Multipurpose Arca Rails are among the most versatile, and most heavily used pieces of equipment in our camera bag. To get an idea of some of the uses we've found for them, take a look at our Uses For Arca Multipurpose Rails article. We have previously reviewed the older Hejnar PHOTO A2-80 and G-004 Rails (see review here). Rather than duplicate the same material, we'll focus on the improvements that come with the new rails instead.
Pictured above are the two new rails, both basically different lengths of the same design. The G-004D-080 is an 8" version, and the G-006D-120 is the longer 12" version.
The very first thing you notice about the new rails is the finish. It is less shiny than the older rails we've reviewed, and the finish is flawless – completely gone are the tool marks the older models often featured. Quality and finish wise, these new rails are right up there with the very best of the Arca manufacturers. We couldn't find a single imperfection or tool mark on either rail (or any of the other new gear we are in the process of reviewing from Hejnar PHOTO for that matter). The photo below shows the difference in finish between the new rail (top of picture) and the old rail (bottom of picture). Of course we are bouncing a flash directly off the surface of the rail to exaggerate any imperfections, but on the lower, older rail you can clearly see circular tool marks, smears and fingerprints, and on the top rail you can't.
Then as soon as you pick them up, the second major difference becomes apparent – the new rail is significantly lighter (and therefore easier to carry) than the old. We weighed both. The old rail weighed in at almost exactly 7 oz, the new rail at only 4.4 oz – that's almost 40% less weight. This weight reduction was achieved by making larger pockets on the underside of the rail, as you can see below.
The other interesting new feature, is a ¼" x 20 threaded hole in one end of the rail (can be seen in the top picture). This allows you to attach a clamp, rail, or pretty much anything else to the end of the rail. This will be of particular interest to long lens shooters, since by adding a clamp and the Really Right Stuff CB-YS Lens Support you get this:
By adding the threaded hole to the end of the rail, the slots on top of the rail got a little shorter. This will prevent you from joining two of these rails together using the new Hejnar PHOTO 90° block, but otherwise this shouldn't be an issue (Note: In November 2010 Hejnar PHOTO updated these rails, new part numbers G010-08 and G010-10, to resolve this potential issue).
The older rails were (are) great, and represented a significant value. These new rails are a big step forward (excellent finish, lighter, more versatile etc), and compare very favorably in all areas with rails from other manufacturers, many of which cost significantly more. At the time of writing, the 8" G-004D retails for $44.99 and the 12" G-006D for $79.99. Both are available directly via the .
In the interest of full disclosure, both of the rails used in this article were kindly provided to us by Hejnar PHOTO for review purposes.