October 5, 2012

Desmond DAC-01 50mm Quick Release Clamp Review

Desmond DAC-01 50mm Quick Release Clamp
When the exception justifies the rule!

Whenever I see or  have to evaluate a low budget item, there is always a question in my mind. What were the compromises made to justify the low price?
Is it due to inferior quality materials, missing parts or functions, or serious design flows?
Somehow, it is reasonable to expect less from low priced products.

Then, when I received this small and low priced clamp, its robustness, excellent finishing and fitting, with very small tolerances, made me realize I was holding an exception in my hands.

The clamp
Manufacturer Specification:
Height:18.0 mm
Width with Screw Knob:83.0 mm
Jaw Length:50.0 mm (1.97")
Metal Converter:3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20
Weight:106 gr

Desmond DAC-01 QR Clamp w/ box & bushing
DAC-01 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-01 QR Clamp top view
When unpacking and holding DAC-01 in your hands you get the impression of a sturdy, very well machined and finished, quality product. So well finished, that as happened with the Desmond DBA-1 Bogen (Manfrotto) / Arca Clamp reviewed last month, if I weren't aware of the price tag, I would have though that it costs quite more. 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 and a countersunk hole in the center which is also threaded 3/8"-16.
In one of the grooves lies one clear bubble level, for those that need one. The 33mm long, captive screw knob is of one piece design, with a grooved surface for good handling even with gloves.

Desmond DAC-01 QR Clamp bottom view
The bottom is flat, equally well finished, with obvious now the center hole 3/8"-16 thread and the alignment/anti-twist grooves for certain types of ball heads.
The moving jaw tongues are classic in design, from end to end letting a small glimpse of the push-back springs when opened. The jaw opens and closes very smoothly via the screw knob, due to the very small tolerances and the thick silicone-grease.
Desmond DAC-01 QR Clamp bottom view w/ bushing installed
However, something that is not met with other QR clamps is that the center hole is also counter sunk at the bottom. This feature permits the insertion of the included thread conversion bushing from the bottom, so its flange will not protrude. In this way one can screw the clamp directly on an 1/4"-20 stud while simultaneously tightening the bushing.

Update Oct 2013
Desmond DAC-01 QR Clamp bottom view - updated
There was a minor change on recent batches of the DAC-01 QR clamp. The bottom cross type anti-twist grooves aside the center hole, now much the design of the other clamps in the Desmond family. With this type of anti-twist grooves the clamp may be rotated by 90 degrees on certain rails with anti-twist bosses, thus changing the orientation of the jaws accordingly.

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

Desmond DAC-01 QR Clamp w/ Triopo RS-3 ball head + M6 screw + hex key
...or in most cases simply by using an M6 or an 1/4"-20 flat head screw and an Allen hex key...
Desmond DAC-01 QR Clamp on Triopo RS-3 ball head
...the clamp is aligned and fixed in place.

Using with an Arca compatible plate.

Desmond DAC-01 QR Clamp on Triopo RS-3 ball head w/ centered Arca plate
The clamp can accept Arca compatible plates from 5cm long with M3 safety-screws attached, or even smaller without safety screws.
Desmond DAC-01 QR Clamp on Triopo RS-3 ball head w/ offset Arca plate
Thanks to the deep safety stop relief grooves the 6 cm plate pictured above can move in by 1 cm on each side for better alignment of the attached equipment.

Arca-Swiss® Compatibility
The DAC-01 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, showing a small issue with very narrow rails like the Kiwi fotos and 5/8" (16mm) thick rails from Benro and Hejnar PHOTO.
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-01 QR Clamp jaw dimension detail
The orange figures in the specs table are a little over 5 mm which is considered the middle of the dovetail V cut.
As shown in the picture above there will be no issue with standard 10 mm high plates but only with the ones that are thinner than 10 mm.
Clamp Jaw dimensions        mm
Jaw Length50.00
Steady Jaw Height05.93
Moving Jaw Height05.74
Min Jaw Lip Opening32.85
Max Jaw Lip Opening37.13
Min Base Opening38.85
Max Base Opening44.18

All other dimensions fall within the average limits, consisting the clamp compatible with a large number of Arca-Swiss® type plates and rails.
In regard of the 5/8" (16 mm) thick rails mentioned above, due to their different design dovetails, there might be an issue of the clamp jaw hitting the rail side. With a little manipulation the rails will be clamped but may cause a little frustration to some users.
However, 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. In order to be on the safe side, before recommending this clamp I conducted a load test.
I clamped a 5/8" thick rail on the DAC-01 in vertical orientation (perpendicular to the floor) and then hang from the rail slot a few sand sacks (which I use as balance or stabilizers for large boom stands) totaling 15 kg (33 lbs). Nothing moved, nothing slipped, rock solid.

I have contacted Desmond Photographic Distribution on the matter and was informed that they have pinpointed the issue, and that their engineer is working on it, so next batches will be even more compatible. 

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.
Accurate Bubble level included.

Slightly higher weight than average for the clamp size.
A small compatibility issue due to the jaws height.

Regarding the clamp's weight, is an acceptable fact since as I had explained in the Desmond DBA-1 Bogen (Manfrotto) / Arca Clamp Review, lowering the weigh by a few grams would involve extra machining and finishing time, which would subsequently rise the manufacturing cost substantially.
As for the clamp jaws height is not going to be an issue for the majority of camera plates and rails expected to be used with this clamp, not even with thick rails since the clamp jaws are strong enough to hold heavy gear. Nevertheless, I chose to mention the above, since I believe that positive criticism brings improvement, which in turn leads to perfection.
And I still believe this clamp is an exception if we consider its quality standards and the fact that it is targeted to the low-budget market segment, with a very low price tag.
As this is the third Desmond product reviewed, I realize that all of them have very good quality standards and offer excellent Value for Money !

Note : The DAC-01 Quick Release Clamp presented in this article was kindly offered by Desmond Photographic Distribution, USA, for evaluation and review.

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

Price & Availability:
Current price for the DAC-01 is US$ 24.95  16.95 and is available from Amazon or from eBay

Relevant Articles:

Desmond DBA-1 Bogen (Manfrotto) / Arca Clamp Review

Desmond DAC-02 60mm Quick Release Clamp Review

Desmond DAC-04 Arca/Slidefix Quick Release Clamp Review

Desmond DTR-1 Tripod Reducer Review


  1. Knowing the height issue, has the problem been fixed during the two years since this review? Will this clamp work with the Sunwayfoto DP-50 since it is 9mm thick?

    1. Although the Sunwayfoto DP-50 is 9mm thick its dovetail height is still 5 mm. It will work with a little higher jaws, but I would not recommend. Better use with Desmond DAC-X1 or DLVC-50 clamps instead.