November 22, 2012

Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal Quick Release Clamp Review

Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal Quick Release Clamp in transport foam
For the past two years or so, Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal Quick Release Clamp has been the indispensable companion to all Sunwayfoto indexing rotators, panning clamps and leveling bases.
This is actually the reason I purchased a couple last summer, one combined with the DDP-64MX indexing rotator and one single for the DDP-64SX.

Nevertheless, its circular (discal) design finds a lot more applications in the photography support world, proving most convenient for monopods with large top mounting plates like the Manfrotto's and / or ball heads like the Arca-Swiss® P-0.

The Package & Contents

Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal QR Clamp box top window
The clamp comes in a nice shrink wrapped display box which ensures that the product has not been opened after it left the factory. The clamp is visible through a transparent plastic window on the top side...
Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal QR Clamp box bottom window
While on the bottom side a card with product specification, a short description and a bar-code, is visible through another transparent window.
Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal QR Clamp in transport foam
The DDY-64 Discal QR clamp together with screws and tools are nested in a pre-cut foam piece that keeps them safely in place for transportation.
Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal QR Clamp box contents
The feeling when removing the QR clamp from the box is once again of high quality fitting and finishing. Its companions are one 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 pre-installed in the center hole.

The Clamp

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:DDY-64 Discal QR Clamp
Diameter:64 mm
Height:15,5 mm
Length:107 mm
Clamp Type:Long Screw Knob
Bottom mounting thread:3/8"-16 UNC
Weight:120 gr

Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal QR Clamp top - bushing removed
The quick release clamp is hard coat anodized in black matte color. 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 47 mm, total width is 107 mm due to the long shaft knob and it is 15 mm thick. There are 2 cm long decimal scales on both jaws, the first cm closer to the center is marked in 1 mm increments and then in 2,5 mm increments, with numbers every 1 cm from 0 to 10 counting outwards. Embedded on the steady jaw exists a small but clearly visible bubble level which is also very accurate.
There are two safety-stop screw relief grooves 4 mm deep, one at each side, permitting a motion of 19 mm either side into the clamp, for better camera/lens plate alignment. Within the safety relief grooves and 50 mm apart from each other exist two captive holes for the 1/4"-20 bolts intended for mounting the clamp on Sunwayfoto bases and rotators.
Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal QR Clamp bottom - bushing removed
The clamp's bottom side is completely flat showing a little the age of the clamp as it does not match the recent Sunwayfoto design with deep carvings in order to remove excess material thus lowering the weight.
Besides the usual anti-twist groove for ball head alignment across the center hole, the two holes for mounting on other Sunwayfoto gear are evident. All at the same axis of the longitudinal middle of the clamp.

Mounting on a Ball Head

Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal QR Clamp w/ XB-44 LP Ball head +screw + hex key
A discal QR clamp with a long knob shaft may prove convenient for many applications. DDY-64 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.
Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal QR Clamp on XB-44 LP Ball head
DDY-64 is a sturdy clamp and good match for ball heads capable of holding heavy loads like the Sunwayfoto XB-44 Low Profile Ball Head pictured above.

Mounting on Sunwayfoto DDP-64 series Indexing Rotator(s)
As mentioned in the beginning DDY-64 has been the dedicated companion to Sunwayfoto Panoramic Indexing Rotators for the past years, offering them the versatility of quick mounting/dismounting Arca-Swiss® compatible panoramic rails.

Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal QR Clamp on DDP-64MX & DDP-64SX Panoramic Indexing rotators + tools
There are two ways one can mount DDY-64 on top of the Sunwayfoto DDP-64 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 platform (More in the Sunwayfoto DDP-64SX Panoramic Indexing Rotator Review). Therefore it's more preferable to use the two (also included) 1/4"-20 bolts and the 5 mm Allen hex key to screw and secure the clamp on the rotators' top. The existing 1/4"-20 threaded holes on the rotators will align and secure the clamp perfectly.

