I'm looking for a fitted plate for my d300. The universal plates just break and have the rubber wear off, and it drives me nuts. The plate will be used with my Benro KS-2, which is an arca-swiss style head. If you guys have any comments about either plate on your experience with the D200 or any other camera, please let me know.
I have RRS L brackets on my D70, D200 and D2H. I'm very happy with them. They never slip and I've never had to tighten one up. I've never used bottom plates on my bodies. AFAIK the Kirks do a good job too. You may want to search the archives; some seem to prefer the finish of the RRS plates over the Kirks. I have a Kirk 300/4 AFS replacement collar and I think it's well built. That's the only Kirk plate I have.
Look for the Markins camera plates. They are small,contoured after the camera and fit well. Also the actual clamping area is square, which means they are bidirectinal and you can fit them to the clamp any way you like. This design means that they cannot be equipped with the small safety stop screws rectangular plates usually have. To me this is a small price to pay for the versatility. Actually, when you don't have the camera on a tripod it turns out to be an advantage. Nothing protuding which might scratch tables etc.
A Markins plate for D300 is on its way. Check them out! I'm been told that they will be available at the Nikonian webshop within a couple of weeks.
For the past few years, Kirk and RRS have more or less been on parity with each other quality wise. I've gotta say though, that RRS may be pulling ahead again (in the old days, they used to be *way* ahead). The L-bracket I got from them for my new D300 is the lightest, best designed plate I think I've had yet. About the only think I'd wish were different is to flare the opening for the ports on the side a bit more so you can get at the covering easier. BJ has already menstioned the slot on the bottom that allows you do slide it over, but it would be nice if you could open the ports better without doing this. And BJ, my Kirk riser won't be seeing much use now either. Finally, an L-plate that allows me to get a USB in there.
I know they can only machine away so much to provide port access. I requested that RRS consider providing a small captive poking tool that can be stored in the base of the L - like the simple tool I made myself from a nylon zip tie but of course not so funky.
This is what I've used with my D200 and I need to make one for the D300's L.
In the D300 forum there are a couple of threads that describe the D300 plate (body only). There's a great new feature for studio shooters. The L-bracket has a slot that allows mounting the bracket with space on the vertical plate side for USB and power connections.
I've had to use Kirk's riser accessory with my D200's L-bracket. The RRS solution is simpler, cleaner and cheaper. I haven't seen a Kirk L-bracket for the D300 so I suppose it's possible they had a similar inspiration.
I prefer the Markins plates. They are bidirectional.
Like you I don't like L-plates. They might be alright for a lot of duties but not all. If you have your equiment set up for macro work or work from a monopod (without a ballhead)you will notice the disadvantages. All lenses with lens collars have the plates aligned with the lens. Most camera plates have the plates square to this. This means that when you change lenses and want to switch from landscape to portrait mode you have to start all over from scratch.
Life would be much easier if all plates were designed to be fastened in the same direction!
Well, for macro work it's a lot less adjustment when you use your L-bracket to change the camera orientation than having to drop your ballhead into its drop-notch. It's also more stable and easier to adjust a ballhead that's not flopped. You also get a lot more range of ballhead motion outside the drop notch.