Kessler Kwik Release System

Before I break down into why I bought a Kessler Kwik Release System in the first place I would like to give you some perspective.

When I was starting to take photography more seriously, one of the things I bought was a Gitzo Tripod with a Gitzo Off Centre Ballhead. I made the smart decision to buy a ballhead with a quick release plate because that makes life a lot easier when you want to switch between your tripod and handheld photography.

For video I didn't use any tripods for a long time. I had bought a tripod back in the year 2000 but that thing was awful. It's easy to make a mistake like that, you can spend a lot of money and still buy a crappy tripod.

I was determined not to make this mistake again and deciced to buy a Manfrotto Tripod (MPRO 535) with Carbon Fibre legs and a Sachtler Cine DSLR Fluid Head. A perfect combination for shooting on a DSLR.

A little while later I also bought a Kessler Crane Philip Bloom Pocket Dolly to be able to create those fancy slider shots. By using a flatmount adapter I could also put my Gitzo Off Centre Ballhead on the slider.

At the beginning of 2013 I also got myself a Glidecam HD4000 for a shoot I was doing. That's when it bcame clear I had to get a solution for all those different types of camera support.

At that time I had three different types of quick release systems:

  • Sachtler Quick Release
  • Glidecam Quick Release
  • Gitzo Quick Release

To add to this I also wasn't really pleased with my Gitzo Off Centre Ballhead when using it for landscape photography, it was pretty hard to get it exactly the way I wanted.

So to sum this up, these are the different systems I had to use at that time:

collage of sachtler head, glidecam quick release, gitzo head, dolly on halfball From left to right you see the default quick release system for the Sachtler Cine DSLR Fluid Head, the Philip Bloom Pocket Dolly mounted to a halfball head, the Glidecam HD4000 and the Gitzo GH2750QR Off Centre Ballhead with quick release.

Another problem to solve

To be able to record better audio with my Nikon D800 I have a JuicedLink Riggy Micro (RM333) Audio Preamp. I like to keep my rigs as small and compact as possible. The best way to have the RM333 as part of my rig is to mount it to the bottom of the camera.

You can mount the RM333 in four different positions to bottom of the Nikon D800:

different mounting positions of JuicedLink RM333 on bottom of a Nikon D800

With the exception of the third position, they are all pretty bad balanced and have an odd center of gravity, but the downside then is that the XLR inputs are on the front.

To get a better balance I came up with this solution: I attached my Zacuto Gorilla Baseplate (for my Z-Finder) to the bottom of the Nikon D800 and used one of the holes on the Gorilla Plate to mount the RM333 to, this is a lot better then the previous examples, it has proper balance and the XLR inputs are at the back which aligns best with the XLR output of a microphone mounted via the hotshoe.

JuicedLink RM333 mounted to the bottom of a Nikon D800 with attached Zacuto Gorilla Baseplate

Added benefit of this solution is that I am able to use the Zacuto Pincher to make sure the HDMI cable for my Zacuto EVF doesn't jiggle (if I chose to use the EVF ofcourse).

There is however, also a downside to this solution: What if I want to switch between this audio optimized configuration and just go handheld? Or going from this configuration to shooting something on my glidecam? I would have to unscrew the plate on the bottom of the JuicedLink, unscrew the JuickedLink from the Gorilla Plate with a Hex Key and unscrew the Gorilla Plate from the bottom of the camera. And when you know you have to switch back to the audio config pretty soon, there's a pretty good chance you don't even go handheld or glidecam entirely because it's just too much hassle or too time consuming to get the shot you need.

The search for a solution

Kessler had just released their Kwik Release System and I immediately thought it was interesting because of the easy way you would be able to mount a slider to a tripod by using their utility plate.

