May 13, 2020

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 Double Y-Type Long Lens Support Review

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 supporting Sigma 800 mm EX DG APO beast

Some of the older SCV Photography Ideas readers may recall a series of articles engaged with solutions for the stabilization of long telephoto lenses via Long Lens Support Brackets (LLSBs).

But what happens when you want to support a real monster like the SIGMA 800 mm f/5.6 EX DG APO HSM lens? Well trust me a simple bracket as the ones we have seen up to now is not enough then.
Triggered by user demand, Sunwayfoto has gone all the way in introducing a series of Long Lens Support Kits named YLS-G1 through G3 addressing different lens lengths. Their largest model YLS-G3 capable of supporting the Sigma beast is in review here.

At the end of this article you may find a list of the previous articles concerning Long Lens Support in the "Relevant Articles" section.

Required Components for a Long Lens Support Bracket

As many times debated in past articles, a Long Lens Support Bracket, besides the Yoke (Y Shaped Lens Bracket) needs a Long Multipurpose Rail with a front or rear tapped hole for the Yoke to be screwed-on as a minimum prerequisite.
Nonetheless, at best a small QR clamp either modular or fixed at the end of the long rail will allow better and faster adjustment of the Yoke up/down maintaining alignment and a dual subtend QR clamp will allow for fore/aft adjustment of the lens foot, supposedly equipped with an Arca dovetail plate.

The YLS-G3 Long Lens Support Bracket kit Contents

In the case of Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 Long Lens Support system the kit includes:

  1. 1 x YLS-02F Yoke Lens Bracket
  2. 1 x YLS-02B Yoke Lens Bracket
  3. 1 x DMC-225R Rail with on End QR Clamp
  4. 1 x DMC-285R Rail with on End QR Clamp
  5. 1 x DDT-53 Dual Subtend QR Clamp

Plus M3 Safety Stop screws and 1/4"-20 captive mounting screws coming with the rails and the appropriate size Allen hex keys.

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 Components
From left to right: DMC-285R, DMC-225R, YLS-02B (back), YLS-02F (Front), DDT-53 Dual Subtend clamp.
Front row M3 safety screws, 1/4"-20 mounting screws and Allen keys


Packaging & Contents

All components come shrink wrapped in the usual by now recycled-carton boxes, each one branded with the Sunwayfoto logos. A large label shows the photo of the enclosed product, the model number, main specification and the relevant ASIN barcode.

According to Sunwayfoto standards for safe transportation of their products all products and their accompanying parts are nested in pre-cut foam sockets being well protected during shipping handling. A couple of extra layers of foam, one thicker at the bottom and one thinner on top below the lid are there for even better protection from scratches.

All products follow the usual Sunwayfoto sturdy but fine Aluminium structure derived from a very high quality CNC machining and finishing of highest density Aerospace-grade Aluminiun alloy blocks. Then they are hard coat anodized conforming to military specification type III, for a fine satin finish resisting abrasion and corrosion through time.

The YLS-02F Yoke

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:YLS-02F
Length:111 mm
Width:39 mm
Total Width:91 mm
Total Thickness w/ wheels:22 mm
Distance Between Wheel Centers:61 mm
Wheel Diameter:30 mm
Mounting screw:1/4"-20 UNC
Captive Slot Length:75 mm
Dovetail Length:85 mm
Adjustment Height:20-90 mm
Weight:120 gr

The Yoke is grooved on the front and the back with a 75 mm captive slot almost as long as the yoke rail itself in the middle, which allows for vertical adjustment if used with the mounting screw as explained later on. The rail has dual 39 mm wide Arca style dovetail that start from the bottom and stop just below the wheel bar.
On the YLS-02F the 30 mm wheels are covered with rubber O-rings and their centers sit 61 mm apart on the separate wheel-bar on the top of the yoke. Thus the F at the end of the model name which stands for "Front" means that the Yoke is intended for front use, where telephoto lenses have larger diameter elements.

The included 1/4"-20 captive mounting screw has a proprietary large head, which makes tightening and loosening a breeze without the need of any tools. Although included in the box is meant to be used combined with the captive slot on the Yoke for up/down adjustment in other configurations with a plain Multi Purpose Rail and not with one with on end clamp.

