Review – Atoll Lens Rotating Collar

Introduction

Over the years, like most photographers, we’ve had our fair share of gadgets. Some we use a lot and others not so much. These days we don’t tend to use that many gadgets except for an L-bracket on our camera bodies, the Lenskirt which in our genre of photography is invaluable and several of the products by Peak Design such as the LensKit and Capture Clip.

The L-bracket attached to our camera bodies is probably the most practical gadget we use. The bracket lives on the camera and not only provides a practical solution to easily mounting the camera on a tripod in both portrait and landscape orientation but also some added protection from accidental bumps. The only downside to the L-bracket we use is that the vertical side of the bracket makes it difficult to access the connection ports on the left-hand side of our Sony cameras. The only other negative with L-brackets in general is the need to remove the camera from the tripod when changing from portrait to landscape orientation (or vice-versa) unless you are using a telephoto lens that is equipped with a lens collar that allows you to rotate the lens without removing.

Nevertheless, we have always been extremely happy using the L-bracket on our cameras. However, have the bright sparks at Silence Corner recently thrown a spanner in the works when they launched their Atoll product on Kickstarter in 2022?

Silence Corner was kind enough to send us the Atoll – Model S for this review and although we received the product free of charge, this post is an unbiased review.

Will this innovative product replace our L-bracket? Read on…

Silence Corner Atoll

Above: Sony A7Riii + L -bracket in landscape orientation.
Hover over the image for a magnified view

Above: Sony A7Riii + L -bracket in portrait orientation
Hover over the image for a magnified view

So, what is an Atoll?

The Atoll essentially performs the same role as a lens collar that is commonly found on telephoto lenses. The lens collar is used on heavier lenses when using a tripod to shift the weight forward and take the strain of weight from the base of the camera where it is attached to the tripod. However, the lens collar is made specifically for one lens. The Atoll product is basically an adaptation of this concept – it connects to the camera body instead which then allows you to use the product with most lenses. So, in theory, you are gaining a lens collar for ALL your lenses. Unlike an L-bracket that only provides a fixed 0° or 180° position on the tripod, the Atoll will allow you to free-rotate the camera and lens by 180° with clicks at 0°, 90°, and 180°. As it is free-rotating you could select any angle you wish between 0° and 180°.

Urth Discount

When would you use the Atoll?

The Atoll has primarily been designed for Landscape Photographers but really anybody that shoots using a tripod would find this product extremely useful. Let us know in the comments about other genres of photography that may find this product extremely useful.

We’ve all been in a situation where changing the orientation of the camera in the dark can be a little frustrating and time-consuming so this product would also be extremely useful for night photography. If you currently use an L-bracket then this could replace it altogether so theoretically it can be a permanent attachment to your camera. In essence, an L-bracket and Atoll will achieve the same result albeit the Atoll is faster when changing the orientation of the camera.

Can I use this with all my lenses?

It will work with most lenses but not every lens eg. tilt/shift lenses. As long as the outer diameter of the lens will fit within the inner diameter of the Atoll for the model that you purchase.  Make sure you check the compatibility with your camera and lens.

Atoll - Lens Compatibility

Above: Image taken from the Silence Corner Atoll Kickstarter page

Peak Design Travel Tripod
Urth ND64 + CPL Polarizer Filter Plus+

Above: Atoll packaging – Front View

Atoll - Rear View

Above: Atoll packaging – Rear View

The Product

The Atoll – Model S arrived in a nicely packaged rigid recyclable box. The box dimensions are 12.2cm (W) x 12.8cm (H) x 9.8cm (D). 

Inside the box are two thick pieces of rigid black foam that sandwich the product. There is absolutely no way that the product will get damaged in transit if purchased online. Included in the box are the following –

  • 1 x Atoll
  • 1 x Standard Plate (Extender Plate is included in Model D)
  • 1 x “How to use Levelling Stickers” instruction card
  • 1 x Circular “Silence Corner” sticker
  • 1 x User Manual
  • 1 x 3mm Allen Key
  • 1 x 4mm Allen Key
  • 1 x Levelling Stickers
  • 4 x attachment screws
Peak Design Everyday Sling Bag

The Atoll is constructed with high-strength aluminium alloy and coated with hardened chrome and is extremely light weighing in at 100g/3.53oz for Model – S, 108g/3.81oz for Model – C, and 116g/4.09oz for Model – D

There are 3 different models of the Atoll to cater for different camera bodies.

