Almost every accessory brand is taking the horizontal-to-vertical rotation mounts very seriously. Let’s see what Ulanzi’s range of options have to offer.
Rotating camera mounts or brackets as alternatives to L-brackets have been gaining so much popularity among photographers who often use tripods and would have to switch between shooting horizontally and vertically. That’s why almost every brand that make such accessories have been racing to produce their own version of these simple but very useful tools. Ulanzi has been one of the popular brands for L-brackets, camera cages, and other support gear in the past few years, and they have three unique variants of this tool to offer.
Rotating Camera Bracket Generalities
All rotating camera mount brackets are made up of a camera mounting plate attached to a collar that wraps around the base of the lens’ barrel with an internally sliding ring in the middle of the two stationary layers. This collar is then connected to another plate usually lowered by about an inch through a stem and this plate is the one used to mount the entire setup on a tripod (or any other compatible support accessory). All rotating brackets (at least all those that we have tested at this point) require that the lens be removed in order to mount the plate onto the camera since the section nearest the lens mount is generally the one with the smallest diameter. On one side of the collar is commonly where a friction control knob would be found and this is used to lock or unlock the rotation of the camera. It’s also important to note that certain lenses with accessory ports (such as the Tamron 28-75mm G2’s USB-C port) may not be compatible or might be significantly tight with some variants.
The Ulanzi S-63
The S-63 rotating mount plate kit is the standard option for Ulanzi’s rotating brackets. This particular model is compatible with Sony cameras and lenses because variants for other brands differ in terms of the diameter of the collar. The S-63 rotating bracket has a camera mounting plate on one side and a mounting foot plate on the other. The camera mount plate is a universal-fit plate that takes up about 1/3 of the surface of the camera’s base, while the mounting foot is generally the same size placed on the other side. The red rotation knob can be found on the lower left side of the collar. The bracket can generally can rotate 360 degrees, except that going from 270 degrees back to 0 is hindered by the knob hitting one of the plates.
In versions from other brands, such as the one from SmallRig, there is a lens release button extension that makes it easy to access the lens release button. This version from Ulanzi as well as the other ones mentioned in this review do not have that feature, which means that the user would have to squeeze their way into the small gap between the camera and the collar to press the button.
This particular variant is pretty much the basic version of rotating brackets except for its unique feature, which is the fact that the plate on the camera’s side is also Arca-Swiss mount compatible, giving two options for how to mount it on a tripod.
The Ulanzi Claw S-63
One of Ulanzi’s well-developed product lines is its quick release systems that allow effortless mounting of accessories onto the cameras or vice versa. Ulanzi developed a compact quick release system called the “Claw,” which is made up of a square camera base plate that would fit into a locking receptacle on the tripod or accessory which the camera is to be mounted on. This system uses two buttons on opposite sides of the receptacle to quickly unlock the plate and release the camera.
The Claw S-63 rotating camera mount is made up of the same structural elements and aesthetic found on the standard S-63 variant. The camera base plate is still Arca-Swiss type, which is a good just-in-case feature for when the camera has to be mounted on other support gear because the main mounting plate in front is the one that is compatible with the Ulanzi claw accessories. This means that whoever would choose this particular variant would have to mount the claw mounting receptacle onto all the tripods and accessories on which they intend to mount this bracket on or use dedicated accessories in the same product lineup.
Using the Claw quick release system does generally require committing to the entire system if one uses multiple tripods and other accessories. When L-brackets were the only vertical mounting options available, it would have been counterproductive to use a less universal (or less available) mounting style, but since the rotating brackets make it possible to shift to a different orientation without removing the camera, this quick-release system makes a lot of sense.
The Falcam Rotating Half-Cage
Falcam is one of Ulanzi’s sub-brands that offer more complex and modular accessories with interchangeable and DIY building options. Falcam uses mounting plates that, in addition to having their own quick-release options, are mostly inter-compatible with at least one other mounting system. Falcam accessories have F22, F38, and F50 mounting plates that vary in the size of the plate. The Falcam F22 is another type of quick-release system that is generally used for quick mounting of small accessories onto camera cages and arms. The Falcam F38 plate is an Arca-Swiss style base that has additional ridges for its own quick-release bottom plate/clamp, and the Falcam F50 plate is a thicker plate that fits sliding quick-release mounts commonly found on video tripod fluid heads with a similar style to the Manfrotto 501PL.
The Falcam rotating camera mount has a rear base plate that is compatible with the F50 quick release system when mounted on the longer side and compatible with the F38 and Arca-Swiss style mounting when on the shorter side. In addition, it has three 1/4” screw threads for additional mounting options. The front plate has the same dimensions which means that it offers the same compatibility with the F50 and F38 systems along with its own set of three 1/4” screw threads.
What makes this rotating bracket unique is that it has an additional mounting plate with a shorter stem that is positioned perpendicular to the front plate. This secondary plate rotates along with the lens collar, which allows it to be positioned parallel to the top plate of the camera. This secondary plate is compatible with the F22 quick release system and as well as the F38 and Arca-Swiss mounts. This then allows for extra accessories such as a top handle to be easily mounted onto the setup. At the same time, this is the only variant of rotating brackets among all that we have seen so far that would then allow the camera to be mounted vertically with the flip screen on top. With all three plates positioned on the bottom, left, and top sides of the camera (facing the viewfinder), there are generally three sides available for mounting, which resembles the functionality of a half-cage. In addition, the inter-compatibility of the F38 and F50 mounting plates allows this bracket to be mounted directly onto most gimbal stabilizers without having to use proprietary base plates.
Instead of a knob, a ratchet type lever that can be pulled to change alignment can be found on the lower left side. At the bottom of the front part, right below the lens collar, are two hex screws that can be loosened to adjust the height between the camera base plate and the connecting stem of the collar.
Various accessory brands are coming out with so many versions of this popular new tool that can have a lot of implications for efficiency in both photography and video. The key would be to find which variant would best suit your needs and would benefit your workflow the most. At the end of the day, the abundance of options will be for the good of all consumers.
What I Liked:
- Multiple modular options
- Multi-purpose mounting compatibility
- At least two mounting options on each variant
What Can Be Improved:
- No lens release button extender on any of the variants
- Limited range of rotation when using cameras with bulky hand grips