What is a Platypod? It’s neither plant nor animal, though it does take nomenclature inspiration from the flat-billed mammal who bears a similar name.
“Flat” is the operative word here – Platypod is a highly versatile, highly portable flat tripod base that comes in two varieties. The ‘Max,’ which is in its second incarnation, is meant for DSLRs and large lenses or accessories, and the ‘Ultra’ is the new guy, made for mirrorless and compact cameras. Both require that you bring your own ball head, preferably one without obtrusive knobs at the bottom that will impede the Platypod’s function.
Both Platypods come with four reversible rubber-gripped thumb screws with pointed tips that act as variable-height ‘legs.’ Platypod Max has integrated storage for the screws on its surface, while Platypod Ultra comes with a storage pouch and carabiner.
There is an assortment of labeled holes around the Platypods where screws can be inserted and adjusted. However, screws need not be used, necessarily. The Platypods also include a cut-away meant for a belt or strap that allows you to strap your camera to things like poles and trees that you find when you’re out and about. They also have a screw pattern intended for more permanent mounting.
Coming in at $59 for the Platypod Ultra, $99 for the Platypod Max, all are quite reasonably priced – though the ball head used can significantly increase the cost of the whole set-up if you let it.
It seems a strange thing to say about a piece of hole-y metal, but the Platypod units are creativity-inspiring. If you played with toys like Tinker Toys or Erector Sets when you were a kid, you might find yourself feeling nostalgic as you dream up new ways to use your Platypod. The toys and the tool are similar in that they are limited only by your imagination, and to hold a Platypod is to be inspired by all the possibilities.
To add to the already plentiful uses, you can purchase a ‘Multi Accessory Kit‘ ($29.) The kit includes a riser with 1/4”-20 screw mount; a silicone pad for use under the Platypod to prevent slips and scratches; a more substantial tension strap than that which is bundled with the Platypod Ultra, and in this reviewer’s opinion, the coolest add-on is a ‘spigot’ for mounting strobes and flashes.
With this kit, the Platypod goes from tripod to versatile bit of grip equipment. Imagine lighting on location with no Light stand or assistant holding your light. Or, you can use it as a floor-level stand for a background or fill light in a studio or fasten it to something tall and use it in place of a boom arm for something like a hair light.
PLATYPOD USE IDEAS
- Mount a GoPro or smartphone, set aside while you shoot and record behind-the-scenes for vlogging, Instagram stories or personal records.
- Remote selfies on location/get to be in the shot with friends or family.
- Mount a camera on a skateboard and use as a DIY slider for video.
- Shoot street/street fashion with a speedlight and no assistant.
- Set a motion-trap with the Platypod firmly affixed to something immobile like a log and capture wildlife.
- Use in place of a boom for lighting that must be placed at a high angle.
- Tabletop tripod for product/food/still-life.
- Longer exposures anywhere a tripod is not allowed.
This list is but a handful of notions of what you can do with a Platypod, and the limit is your imagination.
- Lightweight and portable
- Easier to transport for air travel than a full-sized tripod
- Potential loophole to anti-tripod zones
- Screws are a little ‘fiddly’ to try to adjust and aren’t the fastest thing to change
- Black paint scratches easily
Both Platypods are unique and useful innovations with infinite possibilities, and neither will break the bank if you decide to pick one up. If you are a DSLR user or use big lenses, look into the Platypod Max. If you’re a mirrorless or compact camera shooter or are looking for an accessory to use with a smart phone, check out the Platypod Ultra. For either, the Multi Accessory Kit is a worthy addition that will open up even more potential uses.
The Platypod Ultra, Max, Multi Accessory Kit, and various combinations can be found at B&H.
Do you have a Platypod? What are your favorite things to do with yours, or what would you like to try?