When you’re shooting tethered on location, it can be hard to find a secure spot for your laptop. You don’t want it on the ground, and chairs are precarious. While I’ve used a laptop table and a platform that mount to a tripod or lightstand, these don’t allow the computer to be secured to anything, and I don’t want to worry about it getting bumped and falling.
I was intrigued by Inovativ laptop plates, which offer a solution. Innovative offers two DigiPlates—Pro and Lite—that have a “cheese-plate” design featuring multiple holes that allow it to be customized. The Lite, evaluated in this review, has a streamlined design that’s sturdy, portable, and customizable.
The DigiPlate Lite is made of 6061 T6 aluminum, weighs about 1.5 pounds, and has 21 holes (standard 3/8"-16 thread size). Some assembly is required, but that’s to be expected with an adjustable-fit product. Helpful instructions are included. After assembling the DigiPlate Lite, I followed the directions on how to attach my laptop using DigiClamps (which were included with the kit I received).
DigiClamps are a set of two metal brackets attach to the DigiPlate with stainless steel thumbscrews. An assortment of plastic shims are provided to customize the fit according to the thickness of your laptop. Inovativ recommends gently squeezing your laptop when the DigiClamp thumbscrew is installed to ensure the computer is secured. Rubber pads protect it from being scratched. While you can use your laptop with the clamps installed, the clamps won’t allow it to close fully.
With the laptop securely attached to the DigiPlate I looked at two mounting options for securing this setup: the DigiBase and the DigiBracket. The DigiBase has a traditional 5/8-inch baby-pin mount that’s compatible with other baby-pin equipment such as C-stands, light stands, clamps, Magic Arms, and Inovativ’s Baby Pin System. The DigiBracket allows the DigiPlate to hook onto the legs of a tripod. I wanted to see for myself how well this mounting method works. I asked the folks at Inovativ if it matters which tripod you use, and they suggested the sturdier, the better. If your tripod can handle the weight of a camera, lens, and laptop, then you’re good to go.
The main concern I had about using the DigiPlate/DigiBracket combination was security. Would I feel comfortable using it on my tripod while photographing? Immediately after attaching my laptop to the DigiPlate Lite, the DigiClamps were reassuringly secure.
However, without more extensive testing, I wasn’t sure about the DigiPlate/DigiBracket setup. It looked reasonably secure, but I wasn’t going to to walk away from my tripod without bringing my laptop, too. Inovativ’s take is that you treat their setup as you do your tripod with a camera attached to the tripod head: If you knock it over, the camera will fall, so it’s up to you to take care. I can appreciate this sentiment.
Over the course of several test runs with the DigiSystem Lite kit, I can say that it’s a fair observation. I wouldn’t use the DigiBracket mounting option when photographing an active child, but I would use it on location while photographing a series of products for a commercial job. If you need to keep your laptop safely off the ground on location, Inovativ’s DigiSystem kits may be a solution that fits your needs.
Inovativ offers a range of products, including full cart workstations with monitor mounts and the works. The DigiPlate Lite is $154. A DigiSystem Lite kit is available with either a DigiBase ($269) or DigiBracket ($289). The more robust DigiPlate Pro is $259. Accessories are also available separately.
Betsy Finn is a portrait artist in Dexter, Michigan.