November 27, 2012

Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal Quick Release Clamp Review

Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal Quick Release Clamp
Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal Quick Release Clamp was officially introduced in Photokina 2012 and released in the market in the end of September 2012.
L in the end of the model name stands for Long as it is a variation of the also brand new DDY-64i (i = improved) Discal QR clamp but with a longer shaft screw knob.
As mentioned in the New Sunwayfoto 2012 Catalogue it is especially designed to complement the updated DYH-90 series of Leveling Bases.

Nevertheless, as I have mentioned in the review of its predecessor Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal Quick Release Clamp, the circular (discal) design finds a lot more applications in the photography support world, proving most convenient for monopods with large top mounting plates like Gitzo® GM5541 or GM5542 and/or ball heads like the Arca-Swiss® P-0.

The Package & Contents

Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal QR Clamp box - shrink wrapped
The clamp comes shrink wrapped which ensures that the product has not been opened after it left 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 label bears the Quality Control stamp.
Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal QR Clamp in transport foam
The DDY-64iL 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-64iL Discal QR Clamp box contents
The DDY-64iL meets the high quality fitting and finishing Sunwayfoto standards. Its companions are one M6 screw for ball head mounting, two short 1/4"-20 flat-head screws for mounting on Sunwayfoto leveling bases or panoramic indexing rotators and one 4 mm Allen hex key both for the M6 screw and for the short flat-head screws. There is also a 1/4"-20 to 3/8"-16 thread conversion bushing, which was pre-installed in the center hole as shown in the previous photo.

The Clamp

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:DDY-64iL Discal QR Clamp
Diameter:64 mm
Length:102 mm
Height:15.5 mm
Mounting thread:3/8"-16 UNC
Clamp Type:Long Screw Knob
Weight:86 gr

Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal QR Clamp side-top view
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 32 mm, total width is 102 mm due to the long shaft knob and it is 15.5 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 counter-sunk holes for the 1/4"-20 short flat-head screws intended for mounting the clamp on Sunwayfoto bases and rotators.
Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal QR Clamp side-bottom view
The clamp's bottom side follows the latest Sunwayfoto design with very deep carving in order to remove any excess material possible, 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.
The long shaft screw knob is made of aluminium CNC carved also with deep grooves for a better grip and long lasting operation.

Comparison with DDY-64i and DDY-64 Discal QR Clamps

Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL vs DDY-64 & DDY-64i QR clamps
There is not much difference between the DDY-64i and DDY-64iL Discal QR Clamps other than the screw knob shaft length. Otherwise the clamps are identical. On the other hand there are quite many obvious differences between the former DDY-64 and DDY-64iL. First of all the shortened jaws from 47 to 32 mm, then the deep grooved screw knob and finally all the carvings on both top and bottom that lead to a decrease in weight by 34 gr!
Another difference between DDY-64 and DDY-64iL, may be found in the mounting screw holes and mounting screw type. DDY-64 has captive holes matched with bolt screws, while DDY-64iL comes with counter-sunk holes and shorter, thus lighter, flat-head screws.

Mounting on a Ball Head

Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL 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-64iL 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 pictured above.
Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal QR clamp on XB-44 LP Ball head
DDY-64iL besides the shortened jaws and the deep carvings is elaborately designed and remains sturdy enough to clamp and hold heavy loads. My doubts about the short jaws were dissolved after conducting a small test with the even smaller DDH-02 Panning Clamp reviewed a few months ago. DDY-64iL is a good match for large but low weight ball heads capable of holding large and heavy gear. 

Mounting on Sunwayfoto Indexing Rotator(s)
However the perfect match for DDY-64iL are the Sunwayfoto Panoramic Indexing Rotators, since it replaces DDY-64 which was their companion for the past years. It offers them the extra versatility of quick mounting/dismounting Arca-Swiss® compatible plates or rails.

Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal QR clamp w/ DDP-64SX Indexing rotator + screws + hex key
There are two ways one can mount DDY-64iL on top of the Sunwayfoto DDP-64 series 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 DDY-64iL Discal QR clamp on DDP-64SX Indexing rotator
Therefore it's more preferable to use the two (also included) 1/4"-20 short flat-head screws and the 4 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 Leveling Bases

Using the DDY-64 series of clamps on Sunwayfoto Indexing rotators is a common and proposed practice since their release. Since DYH-66i leveling base is equipped with the appropriate 1/4"-20 mounting holes, the combination with DDY-64iL will increase the versatility of the leveling base when fast action is a prerequisite.

Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal QR clamp w/ DYH-66i leveling base + screws + hex key
Once again either using the conversion bushing or more preferably the two included 1/4"-20 short flat-head screws and the 4 mm Allen hex key the DDY-64iL 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-64iL Discal QR clamp on DYH-66i leveling base
DDY-64iL screwed and secured on DYH-66i. As a plus DDY-64iL's long shaft knob may prove quite useful in handling the leveling base during the leveling process.

However, the DDY-64iL Dical QR Clamp owes somehow its existence (especially the L that denotes the long shaft knob), to the purpose of offering a partner 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 control the clamp unobtrusively.

Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal QR clamp w/ DYH-90 leveling base + screws + hex key
Due to the high load bearing capacity of the DYH-90 Leveling Base, DDY-64iL should be mounted on top of the Base via the two included 1/4"-20 short flat-head screws and the 4 mm Allen hex key.
Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal QR clamp on DYH-90 leveling base
DDY-64iL screwed and secured on DYH-90. As fore mentioned DDY-64iL's long shaft knob may help in the leveling base adjustment during the leveling process. (More details in the upcoming DYH-90 and DYH-90R Leveling Base Reviews).

Mounting on a Monopod

Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL 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-64iL 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-64iL Discal quick release clamp is fully compatible with Sunwayfoto's own gear.

On the other hand, in order to check its compatibility with other manufacturers plates and rails, DDY-64iL 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 Length32.02
Steady Jaw Height04.15
Moving Jaw Height04.10
Min Jaw Lip Opening33.94
Max Jaw Lip Opening37.32
Min Base Opening39.50
Max Base Opening44.60

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.
Very low weight for the size.
Excellent value for money ratio.

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

Following the late trend in all Sunwayfoto equipment, with any excess weight eliminated, DDY-64iL is another great example of design and CNC machining. It seems to win over competition, in strength, compactness and weight.
A very good option for Sunwayfoto Indexing rotators and a must for the Sunwayfoto DYH series of Leveling bases in order to ensure their Arca-Swiss® compatibility. But not only, as DDY-64iL's shape, size and particularly the low weight, make it a great option for many ball heads and monopods.
The high standards of build quality for the price give an excellent value / money ratio.

Note :
The DDY-64iL Discal 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 DDY-64i / DDY-64iL QR clamps is US$ 49.00 39.95 and are available either from Amazon.or from eBay worldwide

Referenced Articles:

Sunwayfoto XB-44 Low Profile Ball Head Review

Sunwayfoto DDH-02 Compact Panning Clamp Review

Sunwayfoto DDP-64SX Panoramic Indexing Rotator Review

Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base Review

Sunwayfoto DYH-90 Leveling Base Review

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R Leveling Base Review

Benro MA-96EX Monopod Review

Relevant Articles:

Sunwayfoto DDY-58 Discal Quick Release Clamp Review

Sunwayfoto DDY-64i Discal Quick Release Clamp Review

Sunwayfoto DDY-64 Discal Quick Release Clamp Review

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


  1. Concise, useful review. Thanks. Buying a clamp for an Arca-Swiss P0, and found your comparison especially helpful.

    1. Thanks for kind comment. Glad you found the review helpful.