December 3, 2012

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R Leveling Base Review

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R Leveling Base+DLC-60L Duo QR clamp combo overview
Based on the sturdy Sunwayfoto DYH-90 Leveling Base, DYH-90R represents one of its variations equipped with a heavy duty panning top platform, thus the R at the end of the model name.
Although it is a variation it may stand as a different model by itself for review, since the panning top platform adds another dimension to the leveling base, expanding its functionality and making it most appropriate for use with large format cameras.

Here we shall also examine, if the there is any influence to the leveling base characteristic, by the added height of the panning top.
As a variation of DYH-90 many texts of this review may sound similar as they are borrowed from the DYH-90 Leveling base review at the points these two bases are identical.

The Package & Contents

Much like the DYH-90, the DYH-90R Leveling Base I received for evaluation, was also a combo with the new Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo Lever / Knob Quick Release Clamp which is reviewed separately in detail. As  all combos it offers quite some saving if the clamp is also needed.

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R+DLC-60L Duo clamp combo box
The Leveling Base comes in a recycled-carton box as all Sunwayfoto products released after a point in 2012; shrink wrapped which ensures that the product has not been opened after it left the factory.
Sunwayfoto DYH-90R+DLC-60L Duo clamp combo box contents
The DYH-90R Leveling Base (here combined with DLC-60L Duo QR Clamp) travels in the box within a thick foam padding, with all the accompanying documents and accessories in separate zip-lock nylon bags.

A credit card sized warranty Card is included with the DYH-90R leveling base, stating Model and Serial Number and a "Customer Information Card" for use together with the Warranty card in case of applying for a warranty claim.
As I always point out for Sunwayfoto gear, keep in mind that Sunwayfoto offers a 5 year limited warranty extension, for certain products upon registration in their website, within one month from the date of purchase.
Further, an 1/4"-20 ~ 3/8"16 top mounting conversion bushing (not shown in picture above) together with an Allen hex wrench, are also found in the box.

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R warranty & customer cards + hex key
A credit card sized warranty Card and a "Customer Information Card" are included among other things.

Pictured below are the "Operating Instructions" fan-fold leaflet, sitting on top of the Sunwayfoto microfiber Cleaning Clothe. The instructions are basic but adequate to set up and maintain the leveling base. However, the operating instructions are addressed to older DYH-120 and DYH-66 leveling base models but while exactly the same in regard of the  basic operating principle, in the case of DYH-90R there is no documentation about the Top Panning Platform.
As mentioned in the DYH-90 review, I was informed that Sunwayfoto is in the process of printing and electronically publishing new operating instruction leaflets for all their new products, more descriptive and detailed.

Sunwayfoto operating instructions & cleaning cloth
An "Operating Instructions" fan-fold leaflet, sitting on top of the Sunwayfoto microfiber Cleaning Clothe.

The Leveling Base
Manufacturer Specification:
Platform Diameter:90 mm
Base Diameter76 mm
Height::60 mm
Bottom mounting thread: 3/8"-16 UNC
Top mounting stud:1/4"-20 UNC
Weight:642 gr*
Max Load capacity:> 30 kg (66 lbs)

*Verified weight on electronic scales: 689 gr stand alone,
781 gr w/ DDY-64iL and 812 gr w/ DLC-60L mounted.

As mentioned in the beginning DYH-90R came as a combo with the DLC-60L Duo Lever/Knob QR Clamp. The usual Sunwayfoto sturdy structure with a very fine and high quality CNC machining and finishing. All aluminum parts are hard coat anodized in a satin black color with only accents of the stainless-steel stud, the panning lock knob, the screws and base lock-knob shaft. At first look, the quite large Lever Lock-knob protruding from the side of the base and the also large removable bubble level, attached on the perimeter of the top mounting platform and the chromed panning lock knob are standing out. On the leveling base front side there is the laser engraving of the Sunwayfoto logo and the model name in white.
For a thorough check and testing the base was stripped down into individual components and their small parts. DYH-90R Leveling Base with top reducer bushing and bottom reducer busing (not shown); DLC-60L Duo Lever/Knob QR Clamp with its two short hex-socket bolt screws and the matching 5mm Allen hex key.

