Have you ever tried to mount your DSLR camera vertically on a ball head, using an L-bracket and using the USB port for tethered shooting, all at the same time? Some time ago, I was watching an episode of D-Town TV where they were using an L-bracket on a tripod in the studio and I instantly knew that I wanted an L-bracket too. On that episode they were shooting horizontally so tethering the USB cable to the computer wasn’t an issue. However, things look different once you try to shoot vertically, let’s say for a portrait. Well, I don’t know about Canon but at least on quite a few Nikon bodies, this is simply impossible. Here’s why. Because there’s not enough space between the USB port and the ball head to plug in a Mini USB cable. I’ve found a perfect solution to this problem and it’s quite a cheap shot.
I got myself an USB-A-female-left-angled-90°-to-Mini-B-extension-cable on eBay. The extension cable is 12 inches (30 cm) long and its plug fits snugly between the ball head and the L-bracket without damaging the cable or the USB port on the body. There’s also a different cable available with a Mini-B plug on the computer side. The extension cable is around 5 bucks including shipping from Hongkong. I got mine from this eBay store. Make sure you don’t buy the short angled cable, you need the 30 cm version.
Obviously, you don’t need an L-bracket in order to shoot vertically on a ball head. Most ball heads allow you to simply tilt the camera vertically on its long side. But you put a lot of strain on your ball head this way, especially if you’re using a telephoto lens and your tripod and/or camera may get unstable because the center of gravitiy is off center. That’s why I prefer to use L-brackets on my DSLR bodies. Here are two screenshots of a Nikon D700 with a Kirk L-bracket mounted and the extension cable running between the L-bracket an the camera body.