Model – S is designed for most Sony Mirrorless cameras. Includes the Standard Plate. Some models such as the Sony a6XXX series may require the Heightening Plate.
Model – C is designed for some mirrorless, non-Sony cameras. Includes the Standard Plate. Some models may require the Heightening Plate.
Model – D is designed for some non-mirrorless cameras. This model includes the Extended Plate.

VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure to check the compatibility of your camera model and lenses that work with the Atoll. Also, it is recommended that you use the lens collar on heavier lenses rather than the Atoll, so if your lens has its own lens collar, then use it. Silence Corner recommends that any lens over 200mm or heavier than about 1 kg / 2.2 lbs should use its own lens collar.

Above: Image taken from the Silence Corner Atoll Kickstarter page

Atoll Heightening Plate

Above: The Heightening Plate (sold separately)

Atoll Extended Plate

Above: The Extended Plate (sold separately) but is included with the Atoll – Model D

Topaz Labs

Attaching & Using the Atoll

The Atoll can be a little bit fiddly to attach to the camera body but you should only have to do this once.

  1. You will need to first remove the lens from the camera body and as a precaution, we found it safer to attach the body cap to the camera during this process to protect the sensor.
  2. Attach Atoll to the tripod mount on the base of the camera. You may want to make some adjustments using the supplied Allen Keys so that the Atoll is aligned with the centre of the lens mount
  3. Two further screws are located at the front of the Atoll which can be loosened to further adjust the position of the collar
  4. You may want to consider adjusting the Atoll to sit a little further forward on the lens as on some camera models, especially the Sony mirrorless cameras, there is a reduced amount of room between the camera grip and the Atoll collar. So, those of you with large fingers may struggle with enough room for your fingers on the camera grip. This may not be an issue for you if you’re primarily taking shots on a tripod.
  5. Once the Atoll has been aligned you can remove the body cap and attach a lens
  6. To rotate the Atoll simply loosen the knob on the side of the ring and free-rotate the Atoll to the desired position and then tighten the knob.
Adobe Creative Cloud Photography

Using the Atoll on a tripod is no different to using a standard Arca Swiss plate however you will notice that it will slide into the Arca Swiss clamp sideways.

We use the Peak Design Travel Tripod and the L-bracket attaches with the clip of the ball head at the rear of the camera, however, with the Atoll attached we needed to attach it sideways so that the clip was on the left side. We would assume that it will attach the same way in all Arca Swiss quick releases. This is probably better explained in the images below and make sure you hover over the image for a magnified view.

Once fitted, if the camera does not sit level on the base plate then use the Levelling Stickers to correct the level. The instructions for installation are included in the box.

When the camera is being handheld you may want to consider rotating the Atoll so that the attachment plate is positioned to the side or even the top position, whichever is less intrusive to your handholding preference.

Please Note: If you use a tripod that does not use the Arca Swiss method of attachment simply attach your tripod quick-release plate that you would normally attach to the base of your camera to the Atoll. To take portrait shots you will no longer need to tilt the tripod ball head to one side of the tripod which makes it extremely unstable.

Click here for any other information regarding the installation of the Atoll such as “Installing the Heightening Plate”. 

Skylum Luminar Neo

Above: Attaching the camera to a Peak Design Travel Tripod using an L-bracket.
Hover over the image for a magnified view

Above: Attaching the camera to a Peak Design Travel Tripod using an Atoll.
Hover over the image for a magnified view

Above: The Atoll in Landscape orientation.
Hover over the image for a magnified view

Above:  Loosen the silver rotating knob to quickly rotate the lens and camera to Portrait orientation and then tighten the silver knob.
Hover over the image for a magnified view

Above: Attach your tripod quick-release plate to the Atoll if not using an Arca Swiss attachment on your tripod.
Hover over the image for a magnified view

Above:  The quick-release plate is then attached to the tripod.
Hover over the image for a magnified view

Peak Design Slide & Slide Lite Strap

Positives (+)

