During my recent trip to Portland the quick release plate on my Manfrotto ball head malfunctioned - the pin that holds the release lever open and ready for the camera to mount seized shut, meaning the latch doesn't stay open. Im pretty sure the combination of salty air and a small amount of sea water are the culprit. After a few days of hitting it with WD-40 then PB Blaster I had no luck getting the pin to move again.
I figured I could use this as an excuse to finally get myself a new Arca-Swiss compatible head and L-bracket, but I wasn't too excited about replacing the head itself since it was still in excellent condition. After a little bit of searching I found I could simply replace the ball head plate with an adapter, so I settled on a Haoge Combo Boss Adapter. While it doesn't have the quick release clamp like the Manfrotto, I find that during shooting I don't take the camera off tripod enough to make me miss that feature.
The adapter itself is very well built, made from a machined aluminum alloy. The adapter simply bolts in place on the top of the ball head, takes about a minute if you take your time.
The main reason I wanted to switch over to an Arca-Swiss mount was so I could also get a Fotga L Plate Bracket to mount my camera both horizontally and vertically on the tripod. With the normal mount on the bottom of the camera, vertical shots require you to tilt the ball head 90° to the side, which means you lose a good 6" of height. Since I am 6'6" even when the camera is in the normal position I have to crouch a little bit, meaning vertical shots are just flat out awkward for me. With an L bracket I can simply mount the camera on the left side of the body, keeping the eyepiece at a comfortable level.
The Fotga bracket is also very well made, designed specifically for the Canon 5DMkIII. The curved aluminum frame feels unobtrusive while shooting hand held and more importantly the design allows access to all the ports as well as the battery tray without having to remove it.
If I am being honest the thumbscrew on the base plate makes everything feel a bit more secure and tight when the camera is mounted versus the old Manfrotto quick mount. I am still cautious whenever the camera is on the tripod, but I definitely feel a bit more at ease with this setup.
I am very happy with both the Haoge adapter and the Fotga bracket, they fit together perfectly. A great addition to my setup, I am looking forward to being more comfortable shooting landscape panoramas and just having a bit more flexibility with my tripod now.