August 5, 2014

Desmond D290 Double 90° Right Angle Clamp Review

Desmond D290 Double 90° Right Angle Clamp
The Desmond D290 double 90° right angle quick release clamp is undoubtedly an innovative or better put an one of a kind product in its field.

There have been many ways of attaching two rails perpendicular to each other. Either involving screws or angled blocks, or a combination of both, as well as QR clamps.

None up to now has involved two Arca-Swiss® compatible quick release clamps set in a right angle between them, yet directly CNC machined from a single block of Aluminium.

The clamp

Manufacturer Specification:
Height:17.25 mm (0.68")
Width w/ Screw Knobs:72.52 mm (2.85")
Jaws' Length:50.00 mm (1.97")
Long Side Length Clamp A:67.25 mm (2.65")
Short Side Length Clamp B:55.00 mm (2.16")
Center Mounting Hole Thread:3/8"-16
Metal Conversion Bushing:3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20
Weight:159 gr (5.6 oz)
All Metal construction:Aluminium

The D290 double QR clamp is a very versatile solution for connecting any two Arca-Swiss® compatible multipurpose or dedicated use rails in a right angle.

Desmond D290 Double 90° Right Angle Clamp side front
As forementioned the Desmond D290 is CNC machined from a single block of Aluminium, offering excellent alignment in 90° as well as maximum rigidity. The top surfaces of the clamps that come in contact with the clamped plates or rails are completely flat with a countersunk and also threaded 3/8"-16 center hole on each clamp. Although these center holes might allow the D290 to be mounted on a ball head, I find little use to it, but the option is still there.
Both stable and moving jaws on both clamps have a decimal laser engraved scale with marks every 1 mm and digits every 5 mm starting counting from the center outwards covering 2 cm on each side.
Desmond D290 Double 90° Right Angle Clamp side back
Any excess material has been removed in order to minimize weight, mostly from the interconnecting sides and the bottom of the clamps. Its more evident in the photo above that the moving jaws follow the tongue in slot design. Nonetheless, the tolerances between the moving parts are very tight, leaving very little to none headroom for play or deformation of the jaw under presure.
Desmond D290 Double 90° Right Angle Clamp sitting front
Due to the nature of the QR clamp one of the clamps has to be on top of the other, resulting to one dimension of the right angle to be longer than the other. As shown above the vertical dimension is 67.25 mm versus 55 mm of the horizontal. Depending on the application it is up to the users' discretion to decide which dimension should be put horizontally or vertically.
Desmond D290 Double 90° Right Angle Clamp sitting back
The screw knob stems have been minimized having in mind the least possible obstruction when and if  the clamp will be used on a panorama rig as we shall see later on.

The Evolution of the Clamp
As I have been part of the evolution of this innovative clamp, I happen to have some preliminary prototypes in my possession, which may give a clue to my readers about the different stages a new product comes through, before reaching the market.

Desmond D290 Double 90° prototypes and final product
The original Siamese clamp prototype is pictured in the middle above. A bulky, massive and heavy structure with long knobs, base mostly on the more crude Desmond DAC-01 QR clamp. A trimmed down iteration is pictured on the left, showing some refinement with a lot of material removed both on top, bottom and sides, closer to the design of the DAC-X1 skeleton clamp. On the right the final version of  Desmond D290 with further improved geometry, laser engraved scales and equipped with short stem knobs.

Arca-Swiss® Compatibility
The D290 double skeleton right angle quick release clamp was tested with various camera plates and lens plates, as well as with multipurpose long rails of various thicknesses and widths. Plates / Rails tested were from Benro, Desmond, Kiwi Fotos, Fotoporo, Marumi and Hejnar PHOTO, without any issue whatsoever.
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 in mm Clamp AClamp B
Jaw Length50.0050.00
Steady Jaw Height05.3005.20
Moving Jaw Height04.9604.93
Min Jaw Lip Opening31.8031.88
Max Jaw Lip Opening36.0636.35
Min Base Opening39.9739.95
Max Base Opening44.1244.38

Desmond D290 Double 90° Right Angle Clamp
Desmond D290 Clamp A on the left and Clamp B on the right as assigned for differentiation purposes.

All dimensions fall within the average limits, consisting the clamp compatible with almost all variations of Arca-Swiss® type plates and rails.
Therefore, I can confirm Desmond's claim that the clamp will accommodate any Arca style rails from various makers including: Really right stuff (RRS), Wimberley, Sunwayfoto, Desmond, Arca Swiss, Kirk Enterprises, Markins, etc.
Further, in my load test nothing moved, nothing slipped, it held any rail rock solid.

Using the D290 Double Clamp...

As part of a Panoramic Rig

The D290 Double 90° Right Angle Clamp besides its many possible applications, actually came to complement the New Budget Line of Nodal Slides and Multipurpose Rails from Desmond as the missing connecting piece between them.

Desmond D290 with DLR-2502 MPR, DLR-2002 Vertical and DNR-180 Nodal slide
The D290 Double 90° Right Angle Clamp is pictured above, teamed with the DLR-2502 Multipurpose Rail, the DLR-2002 Skeleton Multipurpose Rail and the DNR-180 Nodal Rail with integral QR clamp. 
Desmond D290 holding DLR-2502 horizontally and DLR-2002 Vertically
Desmond D290 becomes a very versatile connector holding the DLR-2502 Multipurpose rail horizontally and DLR-2002 Skeleton Multipurpose rail vertically. Having a double 90° QR clamp guaranties instant alignment between the rails and allows either the adjustment of the position of the vertical rail on top of the horizontal rail, or the adjustment of the vertical rail height in relation to the horizontal rail level. The latter is possible when the D290 is set at the far end of the horizontal rail.

More information about the assembly of a Desmond Multirow Panoramic Rig will be available in a dedicated article, as well as in the Desmond DLR-2002 Vertical Multipurpose Rail Review as soon as time permits

Original and innovative design.
Very low weight for the clamp type and size.
Exceptional machining, finishing and anodizing quality for the price.
Good fitting with small tolerances.
Very smooth operation.
Excellent value for money.

None found up to the time of this review.

In many of the first Desmond QR Clamp reviews I made some critical comments about their geometry and weight. However, after the introduction of the Desmond DAC-X1 Skeleton Quick Release Clamp, Desmond team seems to have succeeded entering into a new era with a vast improvement over their original QR Clamps.
Since the D290 is based on the DAC-X1 QR clamp which is the best Desmond's clamp in geometry so far, so is the D290 ranking among the best Desmond clamps I have tested up to now.
I believe this clamp is very innovative, while combined with the Desmond quality standards and a very low price tag, it offers excellent Value for Money!

Note : The D290 Dual 90° 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: © 2014 S.C.Vlachos

Price & Availability:
Current price for the D290 QR Clamp is US$ 39.97 29.95 available from Amazon or from eBay

Further current prices for Desmond DNR-120 and DNR-180 Nodal slides are US$ 29.95 and US$ 39.95 respectively also available from Amazon or from eBay

while for Desmond DLR-2002 and DLR-2502 are US$ 29.95 and 39.95. as well available from Amazon or from eBay

Referenced Articles:

New Budget Line of Nodal Slides and Multipurpose Rails from Desmond

Desmond DLR-2502B Multipurpose Rail Review

Desmond DLR-2002 Vertical Multipurpose Rail Review

Desmond DNR-120 and DNR-180 Nodal Slides Review

Relevant Articles:

Desmond DLVC-50 Skeleton Lever Release Clamp Preview

Desmond DAC-X1 Skeleton Quick Release Clamp Review

Desmond DBC-50 50mm Dual Subtend QR Clamp Review

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