I switched out my RRS lever clamp for a Hejnar screw clamp on my small tripod after the second RRS lever clamp I bought began acting as badly as the firstWould you care to be more specific about how they began acting badly?
On the first one, the lever moved perpendicular to the normal range of motion and hence would catch on things. It also didn't move cleanly. The second one fails to open and close smoothly and even RRS brand plates seem to be a hair too large for it to close easily--it takes a lot of hand force to close it which is difficult to manage while holding a large lens. I returned the first and got 50% credit toward the second, but was so disappointed with the quality of each that it made no sense to return another for so little credit. After all, I've spend about $200 and have no working clamp to show for it. If their policy was to do a straight exchange for design/manufacturing errors, I might have considered a third. But clearly they didn't work out the bugs before releasing the product and won't stand fully behind it. It's not like I got the only two bad ones right in a row, out of different batches. In fact I checked on that with them before doing the exchange for the first and found they had redesigned the clamp slightly due to similar complaints from others, which is why I tried the second.
Fortunately, Hejnar Photo produces some nice clamps and rails for less. The Hejnar screw clamps, for example, seem to use slightly larger threads on the clamp knob than most brands which means it takes fewer turns to open/close. I prefer that. And Hejnar makes a tremendous variety of clamps and rails, so I was able to find rails that are easily mounted onto a board with multiple attachment points.
A side note on lever clamps: they can be finicky with the camera/lens plates used as they have to be built to tight tolerances--usually they only work with the same brand plates +/- one or two other brands. Mixing brands can lead to headaches. Hence you may want to buy a screw clamp.Yes, except compatibility isn't guaranteed even with screw-on clamps. :-(
True 'nough. But the screw clamps are more forgiving. Most of the Kirk, Wimberley, Hejnar, and RRS plates and screw clamps play together okay in my experience. But thanks for mentioning this since the original inquirer seems interested in the off-brands. I've heard the Markins stuff doesn't play well with the major brands, for example, and I'm sure other readers can chime in with observed incompatibilities.