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R w/ DLC-60L Duo QR clamp removed + screws + hex key
The DYH-90R individual components and their small parts with DLC-60L Duo Lever/Knob QR Clamp aside.

The half-ball is controlled via a large off-center ratcheted Lever Lock-Knob extending out from the side of the mounting base. The Lever knob is all metal, spring-loaded, capping a stainless-steel shaft that actually controls the Leveling Base locking mechanism. If in any case the rotation of the Lever lock-knob is blocked or it interferes with other equipment stopping its travel (upper left photo below) it may be easily pulled out until the internal hex nut is revealed (larger right photo below) and relocated in one of the 12 possible positions that proves more convenient (lower left photo below).

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R lever lock-knob positioning
The half-ball control via a large ratcheted off-center Lever Lock-Knob explained.
Sunwayfoto DYH-90R lever lock-knob travel range
The large Lever lock-knob needs only half a turn from the "loose" to the "tightly locked" position.
Sunwayfoto DYH-90R tilted right
The verified* ability of DYH-66i to tilt +16° or ...
Sunwayfoto DYH-90R tilted left
... -16° degrees, permits leveling of a tripod head in almost any terrain whichever the tripod leg angles may be.
While, on the other hand gives a clear advantage to the DYH-90R over the competition.

*Tilting to 16° was verified with an electronic inclinometer.

The Top Panning Platform

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R top panning platform detail

Improvements over the previous version

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R original leveling base
Original DYH-90R Leveling Base.
Photo by courtesy of
As discussed with the DYH-90 the most obvious differences between the current DYH-90R and the original DYH-90R on the left, are:
The 3/8"-16 top mounting stud which has been exchanged with an 1/4"-20 one for compatibility with more equipment;
The two pairs of threaded mounting holes in two distances between the holes, enabling the mounting of a selection of quick release clamps on the top platform.
And last, the large Lever lock-knob which by its longer grip permits the application of greater force to the half-ball immobilization mechanism, thus enhancing the base's load bearing capacity with less effort from the user.
In the same manner, the invisible but felt changes are the improvements in the weight and the internal lubrication which lead in better yet far smoother handling of the leveling base.

Sunwayfoto DYH-90B and DYH-80A w/ integral lever clamp
Intermediate versions of Sunwayfoto DYH-90B and DYH-80A equipped with integral DLC-60 lever clamps.
Photo by courtesy of

Comparison with the Competition

The table below shows a comparison of Sunwayfoto DYH-90R leveling base with leveling bases of similar characteristics and price range coming from well known brands. However, the comparison stands only for the leveling function as it is the only one with a Top Panning Platform.

Manufacturer: SunwayfotoSunwayfotoAcratechManfrottoRRS
Platform ∅:90 mm /2.60"90 mm /2.60"74 mm /2.90"-- mm73 mm /2.9"
Base ∅:76 mm /2.37"60 mm /2.37"60 mm /2.37"-- mm73 mm /2.9"
Height:50 mm /1.97"60 mm /2.36"46 mm /1.80"50 mm /1.97"68 mm /2.7"
Bottom thread:3/8"-16* 3/8"-16* 1/4"-20 3/8"-16 3/8"-16 
Top stud:1/4"-20* 1/4"-20*1/4"-20 / 3/8"-163/8"-16 3/8"-16
Weight:524 gr / 1.15 lb 642 gr /1.41 oz295 gr /10.4 oz650 gr /22.9oz338 gr /11.6 oz
Max Load :30.0kg / 66 lbs30.0kg / 66 lbs11.4 kg / 25 lbs15.0 kg / 33 lbs16.0 kg / 35 lbs

*Convertible via 1/4"-20 to 3/8"-16 bushing

Mounting on a Tripod

The bottom view, shows the sturdy structure of the base with concentric grooves, the "Made in China" logo and the Leveling Base serial number which reside in one of the concentric grooves.

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R bottom view w/ bushing installed
DYH-90R comes preinstalled with a base mount 1/4"-20 ~ 3/8"-16 thread conversion bushing in the base 3/8"-16 mounting hole. In this way it may be mounted either on tripods equipped with an 1/4"-20 top mounting stud...
Sunwayfoto DYH-90R bottom view w/ bushing removed
... or by removing the bushing, on the top platform of tripods equipped with a 3/8"-16 mounting stud.