I read that their system was going to be Arca-Swiss Compatible, just like the Really Right Stuff Ballheads that I had seen earlier when attending a photography workshop with Bas Meelker. Bas is a landscape photographer and he had a Gitzo tripod with a leveling base and a Really Right Stuff Ballhead. I was really impressed by the quality of the RSS (Really Right Stuff) Ballhead but also by it's price :-)

But knowing that in these cases it's better to spend a little more on quality than to buy something that I was going to regret (and still would cost me a lot of money) I decided to go for a Really Right Stuff Ballhead in combination with a Manfrotto Halfball Head. By using this combination I was able to use my RSS ballhead on my Manfrotto Tripod as well as on my Gitzo Tripod.

I didn't have to buy a Really Right Stuff quick release plate because I was hoping the Kessler Kwik Release Plate would fit just as well (since it's Arca-Swiss Compatible).

So here are all Kessler Kwik Release System Parts I bought to solve the problems described above:

Kessler Kwik Release System Parts

Top Left: Three Receivers, Top Right: Long Plate, Bottom Left: Short Plate, Bottom Right: Utility Plate.

The result is that I now have a great quick release system which saves me a lot of time and better results:

Kessler Kwik Release System Solutions from Marien Brethouwer on Vimeo.

Kessler Kwik Release System Quality

The Kessler Kwik Release System was able to solve the problems that I had but you probably also would like to know how to the quality of the system itself is.

The first thing I noticed about this system is that it is way lighter than you would expect. This is mainly because of the screwholes in both the plates and the receiver itself. I haven't really used those screwholes to mount anything to the plates but if the situation should arise it's nice to know that it can and that the plate is lighter because of it.

The build quality of the plates is just excellent. The build quality of the mount is also great but one out of the three that I have has a little room when it is secured that can be a little annoying.

When you want to use a Kessler Short or Long Plate on a Really Right Stuff Ballhead you have to be aware of the fact that it does snot snap in like the RSS plates, there is no security mechanism, you have to secure the latch entirely for the plate to be locked.

Another issue that I have run into is that because the plates are all metal, it can happen (for example with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera) that you secure the plate to a metal object and it moves too easily, you cannot tighten it the way you would like to. This can be solved by placing some sticky cork on the one of the two metal objects.

Conclusion

The Kessler Kwik Release System is a really well designed and build Quick Release System. Because of the Arca Swiss Style Plates it has great interoperability with other systems and because of the small and light receiver you can use it on virtually anything (from tripods, sliders and glidecams, to magic arms and audio preamps).

I mainly use lightweight (DSLR, pocket camera, pocket dolley) type of gear, and the Kessler Kwik Release System is perfect for this. I don't know how it will perform with more heavy systems, it will probably work out fine, but I can imagine that there are better suited systems available for that type of situations.

Kessler Kwik Release System Specs

Dimensions
Product Imperial Metric
Receiver 4" x 3.25" x 0.875" 10,16cm x 8,26cm x 2,22cm
Utility Plate 4” x 4” x 0.625" 10,16cm x 10,16cm x 1,59cm
Short Plate 1.5” x 3.5” x 0.438" 3,81cm x 8,89cm x 1,11cm
Long Plate 1.5” x 6” x 0.438" 3,81cm x 15,24cm x 1,11cm

Included tools

The system comes delivered with the following tools:

Receiver with Short Plate:

  • 2x 1/4"-20 Countersunk Screw
  • 2x 8-32x1/2" Socket Head Cap Screw
  • 1x 5/32" Allen Key (Hex Key)
  • 1x 9/64" Allen Key (Hex Key)

Utility Plate:

  • 4x 1/4"-20 Countersunk Screw
  • 4x 1/4"-20 Kessler Knobs
  • 1x 3/8"-16 Countersunk Screw
  • 1x 5/32" Allen Key (Hex Key)

Long Plate & Short Plate:

  • 1/4"-20 Camera Screw

Kessler Video about the Kwik Release System

Here is a video from Kessler Crane about the Kessler Kwik Release System presented by Preston Kanak:

A Closer Look: The Kessler Crane Kwik Release System from Kessler Crane on Vimeo.

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