Sunwayfoto YLS-02F with mounting screw

The YLS-02B Yoke

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:YLS-02B
Length:111 mm
Width:39 mm
Total Width:73 mm
Total Thickness w/ wheels:22 mm
Distance Between Wheel Centers:43 mm
Wheel Diameter:30 mm
Mounting screw:1/4"-20 UNC
Captive Slot Length:75 mm
Dovetail Length:85 mm
Adjustment Height:20-90 mm
Weight:116 gr

The YLS-02B is exactly the same as far as the rail is concerned, but it's wheels centers sit 43 mm apart on a smaller wheel-bar. Therefore, it's quite obvious now that the letter B means "Back" and is intended to be used at the back of the assembly where the diameter of lenses is far narrower.

Sunwayfoto YLS-02B front view
Obvious from the top hex mounting screws is that the wheel bar is modular and interchangeable between the two brackets.

Sunwayfoto YLS-02B top view

Comparison with YLS-01 Design

Quite sometime ago I had reviewed the first Sunwayfoto YLS-01 Y-Type Long Lens Support. The main difference is that YLS-01 was of one piece design while the new iterations are modular, in order to fit different width wheel bars on top.

The rear side of the YLS-01 is smoother with only a shallow groove near the middle captive slot. The rear side is slightly wider at 41 mm while the edges are convexed which embrace the side curvature of a long multipurpose rail acting as an anti-twist mechanism aligning and immobilizing the yoke on the rail sides.when tightened by the large mounting screw.

On the other hand the newer YLS-02F and YLS-02B mostly intended to be used with a QR clamp for adjustment, have dual dovetail on front and back which allows them to be mounted anyway the user desires.

Sunwayfoto YLS-01 rear side convex edges detail
Sunwayfoto YLS-01 features anti-twist convex edges on the rear side for direct fitting on the end of a long rail.

The DMC-225R Rail with On-end Clamp

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:DMC-225R
Total Length:225 mm
Dovetail Length:185 mm
Captive Slot Length:132 mm
Total Rail Thickness:16 mm
Screw Tapped Holes:1/4"-20 UNC
Width:39 mm
Total Width w/ Clamp:70 mm
Clamp Type:Screw Knob
Weight:210 gr

The DMC-225R is an elongated version of the known DMC-200R vertical rail found in the Sunwayfoto Pano-3 Panoramic head kit. It's actually a dual dovetail rail with a permanently attached screw-knob quick release clamp at right angle on one end. This allows the rail to be mounted standing vertically on another Multipurpose rail, placed horizontally as in the case of panoramic heads, but also be placed horizontally with the on end clamp vertical so as to attach and adjust a smaller rail that needs to move up-down.

This latter case makes it perfect for use as a Long Lens Support rail in order to hold one of the forementioned Y-shape lens brackets for easy adjustment.

Furthermore, the rail has plenty of 1/4"-20 tapped holes, 10 of them on the rail itself and one more in the middle of the QR clamp, which can serve for the attachment of accessories, plus a strap loop on the opposite end of the clamp.

Sunwayfoto DMC-225R on end clamp view

The DMC-285R Rail with On-end Clamp

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:DMC-285R
Total Length:285 mm
Dovetail Length:245 mm
Captive Slot Length:193 mm
Total Rail Thickness:16 mm
Screw Tapped Holes:1/4"-20 UNC
Width:39 mm
Total Width w/ Clamp:70 mm
Clamp Type:Screw Knob
Weight:253 gr

The DMC-285R is an even longer version of the same rail with on end clamp, in order to accommodate even longer lenses.

Sunwayfoto DMC-285R top front view


The DDT-53 Subtend Clamp

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:DDT-53
Total Length:54.4 mm
Width:53 mm
Thickness:21 mm
Center Mounting Hole:3/8"-16 UNC
Clamp Type:Screw Knob
Weight:158 gr

The DDT-53 is a 53 mm wide as per its name dual subtend quick release clamp. We have seen similar clamps from other manufacturers in the past in same purpose LLSB structures. This type of clamp is perfect when we want to join two Multipurpose rails together, one on top and one on the bottom, allowing fore-aft adjustment between the two.
Further, the DDT-53 is quite compact with short screw knobs on either side and deep safety stop screw grooves that allow the utilization of almost all of its length.
Sunwayforo DDT-53 Dual Subtend clamp

Assembly of the YLS-G3 Long Lens Support Bracket

First job before anything else, is to choose which tripod and head are compatible with very long lenses. Obviously, we need weight lifting champions with extra sturdiness and minimal to no sag or vibration. Therefore, my choice was the Sunwayfoto XB-52 Low Profile ball head equipped with the beefy DDY-07 Panning Clamp on top rated at 60 Kg load, all supported by the Sirui R-5214X Systematic a series 5 Carbon Fiber Tripod.
More details about the supporting gear will be available in their individual review articles.
 
