At the Interbee show, specialist Japanese accessory maker Technical Farm were showing a range of new lightweight tripod plates that feature built-in 15mm rods.
The new TF-Φ15 plates can be bought in different types to match tripods from Sachtler, Vinten and Manfrotto. Each plate is a single piece and is designed primarily for when you are using cameras where you need to put a battery or counter weight on the back of a tripod mounted setup.
The basic design of the TF-Φ15 plates is the same apart from the different integrated wedges on the bottom that match your specific tripod system. By having dedicated plates you can be sure they will securely attach to your tripod head.
The rod holes actually run all the way through the plate, so you can run long rods all the way front to back if you want. This allows for the mounting a matte box or follow focus on the front, and a battery or monitor at the back. The plates are super lightweight and weigh in at under 300g.
The disadvantage of having the rods integrated with the plate is that your camera is unlikely to be at the correct height to allow the use of standard rod mounted matteboxes or lens adapter supports. You will need whatever supports you use to be height adjustable, and even so lower profile cameras may not have enough clearance between the rods and a the lens to allow proper mounting.
Despite the lack of height adjustment the plate has been well thought out and beautifully made. It is certainly the simplest and most secure way to attach rods to your tripod setup. The only other downside is the price, with Technical Farm charging 43,000JPY ($387US) for the TF-Φ15.