Combined with DDY-64iL Discal QR Clamp

The Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal Quick Release Clamp (L denotes the long shaft knob) was especially designed to offer 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 no other clamp but one with a long shaft knob would be able to be controlled unobtrusively.

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R w/ DDY-64iL QR clamp + screws & hex key
Due to the high load bearing capacity of the DYH-90R Leveling Base, DDY-64iL should be mounted on the top platform of the Base via the two included 1/4"-20 short flat-head screws...
Sunwayfoto DYH-90 - DDY-64iL QR clamp installation
...and tightened well by the 4 mm Allen hex key included with the clamp.
Sunwayfoto DYH-90R w/ DDY-64iL QR clamp installed
DDY-64iL screwed and secured on DYH-90R. As fore mentioned DDY-64iL's long shaft knob may help in the control of the leveling base during the level adjustment process.

Nonetheless, DYH-90R may be purchased as a combo with DDY-64iL preinstalled at the factory.

Combined with DLC-60L Duo Lever/Knob QR Clamp

Same story goes for the Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo Lever / Knob Quick Release Clamp (L denotes the long shaft knob) which owes its existence for the same purpose but addressing a different user group. DLC-60L being equipped with both a Lever Release and a screw knob is most appropriate for fast action with frequent interchange of equipment on top of the leveling base.

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R w/ DLC-60L Duo QR clamp + screws & hex key
Once again the high load bearing capacity of the DYH-90 Leveling Base, requires that the DLC-60L be mounted on its top platform via the two included 1/4"-20 hex-socket bolt screws.
Sunwayfoto DYH-90R w/ DLC-60L Duo QR clamp installed
DLC-60L screwed and secured on DYH-90R Leveling Base. DLC-60L's long shaft knob may be utilized in the leveling base adjustment during the leveling process.

Torque Test Results

Since Sunwayfoto DYH-90R is moving in two dimensions, the torque test should be twofold measuring the locking ability of both the base and the panning platform individually.
However, at this moment the load test is available below.

The number included in the model name DYH-90R, implies both the diameter of the top mounting platform but also the diameter of the half ball that bears all the weight undertaking the leveling task. Therefore, considering the ball diameter the declared maximum load of 30 kg by the manufacturer is quite preservative as we can see further down.
Sunwayfoto DYH-90/DYH-90R ball diameter
The model name DYH-90R, implies both the diameter of the top mounting platform but also the diameter of the half ball.

In order to get an approximation of the mass required to move this big 90 mm ball from inertia when fully locked, I bolted the DYH-90R equipped with the DLC-60L duo screw knob/lever release clamp on a workbench, using a stainless steel 3/8"-16 bolt.

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R bolted on workbench
The DYH-90R equipped with the DLC-60L duo screw knob/lever release clamp bolted on a workbench.

Next thing to do was to level the base and tighten its lock knob as much as possible by hand. Quite obvious in the photo above a 10" rail and an 8" rail were bound together with another rail from below, creating a 18" long rail in order to measure the torque capacity of the leveling base. Although I have made more precise devices to measure torque in the past, I decided that a simplified rough estimate is enough to give the reader an idea of what the leveling base is capable of.

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R on workbench w/ elongated rail
The DYH-90R leveled and tightened by its lock knob ready to withstand its torture.

My usual counter balance sand bag of 5 kg was not enough for this leveling base. As with its sibling the DYH-90 I had to add a second heavier sand bag of 7 kg. After some experimentation the ~12.5 kg weight of the two bags + rails + carabiners etc. could still hang safely at a distance of 40 cm from the center of the quick release clamp, which denotes the pivoting axis of the leveling base.
The stress on the rails by the torque generated by this weight is evident from their bending shown below. But nonetheless, such a result means that the leveling base can withstand a torque of ~500 kgF*cm (~ 4905 N*cm). By deduction this could mean a load of ~41.6 kg with its center of gravity at a distance of 12 cm (4.7") from the pivot center (Gitzo method) or even more than 100 kg on top of the leveling base.

