I've been a fan of Bright Tangerine's products for some time now, and recently I had the opportunity to field test one of their new goodies - the 'Morrissey' 15mm LWS lens support. Already owning a 15mm lens support, I was keen to see how theirs differed - both for the good and the bad.
Having tried out a number of different lens supports that didn't satisfy my needs, I ended up purchasing a Tilta LS-T05 a few years ago and have been mostly very pleased with it. With Bright Tangerine's excellent product track record, I was keen to see how it compared.
The first thing that struck me when I opened the package is how much larger and heavier the Morrissey is to the Tilta. I weighed the Morrissey in at 186g (including the 3/8" post) which, whilst doesn't sound like much, feels weighty in the hand. This isn't necessarily a bad thing however - clearly it is very well designed and machined and certainly feels reassuring when you're entrusting it with expensive lenses and camera mounts, though it's certainly something to keep in mind when considering a weight-concious camera build.
Unless you already have the Tilta LS-T05, the below table may be of less use to you than I. However, treat the comparison as an illustration of how the Morrissey is compared to a benchmark, relatively standard sized, perfectly acceptable alternative. All dimensions are for just the core - without the support post and exclude protrusions (thumbscrews etc). The weight however includes the 3/8" post in both.
|Bright Tangerine Morrissey||Tilta LS-T05|
(24mm excl accessory mount)
As you can see, it is significantly beefier than the Tilta... as is the price. At £179+VAT, it's a premium product with a premium price tag. This only includes one post - a choice of either 3/8" or 1/4". The pair can be bought for £197 - more than double that of the Tilta. The Tilta also comes as standard with a 3/8" to 1/4" cap and, crucially, a rolling bracket to support lenses without a thread. I have found this bracket to be extremely useful and is something that I would hope Bright Tangerine produce in the near future. Offering two different threaded posts rather than just a cap is a superior option however.
One other major difference between the Tilta and the Bright Tangerine however, is the hole in which the support post sits. The LS-T05 allows for some side to side movement: very useful in aligning the lens support post with the lens' support thread. It of course locks when tightened along with the post height. The Morrissey doesn't allow for any lateral movement however - so if your lens thread is even a millimetre off centre, it'll require a little twisting and squeezing the lens and/or the rods to align the post and the thread. The Bright Tangerine however does offer far superior clearance from the bottom of the lens to the post's lowest height. I measured the support posts' hole in the core to be only 10.6mm above the rods' centre (and therefore only 3.1mm above the top of the rods themselves) whereas the Tilta is 15.5mm over the rods' centre (8mm above the top of the rods). This is important because fatter lenses (or lenses with tripod feet for example) sit much closer to the rods already, sometimes too close for the support post to fit, particularly if it has a 3/8" to 1/4" cap or the rolling bracket on top. Indeed, a number of times I've found myself having to use the Tilta lens support on the rods upside down in order to give myself a little more clearance (the core then sits 1.3mm above the rod centre - between the rods themselves and not above them.) Of course, underslinging a lens support is not as secure as using them properly.
Borrowed from the Morrissey's bigger 19mm siblings, the locking system on the Bright Tangerine is rather unique and certainly looks great. Rather than a thumbscrew type lock, two levers are pinched together (they're held apart by a spring; this keeps the pair in the locked position) and then either pushed forward or pulled back to unlock. Without even touching it, the support is visually obvious whether it's locked or unlocked - and it's only one or the other. No more trying to over tighten a slipping screw! For the most part, it works great. However, because it can be pushed or pulled in either direction, it isn't difficult to accidentally move the lever 'beyond' locked and back to unlocked. I would have to consciously check that the lever was in fact securely locked. It would be great to have a more definitive click or 'snap' to the action to reinforce that it was indeed secure. Alternatively, if the lever were to only open in one direction, I believe this would also solve this minor issue.
On a more positive note however, I love that the support post can come free from the core out of the back and not just out of the top. The post can be screwed into the lens first and then the core slid into position. It's a minor thing but it's the little things like this that, cumulatively, make a great product.
On the whole I was impressed by Bright Tangerine's Morrissey lens support. It is completely in keeping with their usual high build quality, though I must say that perhaps it's so well designed, it could even be considered over engineered. Sometimes something as simple as a lens support doesn't need to try and reinvent the wheel; the Morrissey is a great bit of kit and whilst there are many things that it does better or more efficiently than the Tilta, there are an equal number of things that the Tilta does just as effortlessly with a more simplistic approach. Bright Tangerine's 19mm lens supports are designed for much bigger and heavier lenses in a studio environment and as such, weight isn't really an issue. The Morrissey however is for the 15mm LWS (Light Weight Support) rod system and is more often used for docu, run and gun or generally more compact, lightweight setups and shooting scenarios. I'd love to see a 'Morrissey Atom' - a stripped back version with less weight and less features. Truthfully I didn't use the 3/8" accessory threads and whilst it isn't to say I never would, I feel I'd be more likely to use them with the 19mm supports on larger shoots and would prefer a 15mm LWS support without them. The locking mechanism could also be simplified - either one direction unlocking or, as much as I love the lever system, a thumb screw would suffice.
If you're after a 15mm LWS lens support then I would absolutely recommend taking a look at the Morrissey, however it is a premium product that possibly isn't necessary for everybody - there are cheaper alternatives that perform the same task, albeit perhaps not as elegantly.