Converting a Manfrotto 488rc4 ballhead clamp to Arca Swiss

I have wanted to purchase an Arca Swiss style ballhead with a L bracket for my 5D but could never afford it.
My big issue with the manfrotto clamp and Quick Release plate was the size and it just seemed to be a bit wobbly when mounted with a 70-200 F/4 lens.

I kept my eye out on a couple photo forums and found an Arca Swiss clamp (photo clam brand) for $35 and I also found a Kirk BL-5D for $70 in LNIB condition.
I removed the old proprietary manfrotto clamp from my manfrotto 488rc4 ballhead and installed the arca clamp.
It was super easy.
The end result is a smaller setup with a tighter clamp, more versatility and L bracket compatibility.

**Check HERE for an assortment of arca style clamps.** (I am not sure if all are compatible with bogen heads)

Here you can see the massive difference in size between the two clamp/quick release systems.
My old Pentax ME was just a stand in for my 5D. When the L bracket is on the 5D it completely hugs the camera’s curves and becomes a part of the camera.

Here is an image from Kirk’s website that shows how the L bracket hugs the 5D and allows all the doors, flaps, etc.. to open.

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  1. K. Praslowicz 10/05/2010 at 8:27 am #

    Wait a second there Thompson… do I spy a film camera in that photo?

  2. Shawn Thompson 10/05/2010 at 8:49 am #

    Indeed, that is a sweet Pentax ME Super.

  3. Chip Chapin 10/05/2010 at 12:46 pm #

    Very nice, thanks!

  4. ChrisPL 12/23/2010 at 12:24 pm #

    Awesome! Looks perfect! Any suggestions on where to find the photo clam Arca Swiss clamp? I can only find it online in Malaysia somewhere. Comes to about 100 bucks after shipping…

  5. ChrisPL 12/23/2010 at 12:28 pm #

    Kirk also makes one. Kirk QRC-9

    $85 plus shipping on B&H.

  6. Shawn Thompson 12/23/2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    I picked my clamp up from someone second hand. I would either buy the Kirk clamp or this one for $55 if you are on a budget –

  7. Ringo Santiago 02/06/2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Hey Shawn,
    Nice video on the conversion. looking to do this also as my RC4 plate no longer locks automatically. Is the 6mm screw what you used to attach the AS style clamp? Was it threaded for the same size? Would I need to find one with a 6mm hole or would any AS clamp work? I’ll check out your link for the jobu. Thanks.

  8. Shawn Thompson 02/06/2011 at 5:04 pm #

    The 6mm screw came with the photo clam AS clamp. I am not exactly sure what other brands would be compatible.

  9. Michael 09/01/2011 at 12:32 am #

    Please advise where you ordered the Photo Clam AS clamp from? Model number? Thank you!

  10. Shawn Thompson 09/01/2011 at 7:35 am #

    I picked it up on a photo forum used.

    This one from Kirk would work –

    I would think this $40 clamp would work too, but having never tried it I cannot guarantee you.

  11. Tom 04/26/2015 at 4:02 am #

    This should work better than any clamp mentioned. It comes with a male-to-male Boss adapter that fits under the clamp and on top of the ball head connection to make a snug fit before you put the 6mm screw in. They say they include a 25mm long 6mm screw because the original one is too short. My 498RC4 6mm screw is only 14mm long, so they must know what they are talking about, especially with the extra length of the Boss adapter thrown in. Going to order it and see for myself ($33). I Will NOT pay $90 for a Kirk clamp when I could just buy an excellent quality Sirui (or similar) brand new Arca compatible ball head for the same price!!!

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