Geoff Harris ignores the hype to see if this Z-type bracket offers anything new
ZenTilt camera support at a glance:
- Z-type tripod bracket for adjusting shooting angles quickly
- Works with most tripods and camera makers
- Produced from lightweight but sturdy aluminium
- Price $56 (around £43)
If you’ve spent any time on Facebook recently you may have seen the ads for the ZenTilt camera head, an aggressively marketed Z-type bracket which, it is claimed, enables you to move your tripod-mounted camera from landscape to portrait format and other orientations with the minimum of fuss.
The unit is about the same size as a table coaster and is made from tough but lightweight (382g) aluminium. As for the weight-bearing capabilities, the makers claim it can support 3kg, which seems a bit on the optimistic side, but more on this later.
The ZenTilt screws onto a standard tripod via its bottom plate and is then connected to the tripod bush on the bottom of your camera via a knurled wheel. The ZenTilt’s arms can then be pulled out and adjusted as necessary. At this stage, there isn’t enough support for your camera at different orientations, so you also need to tighten some Allen nuts to ensure maximum stability.
Basically, the ZenTilt works, and the unit seems well engineered, but there are some caveats. We noticed straight away that the device is inherently more stable when it’s straight up or the camera is in portrait position, for instance. In a nice warm studio, you don’t mind turning knurled wheels or faffing around with Allen keys, but it could be a different story when you have seconds to get a shot, or have cold fingers – and if you’ve forgotten the Allen key, it’s a real problem. That 3kg weight limit seems on the optimistic side, too, and even with the Allen nuts fully tightened, a Canon 5D Mark III with 24-105mm lens felt at the very limit of what we could get away with. For SLRs with smaller prime lenses, however, or mirrorless cameras and lenses, the ZenTilt could be a neat solution, particularly for travel and landscape photographers.
ZenTilt camera support – key features
Tough but light
The unit is reasonably lightweight at 382g
Adjustable legs allow you to shoot at different orientations after tightening Allen nuts
That’s the spirit
A built-in spirit level is a neat extra to ensure everything lines up
A sturdy knurled wheel enables you to screw the ZenTilt to the tripod bush on your camera
ZenTilt camera support – our verdict
This is a reasonably useful tripod accessory for lighter camera set-ups, so long as you don’t mind fiddling around with Allen nuts. The distributor’s site trumpets a massive price cut from a frankly exorbitant $149.99 to a much more sensible $56. This is still just over £40, however – not so great when you consider that there is a wide choice of similar looking Z-type brackets on eBay and Amazon at rather lower prices. Our advice is to shop around.