I started mounting the components from bottom to top with the DMC-285R Rail clamped by the DDY-07 panning clamp on the head, looking to the front. Then the DDT-53 on the DMC -285R acting as a horizontal regulating clamp between the two rails and then the DMC-225R Rail clamped on top as illustrated below.

Sunwayfoto DMC-285R - DDT-53 - DMC-225R assembly

Next step was the clamping of the YLS-02F to the front and the YLS-02B at the rear end of the bracket assembly.

Sunwayfoto DMC-285R - DDT-53 - DMC-225R assembly with YLS-02B and YLS-02F installed

Installation suggestion from the manufacturers of the LLSB bracket is to screw the top DMC-225 rail on the foot of the long telephoto lens to be supported. However, although this approach seems the easiest way to go, it also brings forward a few issues concerning the balancing of the rig and the usability with different lenses.
By permanently attaching the lens foot on one of the DMC rails is quite inconvenient in my opinion since it needs assembly disassembly each time you need to mount the lens on the tripod in the field. 

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 drawing supporting a long lens
 
Therefore, I decided to go with a little more complex solution adding a second dual subtend QR clamp on top for the attachment of the lens foot, which however has a prerequisite that it has a long lens plate with dovetail installed.

Sunwayfoto DMC-285R - DDT-53 - DMC-225R assembly with extra Dual Subtend clamp detail

The full structure of the suggested Long Lens Support Bracket is illustrated below in its minimum length.

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 assembly with extra Dual Subtend clamp

The minimum length of lens that can be supported by the YLS-G3 LLSB when retracted is 335 mm (13.19") and the maximum when fully extended is 435 mm (17.12")

Using the Long Lens Support Bracket

Although the LLSB was intended to support a quite longer and heavier lens, I made some tests with the shorter Canon EF 100-400 f:4.5-5.6 L IS USM lens equipped with the Desmond DPL-115 Lens Plate.

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 assembly with extra Dual Subtend clamp and lens foot detail

Nonetheless, I had to add a few extension tubes in order to mount the lens on the LLSB in its minimum size, but managed to balance it nicely at its longest focal length with a DSLR attached.

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 assembly with extra Dual Subtend clamp and lens foot full view

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 assembly with extra Dual Subtend clamp and Canon lens/camera full view II
*****

*****
Supporting the SIGMA 800 mm Beast

Here is where the YLS-G3 finds its true meaning and purpose. The SIGMA 800 mm f/5.6 EX DG APO HSM was equipped with the Desmond DPL-169 Lens Plate which as denoted is 169 mm long and fits exactly on the long lens foot.

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 assembly A with extra Dual Subtend clamp and Sigma lens/camera detail

The size of the lens requires the YLS-G3 be extended almost fully in order for the Yoke wheels sit on the proper positions on the front and rear of the lens barrel.

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 assembly A with extra Dual Subtend clamp and Sigma lens/camera close up

Needless to say that extreme caution is required when mounting or unmounting the lens, because it is very large and heavy. Given the chance, I should mention that this is the kind of load Sunwayfoto XB-52 is intended for, otherwise it is an overkill. It coped with the SIGMA 800 plus LLSB bracket very easily and locked well.

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 assembly A with extra Dual Subtend clamp and Sigma lens/camera full view

Reversing the on end QR Clamps Direction

Somehow I was not satisfied with the clamping area on both Yokes by the DMC on end QR clamps, due to the distance introduced by the two subtend clamps. This somehow although tightly clamped was less secure or felt like it. 
Therefore there had to be a solution, which was easy actually since the DMC rails have dual dovetails. I had only to turn the DMC rails upside down in order to change the orientation of the on end QR clamps, thus allow for ample clamping of the Yokes.

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 assembly B with extra Dual Subtend clamp and Sigma lens/camera close up

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 assembly B with extra Dual Subtend clamp and Sigma lens/camera detail

This move turns the hollow part of the DMC rails on top but this is meaningful only for the looks. Otherwise we have a more solid rig supporting a beast of a lens.

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 assembly B with extra Dual Subtend clamp and Sigma lens/camera full view

Alternative Configuration

Trying to lower the center of gravity, I followed a second approach to the assembly of the YLS-G3 LLSB components, involving the DMC Rails. It is a little less handy to adjust the length of the LLSB, but after a little thought I realized that there are very few situations where the fore-aft adjustment in order t increase or decrease the length may be needed. 
A second benefit of this approach which decreased the height, is that the hole structure might be used with a large Gimbal Head.
Simply, I used a couple of 1/4"-20 captive screws from the kit instead of the DDT-53 subtend clamp to hold the DMC rails together. All other components remain. 

