The Manfrotto 501 plate, Xerox of tripod plates? at

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Old January 4th, 2016, 04:58 PM   #1
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The Manfrotto 501 plate, Xerox of tripod plates?

I'm curious about the Manfrotto 501 plate, which seems to have become the Xerox of camera plates, as I see more and more secondary manufacturers (ok mostly Chinese) make quick release plates in this size.

Is this a patented Manfrotto item and the Chinese are just knocking it off for the sake of simplicity?

Or did this size/shape plate exist before the 501 and Manfrotto just adopted it? I can remember it as long as I've owned a video camera, so it's before my time anyway!

I know the (Arri type) dovetail plate is somewhat universal now and everyone makes one. Is the 501pl the same deal and it just wasn't that popular until recently?

Anyway... just curious if anyone actually knows. I did a quick search to see if there was a patent on it but couldn't find anything (my Google-fu isn't that great though).
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Dylan Couper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 4th, 2016, 10:12 PM   #2
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Re: The Manfrotto 501 plate, Xerox of tripod plates?

Hi Dylan............

I can't shed any light on the exact provenance of the 501PL, though it perhaps originated with Manfrotto, though (and not a lot of people know this) it could more likely have been a Sachtler design, as these plates fit their slot load heads perfectly, and they beat Manfrotto to the market for video supports by at least a decade.

If you add up all the Manfrotto and Sachtler heads that use this plate, dating back to year dot, it makes sense if you're going to knock off a "generic" plate for the mass market, that would be the one to go for.

Is it patented? Probably, but why would anyone want to fight such a patent infringement, heck, the knock off support users are using Manfrotto plates, why kick up a stink?

I can't imagine it existed before Manfrotto/ Sachtler, as Sachtler was one of the first into the pan/ tilt cine then video head market way back when, like the mid/ late 1950's. No need for a QR plate before then, basically.

I'll be intrigued as to what other info comes in.


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