  • Immediately the one feature we like about the Atoll over an L-bracket is that you can now easily access the camera ports on the left side of the Sony camera. This allows you to use a wired shutter release unhindered by the L-bracket in both horizontal (landscape) and vertical (portrait) orientation. This has always been a bugbear for us when using the L-bracket in a vertical orientation leading us to rely on a wireless remote which is not always ideal.
  • The Atoll can be disassembled so that you can attach the ring permanently to your camera without the main tripod attachment. When you want to take vertical (portrait) shots you will need to reassemble or tilt the tripod head to the side (which defeats the purpose of the Atoll but is still an option).
  • Unlike an L-bracket, when using heavier lenses such as our Sony 24-105 f/4 lens, the camera and lens will sit level when on a flat surface making it ideal for those shots where you may not be able to use a tripod. This is due to the centre of gravity moving further forward on the base compared to an L-bracket which is concentrated under the camera body
  • We have tried it with ALL our lenses and it works perfectly with them all with the exception of the Laowa 15mm f/2 Zero-D lens. This lens has a de-clicking aperture switch on the lens which impedes the Atoll. This can be corrected by moving the ring back towards the camera body.
  • The product is well-designed and constructed with quality materials in fact the Atoll was an award winner at the Reddot 2022 Awards for Most Innovative Product
  • Ideal for shooting in low light and at night
  • Shooting low to the ground using a tripod with an inverted centre column is simple – and there’s no need to operate the camera upside down anymore. Once the camera is at the desired height just rotate the Atoll.
  • When changing from horizontal to vertical orientation the centre point of the lens will remain unchanged 
  • The Atoll will not interfere with a camera with a fully articulating LCD screen, unlike an L-bracket
  • You will no longer need to install the camera battery door cover on some L-brackets. 

Check out the short video below outlining the benefits of the Atoll over the use of an L-bracket.

Negatives (-)

There’s not much that we don’t like about the Atoll but no product is perfect.

  • Once attached there can be some limited space for the fingers between the camera grip and the Atoll (Sony). This may be an issue for some (not for us), however, as mentioned above, if you are mainly shooting on a tripod then this should not be an issue. This may vary depending on the camera model.
  • You may have to adjust the Atoll for some lenses to allow enough room to depress the lens release button. This is the case with our Laowa 15mm f/2 Zero-D lens due to the aperture de-clicking switch on the lens.
  • Unlike an L-bracket, the Atoll is not as streamlined to the camera body and doesn’t give the camera body as much protection. 
  • If used in any other type of photography that doesn’t consistently use a tripod the Atoll can be slightly intrusive compared to an L-bracket
  • Atoll is not compatible with every lens and you may require an extender or heightening plate for your camera model. Click here to check the compatibility of your camera and lenses.
  • A bit expensive compared to an L-bracket but cheaper than some brands of lens collars in the marketplace

Conclusion

This is a fantastic product that, in our opinion, would be beneficial for any Landscape or Night Photographer. 

Many photographers may find that the limited space between the camera grip and the Atoll is a dealbreaker, however, if the camera is held in the correct manner with most of the weight being held under the lens by the left hand then this should not be an issue for many lenses. On shorter lenses, the right hand takes most of the weight and this is where there may be an issue if you have large fingers.

The L-bracket has always been sufficient for us but for night/low light shots when it can be awkward to remove the camera from the tripod to change the orientation then the Atoll is certainly advantageous in our photography.

It has the added flexibility to disassemble so that the ring remains permanently on the camera while providing the ability to still take horizontal tripod-mounted shots. To take a vertical shot would require a quick reassembly of the Atoll, and although it doesn’t take long, it would take longer to reassemble than the time to change orientation with an L-bracket.

At this stage, until we spend a whole day in the field with the Atoll attached we are undecided as to whether this ingenious device will completely replace our L-bracket, however, with initial testing that we have completed it looks very promising. We will update this post when it has been fully field-tested. Stay tuned!

Photography Planners

Price

At the time of writing this post, the Atoll is priced as follows –

Adorama

Atoll Model S, C, or D  USD$109.00 

Atoll Heightening Plate  USD$17.95 

Atoll Extender Plate USD$19.95 

Australia

If you are living in Australia please contact us for the best price as we are resellers with the distributors of this product. Delivery can only be made to Australian postal addresses.

Rest of World

Check with your nearest stockist or purchase from Adorama with the links above or from Silence Corner directly.

If purchasing directly from Silence Corner click on the banner below and use the discount code ‘widescenes10‘ to receive a 10% discount. They often have the item on sale and the discount can be still applied. The prices on their website are quoted in USD$. At the time of writing the Model S, C, & D are  USD$109.00 / GBP£88.50 / AUD$154.00 / Euro€100.00 / CAD$145.00. The 10% discount has not been applied to these prices.

Silence Corner Atoll

RATED: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED