Newton Camera Brackets
A Solution for Kodak DCS Users
By: Tom DeRousie - Modern Imaging

Anyone appreciating the benefits of using a flash bracket most likely misses that capability when using the large 35mm type digital bodies such as the Kodak DCS-520/560, 620/660, 720x/760, and 315/330 cameras.   Finding brackets that work well with these cameras is not easy due to their larger than normal size.

Having used a flash bracket with my 35mm film systems for years, I missed the speed and convenience of keeping the flash centered over the lens in both horizontal and vertical shooting positions when using my Kodak DCS-520/560 cameras.

The DCS-520 is shown here mounted on a Bachrach Bracket manufactured by JHB Photo Equipment (Medfield, MA).  As you can see, the flash bar cannot fully position itself due to the excessive height of the camera.  Also, the battery/storage card bay door cannot open at all with this design.

Robert Newton of Newton Camera Brackets in Jacksonville, FL set out to design and manufacture a set of custom flash brackets for these and other digital cameras.  Newton’s design involves rotating the camera rather than the flash mount.

The above illustration from the Newton Camera Brackets web site shows how the camera rotates and the flash stays stationary.

The build to order bracket took about 2 weeks to receive.  When ordering, you must specify your camera and flash unit so that the correct, custom designed components are shipped.  As with other flash brackets, an off camera flash shoe is needed (such as the Canon Off-Camera Shoe Cord 2).

The bracket is built with black anodized aluminum and weighs-in at a hefty 1.4 lbs.  One of the primary objectives in designing a bracket for these cameras is to keep it lightweight since the complete rig (camera, lens, flash, etc.) can get quite heavy.  In the case of the Kodak DCS-520, 550EX Speedlite, 28-70 f/2.8L lens and accessories (memory cards, camera battery, flash cord), the complete rig weighs-in at a whopping 9 lbs.  For comparison, the Bachrach Bracket shown above weighs a mere 9-3/4 oz. making the Newton Bracket almost 2.5 times heavier.

The DCS-520 is shown here mounted on the Newton Di500CR Bracket with the Canon 550EX Speedlite.

Another objective was to keep the bracket small.  Having a rig this heavy can be quite awkward if the bracket is big and clumsy.  Robert Newton has come up with one of the most compact and well balanced brackets I have ever seen as a result.

The bracket is manufactured with 6061T (very tough) aluminum.  It is cut from angle stock and/or milled, there are no bent corners that would potentially weaken the design.


Out of the Box and In Use

My first impression was confusion!   The Newton bracket is unique in the way it looks and in the way that the camera mounts to it.  There were very helpful and comprehensive instructions in the box along with illustrations that made assembly a snap.  The only assembly required is to mount the flash adapter on the bracket (since it is a separately sold component), raise the flash arm up (it is adjustable up or down for shipping/storage convenience), mount the camera plate to the camera, and finally, mount the camera to the bracket.

The box contents, shown here, include the Di500CR bracket, an adapter plate for mounting the camera to the bracket, two 1/4-20 socket head screws (one for mounting the camera to the adapter plate, the other for mounting the off camera shoe/cord to the bracket), three hex key wrenches, and an instruction sheet.  Also included was the N7037 flash adapter plate (ordered separately).  The flash kit included another socket head screw and hex key wrench.

When handling the precision machined components, I quickly observed what I consider to be unacceptable sharp edges.  Some of the cut/machined edges were heavily radiused/rounded, however, there are still many edges with very sharp corners/edges.  Once the camera is assembled on the bracket, the weight of the rig makes getting injured/cut a seemingly likely occurrence, especially if holding the rig by the vertical riser for the flash head when carrying.

Next, I found that mounting the camera to the bracket requires the use of loose screws and hex wrenches.  Once you mount the camera plate to the camera, placing or removing the camera on/from the bracket does not require the use of wrenches.  However, since the machined edges of the plate are so sharp, I would not want to keep it on the camera when not used with the bracket.  If you normally only use your camera on the bracket, this is not a big deal.  For me, it is an unnecessary hassle to have to carry a tiny hex wrench and keep track of a loose screw floating around in my case when not screwed into the tripod mount of the camera.  This really should be accomplished by using a self-retaining thumbscrew (no wrenches required).

Mounting the camera to the adapter plate requires the use of a loose screw and hex key wrench each time unless you opt to keep it on the camera at all times (even when not using the bracket).

Now that the camera is mounted to the bracket, my first observation is that the L-shaped indexing mechanism blocks the zoom ring of my 28-80/2.8L lens.  This is especially true with the camera in the horizontal orientation.  I will now have to break the habit of reaching for the ring with my left thumb and forefinger and learn to “rub” the top of the ring with my fingers only.   A minor inconvenience, but I am sure I will get accustomed to it in due time.  The same observation was found with my 17-35/2.8L lens.

The zoom rings of the Canon 28-70/2.8L and 17-35/2.8L lenses (probably others as well) is partially blocked by the rotating mechanism of the Newton Bracket.   Zooming the lens requires rubbing the zoom ring from the top only rather than gripping it as usual.

What about non-zoom lenses?  Well, my 50/2.5 Macro works fine as did my Sigma 14mm and 15mm lenses.  However, my 80/1.2L hits the bracket just under the lens which causes the camera to deflect back.  This creates stress on the lens mount that I consider to be unacceptable.  My 200/1.8L lens would not even begin to mount, but I probably wouldn’t be using that lens on this bracket too often anyway.

The Canon 85/1.2L lens rubs the bracket assembly and causes angular stress on the lens mount.  It probably should not be used with this bracket since a very costly repair is possible.

I have never seen a flash bracket move the flash so far forward of the camera’s hot shoe mount as the Newton bracket.   The Bachrach bracket keeps the flash within an inch of the camera’s hot shoe position.  The Newton brings the flash over 4-1/2” forward from the hot shoe position!   The reason for this is to keep the flash clear of the user’s hand when flipping the camera from the horizontal to vertical orientation.  The instructions recommend mounting the flash plate so that it extends forward, thus keeping the flash clear of busting knuckles when rotating the camera.  My main concern with this design was that lens flare would result on shorter bodied/wider angle lenses.  This concern proved to be unfounded even with the ultra wide Sigma 14mm lens shot in both vertical and horizontal orientations and with the flip-down diffusion screen on the 550EX flash.  This test was performed on both the 520 and 560 cameras since the 560 has a wider field of view vs. the 520.

The Newton Bracket positions the flash 4-1/2” forward of the camera’s hot shoe.  This didn’t seem to cause any noticeable flare on the widest angle of lenses including the Sigma 14mm shown here.

The flash is raised about 3-5/8” above the camera’s shoe height making the flash to lens center height about 11 inches.  Flipping the camera from horizontal to vertical keeps the lens center in approximately the same position so this height is consistent in both positions.  Kudos all the way here!

Full access to both sides of the camera is maintained.  This means that the battery/card bay door is not hindered, nor is the Firewire/power ports on the opposite side.  The vertical grip/release is hindered (rendered nearly useless), but not a big concern in the grand scheme of things.  Overall, the design of the camera mounting was very well thought out for the above reasons.

The design of the Newton Bracket allows unhindered access to the battery/storage card bay as well as the Firewire and power ports on the opposite side.

And now for the bracket’s best feature, flipping!  Indexing this bracket is a pure joy.  There are no locks to mess with yet it stops solidly in each position.  Flipping from horizontal to vertical or back takes less than 1 second!   This bracket is fast and natural feeling.   Without a bracket, we rotate the camera by twisting our right wrist while holding the camera in the same hand.  The exact same motion is used to flip the camera with the Newton bracket.  The left hand holds a comfortable cushion grip directly below the lens (an unusual placement), thus keeping the bracket in the same position throughout the rotation process.

Flipping the camera on the bracket is excellent.  It couldn’t be faster or easier.  Notice the swiveled position of the flash head is maintained in both positions for bouncing. 

Much of my photography involves bouncing flash off nearby walls and/or ceilings.  Since the Newton bracket keeps the flash in the same position throughout the indexing, there is no need to reposition the swivel head of the flash unit upon rotating the camera from the horizontal to vertical shooting position.  This makes this setup much faster than having the flash on the hot shoe, as well as faster than many other camera brackets that are designed to flip the flash arm rather than the camera itself (thus pointing the flash in a different position relative to the camera).

When setting the camera/flash/bracket combination on a flat surface, the whole rig balances perfectly on the bracket’s bottom plate.  This plate also features a threaded hole for tripod mounting.  This balance assures optimum stability on the tripod.

The whole rig balances perfectly on a flat surface.  Notice that the battery/storage card bay door is fully accessible even when the camera is mounted on the bracket.




Excellent flipping, very fast and positive
Flash orientation maintained for bouncing off nearby wall/ceiling
Excellent balance on tripod and when rested/set on flat surface
Side access doors not hindered (battery/storage cards/power and data ports)
Precision Machined
Very durable, strong and compact design
Excellent flash height
Center of lens position maintained in both horizontal and vertical orientations


Loose screws and wrenches required to assemble camera onto bracket
Sharp edges on many areas/components
Bracket design hinders use of zoom ring on Canon lenses
Bracket design prohibits the use of some larger diameter lenses including the Canon 85/1.2L
Rather Heavy

Overall, this bracket is a well thought out, excellent design.  I do find some of the “Cons” to be major (yet correctable), therefore my recommendation is to carefully consider your application before purchasing.  The prohibiting nature of the design (hindering the use of the zoom rings and completely prohibiting the use of some lenses) may prove to be unacceptable for your application/needs.  Be forewarned, it is an expensive solution (Cost of unit as shown: $303.40, including $6.00 UPS Ground shipping from Florida to Michigan).

For more information:
(888) 417-5370 Toll Free
(904) 725-0248 Local (Jacksonville, FL)