Mounting on Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base
Using the DDY-64 clamp on Sunwayfoto Indexing rotators is a common and proposed practice since their release. Although DYH-66i leveling base is equipped with the appropriate 1/4"-20 mounting holes, the combination with DDY-64 clamp has not been documented or at least has not come into my attention.
This combination increases the versatility of the leveling base when fast action is a prerequisite.
Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal QR Clamp w/ DYH-66i Leveling base + tools
Once again either using the conversion bushing or more preferably the two included 1/4"-20 bolts and the 5 mm Allen hex key the DDY-64 can be mounted on top of the Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base making it more versatile in mounting and dismounting further equipment on its top.
Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal QR Clamp on DYH-66i Leveling base
DDY-64 screwed and secured on DYH-66i. As a plus DDY-64's long shaft knob may prove quite useful in handling the leveling base during the leveling process.
Sunwayfoto DDY-64+DYH-66i on Triopo GX-1328 Tripod
DYH-66i leveling base combined with DDY-64 discal clamp on top of the Triopo GX-1328 Classic Carbon Fiber Tripod is ready to accept ...
Sunwayfoto DYH-66i+DDY-64 mounting DDP-64MX+DDY-64 example
... any gear equipped with an Arca-mount plate, like the Sunwayfoto DDP-64MX+DDY-64 Panoramic Indexing Rotator shown above. Fast and secure clamping without having to fiddle with small securing anti-twist screws.

Mounting on a Monopod

Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal QR clamp w/ Benro MA-96EX top plate
Either attaching the clamp directly via its 3/8"-16 threaded hole on a 3/8"-16 top-plate stud or by using the included 1/4"-20 conversion bushing on an 1/4"-20 stud; the circular / discal design of the DDY-64 QR clamp will prove most appropriate for the conversion of a monopod into an Arca-Swiss® compatible apparatus, with all the convenience this may signify.
Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal QR clamp on Benro MA-96EX monopod
As shown above on top of a Benro MA-96EX Monopod, the discal shaped clamp fits perfectly on the top plate of most tripods without any protruding angles that might become at least annoying as with rectangular shaped clamps. The fitting is especially appropriate for many older Manfrotto's and Gitzo's which have quite a larger diameter top plate.

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 DDY-64 discal quick release clamp is fully compatible and perfect match with Sunwayfoto's own gear.

On the other hand, in order to check its compatibility with other manufacturers plates and rails, DDY-64 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, but showing a small issue with 38 mm wide and 1/2" or 5/8" (16 mm) thick rails from Hejnar PHOTO and Benro.
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 Length47.00
Steady Jaw Height04.20
Moving Jaw Height04.20
Min Jaw Lip Opening33.90
Max Jaw Lip Opening37.41
Min Base Opening39.38
Max Base Opening43.94

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 within the average limits, consisting the clamp compatible with a large number of Arca-Swiss® type plates and rails.

Excellent machining, finishing, fitting and build quality.
Very good scratch proof anodizing.
Very smooth operation in all aspects.
Ecxellent value for money ratio.

A little on the heavy side compared to contemporary Sunwayfoto clamps (but not to other brands).
Clamp jaws are a little short for the dovetail edge radius of some 1/2" & 5/8" thick rails from other manufacturers.

Despite my comments about he weight above, which would not have been there if Sunwayfoto Engineers had not made such an effort to decrease the weight of their newer equipment, I consider DDY-64 a very sturdy and strong clamp.
By the release of the Sunwayfoto 2012 catalogue last September, I know that a new improved version is about to replace it but I would still recommend it for its sturdiness and the longer jaws that make me feel more secure when clamping heavier equipment.
The high standards of build quality for the price give an excellent value / money ratio.

Update: October 2012
Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL improved Discal Quick Release Clamp Released

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 DDY-64 is US$ 49.00 (+Shipping where applicable)
DDY-64 Discal clamp is no longer available being replaced by DDY-64iL Discal clamp which is available from Amazon or from eBay

Referenced Articles:

Sunwayfoto XB-44 Low Profile Ball Head Review

Sunwayfoto DDP-64SX Panoramic Indexing Rotator Review

Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base Review

Triopo GX-1328 Classic Carbon Fiber Tripod Review

Benro MA-96EX Monopod Review

Relevant Articles:

New Sunwayfoto 2012 Catalogue

Sunwayfoto DDP-64MX+DDY-64 Panoramic Indexing Rotator Review

Sunwayfoto Pano-3 Panorama Head Review

Create a Heavy Duty Multi Row Panorama Head

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