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Novoflex Focusing Rack L Tripod Heads and Accessories
An ideal accessory for precise adjustments when used with tripods or the Macro Reprodstand. A new design with further improved rigidity and an integral quick-release adapter (MiniConnect System), it can be mounted on a tripod head or an ARCA SWISS type quick release.
Submitted by Roy Turner a Expert
Date Reviewed: January 28, 2006
Strengths: Rigid, precision construction
Weaknesses: Fixed clamp jaws mean mounting plates must be slid in sideways.
Rail clamp knob is'nt captive
German manufacturer Novofelx call this handy piece of gear 'Castel' and supply it in 2 versions: the Castel-L and Castel-Q according to the kind of clamp fitted. The illustration on this review shows the Castel-L which is for Novoflex's own MiniConnect quick release system.
The version I use (Castel-Q) is for the standard Arca-Swiss quick-release system which allows sideways sliding of whatever's clamped on top. Apart from the clamp, there are no other differences.
Macro users are sure to find this very handy and unless you're committed o the Novoflex MiniConnect system, I'd stick to the Q version. Long plates are available that allow plenty of sideways shift. Novoflex make Arca-Swiss compatible plates (called Q-Base plates) as do Arca, Foba, Kirk, Really Right Stuff and Wimberley.
It's engineered to typically high German standards and the blue-anodized knobs are a nice touch. The rail clamp knob isn't captive however and I guess could become lost. Although the jaws of the clamp soon shows signs of use, the attractive matt grey finish seems hardwearing.
On the bottom of the slide there are three sets of quarter and three-eighths inch tripod mounting screws, but the most useful feature is the profile of the bottom slide, which conforms to the Arca-Swiss standard. This drops into Really Right Stuff lever clamp that's fitted to my Markins ball head, allowing rough forwards and backwards positioning before using the rack itself for precision adjustment.
The rack & pinion movement is smooth and positive and clamps without noticeable sideways shift. The scale (marked in millimetres and numbered in centimeters) is nicely recessed to avoid wear.
The whole unit is 200mm long, 95mm wide and only 32mm high. It weighs 455gm. The lateral shift available (jaw centre fully forward to fully back) is just over 120mm. Using an Arca-swiss clamp on your ballhead will probably double this.
The jaws on the clamp are 65mm wide but are fixed, so mounting plates may be attached only by sliding in from the side. A brass wedge is then driven into the groove of the plate to provide firm clamping.
I would've much preferred moveable jaws opening up enough to allow the mounting plate to drop in from above. If you have safety end-stops on your plates, one or both will have to be removed.
When the clamp is all the way back on the rack, the clamping knob is eay to use. Once you move it forward however, and despite the clearance allowed by the rack profile, the knob is more difficult to turn - especially if you have chubby fingers. That's the minor price paid for a commendably sleek, low-profile design.
The Novoflex Castel-Q is an ideal macro focussing slide and, for panorama work, will double as a nodal point shifter - especially if teamed up with the Novoflex blue-anodized L-plate. Two of these racks can also be used together to provide full lateral and horizontal adjustment.
A professional piece of gear which, for the quality, is good value
Duration Product Used: 21+ years
Purchased At: Speed Graphic UK
Similar Products Used: Really Right Stuff MPR-192 double v-groove multi-purpose rail with B2 Mini-Clamps
Type of photography: Outdoor
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