Quick-release systems are made up of two elements: the plate that fastens to the camera body or lens bracket and the clamp, which is attached to the tripod head and grips the plate to keep the camera securely attached while allowing it to be removed quickly for alternative shooting styles or setups. The Top Lock plate profile is one that pros will likely recognize, since it will also fit ubiquitous Arca-style quick-release systems. However, in designing the Top Lock system, Manfrotto pushed the standard by adding some extremely practical features to help working photographers. Easier to use during set-up and changeovers, the Top Lock system allows the camera/plate to be dropped in to the top of the clamp unit, which is much faster and more efficient than trying to align and slide it in from the side, especially when juggling heavy camera equipment.
When the Top Lock plate engages with the body of the clamp, a secondary safety mechanism prevents the plate from sliding or rotating out of the head, eliminating the risk of damage to expensive camera gear if the plate is inadvertently left unlocked. Because the camera is already securely supported, the photographer can even safely take his hands off the camera body before locking down the head, which can be done with one hand. Three independent levelling bubbles have been built into the low-profile body of the Top Lock clamp unit to help the photographer level the camera accurately on all axes of rotation. Helping achieve precise in-camera framing ensures that every pixel of the final image is usable and also helps to reduce post-production time spent cropping and correcting rotation or distortion.
Lightweight and easy to carry, the Top Lock clamp is made from light aluminum and stainless steel with no sacrifice in terms of strength or reliability.
Top Lock (MSQ6) is available as an adaptor that can be fitted to existing heads and has a suggested retail price of $149.95. Additional quick-release plates (MSQ6PL) are also available at a suggested retail price of $59.95.Manfrotto is also offering a number of complete ball heads featuring the Top Lock Quick-Release System: three models (MH054M0-Q6, MH055M0-Q6 and MH057M0-Q6) are based on Manfrotto’s premium magnesium ballhead design, while one (468MGQ6) is a new hydrostatic head model. Suggested retail prices are $299.95, $339.95, $399.95, and $339.95, respectively. All models will be available in August 2013.