Manfrotto 410 Jr. Geared Head DIY: Adding Arca Swiss Compatibility on a Budget
The Manfrotto 410 Junior geared tripod head is ubiquitous amongst architectural and real estate photographers everywhere. It works, it’s affordable, and it’s built like a tank. It’s not without its problems - they can develop play in the gears over time. Most photographers work around that problem with ease, however. One thing that keeps coming up from viewers of my tutorial, is how I got an L--Bracket to work with my Manfrotto 410 Junior. It’s a setup I used for a number of years and it is rock solid, so I thought I’d share.
One thing that I always found limiting about this head is the camera mounting plate. It’s freaking enormous, and it’s a design that does not allow you to use an L-bracket. That means that in order to shoot a vertical composition, you need to turn the tripod head on its side, and when you do that, it makes all of the geared adjustments very cumbersome.
Worse than that, because it forces your camera to hang off to the left side of your tripod, when you are up against a doorjamb, for example, and you want to get your camera as far right as possible, you are limited by the fact that the camera hangs off to the left of the tripod. That can cost you several inches of perspective in your composition. I hated it on day one.
This is why I’m a big fan of L-Brackets. When mounted to a camera, an L-Bracket allows you to tun the camera on its side for a vertical composition, while still keeping the camera centered over the tripod, and also keeping the head’s knobs in the same familiar orientation that you’re used to. But you can’t use an L-Bracket with this Manfrotto head out of the box.
There’s a really nice solution out there from Hejnar Photo. But it’s expensive, and if you just bought your geared head, it feels kind of insulting to have to spend another $120+ to be able to use an L-Bracket. So I came up with a DIY solution that served me very well for years.
I purchased an Arca Swiss compatible clamp from Amazon. I have had good luck with the Sunwayfoto brand, but there are several nice options available in the $30-40 price point. Most of them come with a 3/8” to 1/4” threaded adapter that will let you mount the clamp using a standard 1/4”-20 mounting screw. Simply screw the clamp onto the Manfrotto base plate the same way you would mount your camera, and that’s it!
All that’s left is to get an L-Bracket. There are universal ones available that will fit any camera, but if you can find on that is a custom fit for your exact camera model, that’s a nice option. It usually means you can still access your battery door, and the ports on the side of the camera with no interference from the L-Bracket.