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 Alt assembly with extra Dual Subtend clamp

This requires the flat surfaces of the DMC rails face each other and the on end clamps face in opposite directions.

Sunwayfoto DMC-225R and DMC-285R Alt assembly overview

As there are plenty of 1/4"-20 tapped holes on each rail, I used 1 screw under each one to tighten the other on the hole farther to its end.

Sunwayfoto DMC-225R and DMC-285R Alt assembly  bottom view

Sunwayfoto DMC-225R and DMC-285R Alt assembly mount detail

Sunwayfoto DMC-225R and DMC-285R Alt assembly mount detail II

Then attached the DDT-53 clamp on top in order to accept a lens foot equipped with an Arca style lens plate.

Sunwayfoto DMC-225R and DMC-285R Alt assembly with DDT-53

Using with A Lens Example B

All things remain the same, even the minimum and maximum lengths are maintained, but the center of gravity is lowered by 15 mm ( 0.59" ).

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 Alt assembly with DDT-53 clamp and lens foot detail

Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 Alt assembly with DDT-53 clamp and lens front detail

Pros
Innovative multi-functional design that can offer extra stability to a large number of super long telephoto lenses.
No tools or other components required if used with a couple of DDT-53 dual subtend QR clamp.
Excellent machining, finishing and anodizing quality according to Sunwayfoto standards.
Excellent fitting with very small tolerances and smooth operation.
Good value for money.

Cons
Adds considerable extra weight on already heavy equipment.
Raises center of gravity significantly above the pivoting points of a head.
Very difficult in packing for transport as is, requires dismantling.

Conclusion
Sunwayfoto YLS-G3 is an innovative Y-Type Long Lens Support Bracket combo, sturdy enough to handle large and heavy lenses in situations where the minimal shake from wind or other kind of environmental vibrations is critical for the outcome to the photographer. This really makes a difference, especially with very long lenses where the angle of view is only a few degrees.
It requires no tools when used with subtend clamps and only an Allen hex key if the user decides to screw the two DCM rails together.as in the second example above.
However, getting the good stuff has always a coin to pay. The total structure is big and cumbersome, while it adds significant weight to your tripod and head, not to mention if it also has to be carried around, cannot be maintained and packed with the lens. The LLSB has to be dismantled anyway.
Therefore, if you have mission critical applications using very long and heavy lenses then the YLS-G3 is for you, otherwise is not a toy.

Note: The YLS-G3 Long Lens Support Bracket and its components presented in this article were kindly offered by Sunwayfoto headquarters, for evaluation and review.

I hope you found the article and ideas useful, thank you for viewing.
Photos & Photosynths: © 2016-2020 S.C.Vlachos
Some photos by courtesy of Sunwayfoto © 2016-2020

Price & Availability:
Reecomended retail price for the YLS-G3 package is US$ 299.95 (+shipping where appicable). Nonetheless individual YLS Yokes and DMC rails components are available from Amazon while complete sets are available from eBay worldwide.

Referenced Articles:

Sunwayfoto YLS-01 Y-Type Long Lens Support Review
Sunwayfoto YLS-01 Y-Type Long Lens Support Review
Desmond DPL-100 / 115 / 150 / 169 Lens Plates 100-115-150-169 mm Review
Desmond DPL-100 / 115 / 150 / 169 Lens Plates 100-115-150-169 mm Review








Sunwayfoto XB-52 Low Profile Ball Head Review

Sunwayfoto DDY-07 Panning Clamp Review

Sirui R-5214X Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod Review


Relevant Articles:

Create a Heavy Duty Long Lens Support Bracket
Create a Heavy Duty Long Lens Support Bracket
Ideas for a Long Lens Support Bracket (Part 1)
Ideas for a Long Lens Support Bracket (Part 1)
The basic Long Lens Support Bracket idea (Part 2)
The basic Long Lens Support Bracket idea (Part 2)
A versatile Long Lens Support Bracket idea (Part 3)
A versatile Long Lens Support Bracket idea (Part 3)
A versatile Long Lens Support Bracket idea for push-pull zoom lenses (Part 4)
A versatile Long Lens Support Bracket idea for push-pull zoom lenses (Part 4)

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