not disperse enough pressure on all of the base surface. Considering the longer part acting as a lever, it is prone to twist under the application of external forces with normal lenses.
I.e. the base plate will not twist due to a medium heavy zoom lens mounted on the camera in portrait orientation, but if it is pushed by hand for adjustment on a semi-tightened ball head it will.
Same will happen if a longer telephoto lens is attached, since now the center of gravity moves farther away from the camera base.



Using the L Bracket
In the following illustrations we can see how the camera can be clamped in an Arca-Swiss® compatible quick release clamp, as well as that by shifting the L Bracket away from the camera side we have enough clearance for a USB plug and/or a Remote Release cable, in order to use it in both landscape and portrait orientations.

Hejnar L Bracket 44 on Gripped Canon EOS 7D - Landscape Flush
The Hejnar Universal Modular L bracket 44 mounted on a Gripped Canon EOS 7D with the side plate positioned flush against the camera side, clamped in landscape orientation.
Hejnar L Bracket 44 on Gripped Canon EOS 7D - Portrait Flush
The Hejnar Universal Modular L bracket 44 mounted on a Gripped Canon EOS 7D with the side plate positioned flush against the camera side, clamped in portrait orientation.
Hejnar L Bracket 44 on Gripped Canon EOS 7D - Landscape shifted
The Hejnar Universal Modular L bracket 44 mounted on a Gripped Canon EOS 7D with the side plate positioned away from the camera side, clamped in landscape orientation.
Hejnar L Bracket 44 on Gripped Canon EOS 7D - Portrait shifted
The Hejnar Universal Modular L bracket 44 mounted on a Gripped Canon EOS 7D with the side plate positioned away from the camera side, clamped in portrait orientation.
Hejnar L Bracket 44 on Gripped Canon EOS 7D - shifted with cable plugs
When the Hejnar L bracket 44 is mounted with the side plate positioned away from the camera side there is enough clearance for a normal size mini-USB cable and an angled Remote Release cable to be plugged in the side connectors either in landscape or even clamped in portrait orientation.
Hejnar L Bracket 44 on Gripped Canon EOS 7D -clamped on slide w/ flash bracket
Pictured above is the Hejnar L Bracket 44 mounted on the Gripped Canon EOS 7D as part of Flash Bracket Rig described in detail in the Desmond DAFB-01 Arca Compatible Flash Bracket Review

Detailed Drawings
For a better evaluation, I have included here the base and side plate drawings, so you may calculate whether the dimensions are appropriate for your camera.

Hejnar PHOTO Universal L Bracket Base 4 drawing
L Base 4 drawing with exact dimensions (Click to enlarge).
Hejnar PHOTO Universal L Bracket Side 4 drawing
L Side4 drawing with exact dimensions (Click to enlarge further).

Pros
Versatile universal solution for many different camera models.
Very good machining and fitting.
Very good finishing and hard coat anodizing.
Excellent strength and torsional behavior.
Very good value for money.

Cons
As a universal L bracket the alignment of the lens centering marks are not precise.
The base plate has not so effective traction when mounted via the far end slots.
Needs unscrewing of base plate in order to be relocated far from the camera side.
Lack of  safety stop screws on the vertical side plate may be an issue for some users.

Conclusion
The L bracket 44 being a member of a larger family of universal bases and sides, as I had mentioned in the Modular Hejnar Photo Universal Camera L Brackets Preview, is quite versatile. Since besides permitting the removal of the L side when not needed, it also allows a choice between different bases and sides when a need arises in the future.
The user may combine many L bracket Base plates for different cameras bodies with one L bracket Side to be used when needed on each one, or have one L bracket Base plate with two different L bracket Sides switching between a gripped or non gripped operation of the camera.
The specific combination of Base 4 with Side 4 forming the L Bracket 44 in discussion, is a good choice for large size or gripped DSLRs equipped with a tripod mounting hole at an offset position to the lens optical axis.
On the other hand the prospective user, before coming to a purchase decision, should take into consideration all pros and cons in combination to how these would apply on his/her particular gear and needs.

I hope you found the article and ideas useful, thank you for viewing.
Drawings by courtesy of Hejnar Photo © Chris Hejnar
All Photos: © 2014-2015 S.C.Vlachos

Price and Availability:
Total price of the Universal L Bracket 44 is US$ 110.00  (+Shipping where applicable) which is the sum of its components L Bracket Base 4 US$ 45.00 and L Bracket Side 4 US$ 65.00 while both are available from Hejnar Photo Store as all other matching Universal L Bracket Components.

If you are interested in the products, do check the Recommended Sellers page for a valid Hejnar Photo discount coupon before ordering.

Referenced Articles:
New Modular Hejnar PHOTO Universal Camera L Bracket
Desmond DAFB-01 Arca Compatible Flash Bracket Review

Relevant Articles:
Hejnar Photo Universal Modular L Bracket 22 Review

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