The "Arca-Swiss Style" Quick-Release Geometry
The "Arca-Swiss Style" Quick-Release Geometry refers to the open-cavity dovetail quick-release system developed decades ago by Arca-Swiss for use with their Monoball ball heads and large format cameras. After the extreme popularity of the Arca-Swiss B-1 ball head in the 1990s, other companies began manufacturing custom camera-body and lens plates using this geometry. Since then, this geometry has become the industry standard for high-end tripod heads (particularly in the nature photography industry). The figure below shows the basic dimensions of the dovetail used in this system:
The Wimberley Head Version II, Sidekick, and other clamps use this quick-release system, so any lens that you wish to connect to our heads must be equipped with an Arca-Swiss style lens plate or replacement foot.
Manufacturers that use the Arca-Swiss Style Quick-Release Geometry include:
Giottos (only on their most recent line of ball heads & plates)
Novoflex (only on some of their products)
Really Right Stuff
The Kirk BH-1 is a slightly less expensive, slightly heavier (2.0 lbs), slightly less capable of holding weight, and slightly less smooth version of the of the Arca B-1. It is still a very nice ball head and well worth the money. Kirk claims that their BH-1 head does not have any of the problems found with the Arca B-1. It seems to be a good solid ball head. Whereas we believe that the Arca-Swiss B-1 can adequately support a 600mm f/4, perhaps the largest lens you should use on a BH-1 would be a 500mm f/4. The Kirk BH-1 comes with a Kirk Arca-Swiss style QR Clamp. This quick-release clamp does not have many of the features of the Wimberley C-10, however.
The Kirk BH-1 that we have locks down admirably. We have had reports from customers, however, that some of these heads do not lockdown adequately. In addition, it is apparently not uncommon for the Loctite that holds the quick-release clamp to the stem of the ball to fail. We were able to loosen the quick-release clamp on our BH-1 by tightening the ball and turning the quick release clamp with a fair amount of force, but with no mechanical assistance.