A bad design, but a little modification helps :)

A bad design, but a little modification helps :)

I truly love my new Sony A7iii camera, but one thing that has bothered me since I first got my hands on one is the small size. Now don’t get me wrong- I love how compact it is- but I have big hands and I’m coming from the full-size heft of a Canon 5D mark III, and when I put my big, heavy Canon glass on here (using my excellent Metabones V adapter) it feels like it’s going to slip out of my grip.

So I was very excited when I found this from Smallrig

Not only does this add about 3/4″ to the bottom of the camera handgrip, and give me a place for my pinky to sit and more to grip, but as I intend to leave it on pretty much all the time it also gives me a permanently installed L bracket which is Arca Swiss compatible (as is my tripod)- bonus! So I ordered one and since it came it has been on my camera all the time.

I was very happy except that I noticed that after a time shooting the screw holding it on it would work a tiny bit loose and unfortunately because of the way it is designed that would mean it would wiggle on the camera-

Now they very kindly provide you with a hex key which stores magnetically very neatly in the base of the bracket, but it is a huge pain in the but to have to stop mid-shoot to tighten it up, and when it wiggles like this it is basically useless as an L bracket as the camera will move between shots- especially with my aforementioned, heavy Canon glass. I guess I could have just really cranked the hex key to tighten it, but I really don’t want to risk stripping threads 🙁

And to make matters worse I saw a post on the Sony A7III Facebook group where someone mentioned that the play in the bracket was damaging the paint on the base of his camera, so I took mine off to look, and there was the same damage showing on mine-

Now I did get the “Lens Adapter Support” that would replace the tripod mount on the Metabones and screw to it and the L bracket when I ordered this, and that would solve the problem by stopping the adapter twisting, but I don’t want to put the extra strain on the lens mount of the camera- and sometimes I use my vintage glass which mounts with it’s own adapters and without the Metabones, and that would make swapping them out a real pain.

I contacted Smallrig, the manufacturer, through their Facebook page, and late Thursday night (I guess “office hours” for them in China) they replied. I sent them pictures and we had a bit of back and forth and the upshot was that they said they would be contacting their R&D department and would be redesigning the L bracket and will send me a free one when they do, but it will take at least a month. I have been in contact with the person who posted the original damage pictures on FB and he has been given the same answer, so we will keep in contact and see what happens…

In the meantime I do not want to go without the extra bulk the bracket gives this amazing but diminutive camera, so I put my mind to seeing if I could continue to use it while I wait without doing any more damage.

I reasoned that the problem is that the bracket is only held to the camera in one spot and as the top of the bracket is flat and does not “hug” the base of the camera (which is also basically flat) it allows there to be movement. I figured if I can get something thin in between the two to create some friction it should help to lock them together.

First I tried applying a thin bead of Sugru (I love this stuff!) to the bracket and left it to set for 24 hours. It worked perfectly (sorry, no pictures), but unfortunately when I went to remove the bracket most of the Sugru came off too- I guess the anodized aluminum of the bracket is too smooth for it to bond, and I don’t want to apply it to the camera. Next I tried some friction tape as I had a roll in the drawer…

This worked quite well, but I wasn’t crazy about the look and it felt like it didn’t have any “give”. So this morning I went over to our local Michael’s craft store and grabbed a 99 cent sheet of thin, black, adhesive-backed craft foam.

After making a few templates and a couple of trial runs…

I came up with a nice fit that not only gives the necessary friction between the camera and the bracket (in one of the pictures below you can see the ridges and screws of the base of the camera imprinted in the foam), but I was also able to wrap the part of the bracket that extends the hand-grip of the camera in foam to make it much more comfortable while also leaving full access to the battery- and this also wraps the part that was rubbing the paint off the camera in foam too 🙂

All in all I’m very happy with the result 🙂 I have ended up with a much more comfortable grip and an L bracket that is locked solidly to the base of the camera without having to super-tighten the screw. And I call that a win!

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