I have no one to blame but myself. I went to Kyoto's mammoth Yodobashi Camera expecting to just 'find' a good quick-release plate for my Sony a7r, which was going with me to Kyushu for the holidays. By my lonesome, I couldn't navigate my way to the quick plate section. I had to call staff. And only one staff even knew what an Arca-Swiss compatible release plate was. I had to show them my Sunwayfoto FB-44 tripod head for them to figure it out.
"It's Benro, so it's good," was the advice I was given, but not in English. I'm pretty sure nothing was lost in translation. The dude was still teething. I should have stopped right there. What does an electronics shop clerk know about photography and related equipment? I doubt very little. Still, I flipped the stapled plastic back back and forth before reluctantly nodding. The price was pretty good. I had points left on my Yodobashi Gold Card. Woohoo! no cashy money needed.
But I knew what I was putting down for was a pile of steaming shit. Next to most tripods and accessories available at electronics stores, Benro products aren't bad. Next to what I use at work, however, they are steaming piles that never should be considered. I will end up binning this POS and ordering something proper.
You see, I bought the Benro thinking it would work for a few trips here and there. I bought with the sticker price twinkling above anything else. And now I'm proving the age-old adage: you get what you pay for.
Here's why I think it's shit for mirrorless cameras. Its aluminium alloy is too soft. First: its locking bolt tears a new one in its screw channel every time you tighten it into a camera. Next: the rubber mats are too slippery and too thin. They neither hold the plate in place securely, nor do they protect the bottom of your camera from the edges of the plate. All of that adds up to a quick release plate that not only will not hold your camera perfectly still on a tripod, it will damage the base of your mirrorless camera.
Here's what the bottom of my Sony a7r looks like after a week of very light tripod use.
Here's what the bottom of my Fujifilm X-pro 1 looks like after similar use.
Obviously the other problem is today's mirrorless cameras. They lack single-element, single-piece metallic base plates. Both the X-Pro 1 and the a7r fuse a magnesium alloy front plate with a soft plastic back plate that come together in a weak amalgamated seam. In the case of the Sony, the plastic portion of that seam is extremely thin and easily damaged. If I chose to keep using it with the PU50, the plastic plate would crack. The X-Pro 1's base isn't much better. The plastic portion of the seam is sticker and sturdier, but still, it relies on two-elements rather than one. It, too, will crack after prolonged use.
Both Sony and Fujifilm need to rethink their cameras. These are professional-level cameras that are built to substandard levels. And so is the PU50. And obviously, so, too, is my brain. My bread and butter comes from photography but I put out for a cheap base plate, thinking- no, hoping I'd get a deal.
Stupid me. Poo on poor construction, on cheap accessories, and on professional-level mirrorless cameras that make do with substandard support parts.