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Z Vise portable Vise review

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The Z Vise mounted upside down on the bench.

Rather than bore you with words, I suggest you watch the following video to really see what the Z Vise is about. Talk about versatile, it has over 20 functions, some of them very clever indeed. Watch the vid and I’ll discuss the vise afterwards

As you can see it’s an impressive bit of kit. True, the guy demonstrating the vise is a consummate pro and has obviously done this a few times but there’s no denying that the Z Vise could come in very handy.

There are a few issues. For example, it seems like a vise like this is the answer for those who sail, the perfect tool for holding stuff while you work. This is true in a sense but don’t forget that to make the most of this tool, you do need a surface to put it on. What I mean is, you could attach it to almost anything but many of the vise’s functions require that there is a good surface behind the vise to support the material you are holding. Mind you, even without a work surface the Z Vise is still very useful.

There is a handle that is used to tighten the vise, it is not fixed which means that the vise can be used even in the centre of a work top, although this does make using it a little awkward. As in most things there’s a knack to it but if you do the vise up tight, you may find that one 3/4 turn is not enough to release the work. The best is to place the vise at the end of a square table. If the table has rounded ends you won’t be able to clamp it near enough to the edge to get the handle to swing 360. Perhaps it would have been better if they had extended the handle a couple of inches at the cost of a little less portability?

The Z Vise comes in a plastic case. The pieces are cleverly packed so there is little wasted space but there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s a big package although not excessively heavy.

It’s strong. It might be made from alloy but it’s well designed and made from quality metal. Besides it carries a lifetime guarantee that says much for the product. However I suspect that most people buy a Z vise after seeing a demo like this at a DIY show and feel that they have to have it but then barely use it. This is probably the reason why there are so many for sale on ebay and similar sites. There’s no need to buy a new one when there are so many out there in perfect unused condition! I bought mine for £80, it was old but in an ‘as new’ condition.

Since I’ve had the Z Vise I have used it a lot. It is a brilliant and very clever bit of kit. I have used perhaps half of the functions. I doubt I will ever use the others but you never know. Just the other day I was short of a clamp so used the Z Vise. It was perfect and I could put a lot of pressure on it. For the price it’s very good value.  Highly recommended.

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Leica m9

Leica M9 emergency battery option

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What was fabulous about the film M Leicas was that they could work even if they had no batteries. You might lose the light meter but you could still take pictures. The biggest problem with digital cameras is that will only work with a battery. If your battery is flat, there is nothing you can do.

Because of this fact, many people carry a spare battery with them only it’s a pain, always remembering to take it with you and knowing where to put it. It could easily get lost or damaged. The solution, at least for the Leica M9 is actually quite simple.

The optional grip that replaces the bottom plate on the M9 could easily be modified to take a slightly smaller battery. This means that you will always have another battery (albeit with reduced capacity) so you never need to miss that shot.

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Lets look a bit closer at the logistics. The outer diameter of the grip is 23mm. Assuming that the thickness of the metal and rubber is no more than 2mm allows an internal diameter of about 19mm. By reducing the M9 battery in width it is possible to make it fit inside the grip handle.

The battery only needs to be reduced in width, the grip is easily tall enough to take a battery the same height. The top of the grip handle could have a screwed thread to gain access to the emergency battery within. A spring (not unlike the one under the battery in the camera body) would push the battery out when the cap is removed.

The emergency battery would still fit and lock in the camera body with no modification necessary to the camera. The one slight issue is the battery charger. The emergency battery would still fit in and charge but would not lock in place. This could be solved by using a plastic frame which would hold the battery in the charger, both easy and cheap to make.

I calculate that the emergency battery would have about 50% of the capacity of the original giving a further 150 or so shots. In other words, a very useful ‘second chance’.

If you didn’t need (or want) to carry an emergency battery in the grip, the empty space could be used for any number of items. Perhaps a small sensor cleaning kit or simply a lens cloth. Even a small survival kit could be carried within. The possibilities are endless!

The only issues I can see is a slight increase in weight. The original battery weighs about 50 grams so I estimate the emergency battery would weigh about 25 grams. Not much extra weight really. The battery charger may have to be modified for the reduced capacity of the emergency battery but maybe not. In any case it would be a simple enough feat for Leica.

I for one would welcome an emergency battery that I could carry at all times in the camera grip. Please comment and if there is enough interest maybe Leica could be persuaded to create it. I did write to them about it and although they were very impressed with the idea are simply too busy to deal with it. Maybe this is something a third party could manufacture. If someone does take up this idea please remember where you saw it first and share your good fortune. We are a non profit making company, please help us to change our status!