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Review: Peak Design Capture PRO Auto-Latching Camera Plate System

The Peak Design Capture PRO system is great for "hybrid" shooters tasked with covering events where you need to have your camera at the ready at all times, such as walking around covering everything that happens at a large event, but still need to be able to quickly put it on the tripod for a speech or talking head.

Video cameras and tripods have had automatic latching plates for decades. Still cameras also have automatic latching systems, but they are not nearly as common. If you wanted a system that worked for both on-body quick release, and on a tripod, with automatic latching of your DSLR in both places, you could hardly find any solution to fit your needs. But Peak Design's Capture PRO system features both quick release and automatic latching. Moreover it can be used both on your body and on a tripod, which means that "hybrid" shooters can more easily and safely mount their camera wherever needed.

Kickstarting the Capture

When I saw the original Capture on Kickstarter I contributed immediately. I had been looking for a way that I could easily and safely carry my DSLR on my belt for some time. I was not happy with over-the-shoulder slings, or systems that let my expensive camera gear dangle and bounce around. I wanted it secure, and I wanted a very positive grip-and-release system.


The original Capture on Kickstarter.com

The original Capture features an on-camera, Arca-Swiss-compatible plate. This plate was designed to work with all the existing Arca-Swiss ball heads on the market, and there are plenty of them available from numerous manufacturers. As I awaited my Capture clip, I looked forward to having one plate that I could use for body and tripod mounting.

When I got my Capture system, I loved it. It did everything I wanted it to do and it did it very well. It was a very solid system. But when I went to put my camera on my ball-head, I found that it could easily slip through because it lacked the dual pins on the bottom of some Arca-Swiss plates that prevent the plate from slipping out the front of the mount. Moreover, while I held the camera in place, it took a second hand to screw down a dial to lock the camera into place. This requirement is very unlike what videographers are used to.

The Video Way

No matter if it's a big motion picture camera, an on-shoulder ENG camera, or even a handycam with a Manfrotto plate, videgraphers are used to simply setting their camera down into the plate on top of the tripod and having it latch into place--most often, automatically. Yes, the nearly 30-year-old VCT-14 ENG camera plate requires a push, but the latching action is still triggered by the base of the camera. On most plates, the two parts are held apart till the plate on the camera drops into place and then the tripod plate clamps shut.


The Venerable VCT-14 camera plate

So I immediately set out to find an Arca-Swiss system that would automatically latch onto my Capture camera plate. And after weeks of searching the best brands, and many others as well, and seeing so many different ways to manually lock your camera into place, I was disappointed. I immediately petitioned Peak Design, the makers of the Capture system, to come out with a tripod plate that would have a 1/4-20 or 3/8” screw thread on the bottom, and accept the Capture camera plate- latching automatically.

Peak Design responded by adding new plates to their system, including a Dualplate that would also natively work with some Manfrotto tripod heads. They sent me one for review and feedback, but it didn’t match what I was looking for. The problem was that I (like almost all the people in their marketing photos) have my camera facing down when using Capture on my belt. The Manfrotto camera plate is longer on two sides, which means you can slide it into the Capture clip in only two directions. To have the camera face down, the plate has to be turned sideways. This means the camera faces sideways when I put it into a Manfrotto tripod.

If you used your Capture clip differently, then it might work out, but for my purposes, the new plate was useless. I continued to insist that a Capture base needed to be designed expressly for tripod mounting. A multi-use camera plate was not going to be the solution.

Enter the Capture PRO

After a couple years, Peak Design completely redesigned the Capture system. They refined the design, smoothing out the edges, making it lighter and less boxy. They changed the plate construction and even the manufacturing process. Tolerances became much tighter. And they added a screw hole for a tripod on the back of the higher-end model, calling it the Capture PRO. There is a new, less expensive model called Capture that is nearly identical to the PRO, but it lacks a way to mount it to a tripod, just as the original capture did.


The New Capture PRO camera plate and base

Peak Design implemented other changes as well. The underside of the Capture camera plate was changed from a simple screw that could be screwed into the camera with a quarter, to the "Pro Drive" screw with a "D-ring" so you can tighten it without a coin. But it doesn't get as tight as using a quarter, which is unfortunate, because using a coin now is impossible. Knowing this, Peak Design molded the center of the bolt to accept a hex key and they include one in the Capture PRO kit so you can really tighten it down securely. I'd like to see them add a notch on the PRO Drive screw so that we can use a coin to remove the plate in situations when we didn't happen to bring, or can’t find, a hex key that fits the Capture plate.


The new Capture PRO plate (L) and the original Capture plate (R)

Another change was that Peak Design removed a 1/4-20 threaded hole on the bottom of the original Capture camera plate. I can see how the new design has less extra metal to allow that threaded hole, but having used it a few times, in a pinch when I just wanted to use the camera on a Gorillapod but didn't want to bother to take off the plate, having that extra hole came in handy.

The Capture PRO clip mounts well to a tripod plate and the pattern of the back of the clip molds itself into the tripod plate helping it to not slip and turn. There's also a subtle texture to the Capture clip to help with grip. I used it on top of three different tripods during a recent trip and in all cases the Capture clip system worked flawlessly. The camera was always secured well, simply by sliding the camera plate into the Capture clip. There’s a reassuring, audible "click" when the latch pops back into place behind the clip. Be sure to watch the video that shows how easy and fast it is for me to latch and remove my camera.