Several months ago we published a video looking at two of the most common types of quick release plates – the Arca Swiss and the RC2. As you might expect the video started a lengthy discussion on YouTube on the pros and cons of both systems. Now, however, we are the first website in the world to take a look at a new PromediaGear hybrid plate that can allow you to work with both Arca Swiss and RC2 as well as a plate which will allow users to work with their Manfrotto 501 heads and Arca Swiss plates.
U.S. manufacturer PromediaGear might be familiar to some of our viewers from our extensive review of their motorized slider last year – still one of our favorite video making accessories and a tool that we used for most of our videos here on LensVid. The company has a large C&C factory in the U.S. and they do all their own milling in-house at a very high-quality level and their slider is certainly a testament for that.
We have been talking to PromediaGear ever since our review and they have been keeping us up to date with what they have been working on and recently the announced several new products including two hybrid quick release plates – the PXM1 – a hybrid Arca Swiss / RC2 plate and the PM501 which is a hybrid 501 and Arca Swiss plate (quick note – when we prepared this review we did not know that there are already a few Arca-Swiss/RC2 plates on the market from companies such as customslr and peakdesign, however to our knowledge there are currently no 501 hybrid plates on the market).
The PM501 and PXM1 new hybrid quick release plates
Both units are really simple in design, the PXM1 is just a tiny square with Arca Swiss grooves on two of the sides and the RC2 plate structure on the other two (it is actually a bit smaller than an RC2 plate but it seems to fit perfectly with zero movement) which you can quickly use with both systems interchangeably if you have different type heads on your tripods, monotpods, sliders etc.
The PM501 is just a bit more sophisticated – it has a lock with a spring loaded clip at the end and it can accept all types of Arca-Swiss plates and basically allow you to move between shooting stills and video (or fluid head and Arca Swiss based heads) very quickly.
The PM501 has a strap port in the middle if you are using PromediaGear’s strap system (the XM1 has the same port) but otherwise, it functions just like any other 501 plate and should work with any compatible Manfrotto or 3’rd party supported fluid head.
We had no issues using the PXM1 or the PM501 and they both proved to be great time savers for us, however, there are a couple of things worth mentioning. The PXM1 has a screw which requires an Allen key to tighten. You do get the key when you buy the plate and it does secure the plate very well to the camera but we would still prefer a thumb-screw design like you have on normal RC2 plates if you want to remove the plate or change its position. You also get a second (smaller) Allen key to change the position (or completely remove) the two small screws that help fix the plate to the camera – pretty nice idea actually.
Tiny but useful – the PXM1 – RC2/Arca Swiss hybrid plate
Case in point, you can use the PXM1 and the PM501 in conjunction with each other which is quite cool, however, we discovered that to get the camera to face forward you need to rotate the PXM1 plate which makes this a little less attractive option. Having a dedicated 501-RC2 plate would be the solution to this and PromediaGear are considering that.
We love these new hybrid plates – they are not just innovative but they truly solve a problem lots of shooters face when trying to decide about which quick release system to choose. They are very well made and function great.
As for pricing, they are a new special design and made in the U.S. so they are certainly more expensive than your basic Chinese plates you can buy on e-bay. The PXM1 cost $20 and the more specialized PM501 cost $40.
We would like to see a 501 / RC2 hybrid plate as well and maybe a more cost effective RC2/Arca Swiss base although that can be a bit tricky to design since Arca Swiss plates come in different sizes while RC2 plates have a fixed size (at least a fixed max size as the PXM1 is a bit smaller than the native RC2).
A unique product – a 501/Ara Swiss plate
If you are also interested in seeing one or both of these manufactured please mention this in the comments on YouTube – this might help persuade the guys over at ProMediaGear to speed things up.
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