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R under load
The stress on the rails by the torque generated by this weight is evident from their bending shown above. But nonetheless, the leveling base can withstand a torque of ~500 kgF*cm (~ 4905 N*cm). 
Based on the forementioned stress results, quite favorable conclusions can also be drawn for the capacity of the top platform rotator but also for the quick release clamp jaws!

Mounting Heavy Gear

Much like its sibling DYH-90, the DYH-90R is basically intended to hold big size and heavy equipment , yet its Top Panning Platform makes it ideal for medium-format 6 X 6, 6 X 7 or large format 8 X 10 cameras.

Sunwayfoto DYH-90R top stud & conversion bushing
The DYH-90R Leveling base comes with an 1/4"-20 ~ 3/8"-16 conversion bushing pre-installed on its top mounting stud, when purchased alone or in-the-box when purchased as a bundle with DLC-60L Duo or DDY-64iL QR clamps.
Sunwayfoto DYH-90R w/ conversion bushing installed
In this way any gear with either an 1/4"-20 or 3/8"-16 mounting socket can be mounted directly on the large top panning platform of the leveling base.

Using the Leveling Base

Besides other uses that a larger leveling base equipped with a panning platform, one that it really proves ideal for, is to support a large format cameras.
Large format cameras are quite sizable and far more heavy compared to DSLRs, usually used for Landscape or Architectural photography. They need to be leveled and pan without level readjustment.

And what about a 3D Laser scanner like the FARO Focus 3D illustrated below? That's where exactly Sunwayfoto DYH-90R comes into use. Absolute rigidity and stability, with leveled panning for the sizable 5 kg scanner.
FARO Focus 3D scanner on Sunwayfoto DYH-90R
FARO Focus 3D scanner clamped on Sunwayfoto DYH-90R Panning Leveling Base equipped with QR clamp

Since Besides the Panning Top Platform DYH-90 and DYH-90R are identical please refer to the Sunwayfoto DYH-90 Leveling Base Review for more implementation examples.

Innovative and original design ideal for low level shooting.
Exceptional machining, finishing, fitting and build quality.
Over 30kg load bearing capacity, outperforming competition.
Compact size and low weight for its class.
Great stability and vibration absorption.
Very smooth panning and ball operation at all angles.
Good value for money ratio.
5 year limited warranty extension upon registration.

A little excessive lubrication that may smear your hands and consequently anything you touch carelessly.
Not suggested for small size and / or low weight gear.

My conclusions stand the same as with its sibling model DYH-90 also reviewed. However, the large Panning top Platform would really be useful to heavy duty equipment, like medium to large format Cameras or heavy video rigs. Somehow as mentioned in the Cons above this is no gear for amateur use mostly intended to pros with specific needs.
Considering the tremendous strength of the DYH-90R based on the torque test results it is Highly Recommended for weight lifting!

Note : 
The updated DYH-90R Leveling Base presented in this article was kindly offered by Desmond Photographic Distribution, USA, for evaluation and review.

This review and test was run on a single product sample, based on the specifically described methods. Although the findings are good and some overcame the expectations for the product, it can not be used as a rule, unless more samples of the same product are tested. Furthermore, similar comparison tests should be run with comparative capabilities products so as to reach a solid conclusion.

I hope you found the article and ideas useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: © 2012-2015 S.C.Vlachos

Price & Availability:
Current price for the DYH-90R Series Leveling Bases  are greatly  US$ 214.00, for DYH-90R+DDY-64iL is US$ 253.00 and for DYH-90R+DLC-60L is US$ 273.00 All models are available from

Update May 2017
Current prices and availability of the Sunwayfoto DYH-90Ri Series of Leveling Bases are greatly reduced. They are still available from Amazon and from eBay worldwide.

Referenced Articles:

Sunwayfoto Lens Cleaning Cloth Review
A Quality Lens Cleaning Cloth by Sunwayfoto
Sunwayfoto DDY-64iL Discal Quick Release Clamp Review
Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo Lever/Knob QR Clamp Review
Sunwayfoto DLC-60L Duo Lever / Knob Quick Release Clamp Review
Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base Review
Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base Review
Sunwayfoto DYH-90 Leveling Base Review
Sunwayfoto DYH-90 Leveling Base Review

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