A while back I reviewed the Platypod Max and recently had a chance to test out the new Platypod Ultra and Multi Accessory Kit. The Platypod system is a must have for any tripod-wielding photographer and is relevant in a limitless number of applications. It's a staple in my kit and gets more use than a tripod in my commercial, event, and journalism work. Here's the latest piece of gear you didn't know you needed to enhance your photography and video work.
I wanted to test the Platypod Ultra out and see where the limit is. It’s designed for more compact cameras and small flashes which is a really awesome use. As for the tech specs:
- Includes: Four heavy-duty spike feet with a storage wallet, a 20-inch hook and loop cinch strap, and a carabineer.
- Weight: 3.2 oz
- Thickness: 4.3 mm
- Dimensions: 5.08" x 3.36"
- Base Material: Aircraft grade aluminum 6061-T6
- Bolt Material: Titanium TA2
The Ultra is super portable making it great for travel, hiking, and in some situations, could replace a tripod. My camera lineup includes a Nikon D4, Nikon D800E, and Nikon D3. Depending on the situation, the D800E or D3 often ends up on a Platypod Max used as a remote camera. Those are not light weight cameras, and simply given the weight of the gear, the D800E with a 35mm f/1.4 lens is about the limit of what I'd feel comfortable using on the Ultra. The Platypod Max is made for larger DSLRs but I would have total peace of mind cinching the Ultra down with a strap. Most cameras will have quite a bit less heft to them, especially with smaller DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, but the Platypod Ultra can do even more with some add ons.
Platypod Multi Accessory Kit
The Platypod Multi Accessory Kit in also a new addition to the Platypod lineup and includes:
- 2mm non-slip silicone pad 4" x 6"
- 3" anodized aluminum spigot adapter 3/8" - 1/4" female-female
- 36" tension strap, 1.5" wide
- 1.5" wide anodized aluminum .05" riser, 3/8 - 1/4" female socket to male bolt
- Drawstring pouch
At first, I wasn't sure how much value the Multi Accessory Kit would bring to using the Platypod Max or Ultra. The adapters are well made and machined, but the non-slip pad seemed kind of gimmicky. I wasn't sure that I'd use any of the included adapters, but quickly found out how much I had underestimated the system.
The first time I put the Multi Accessory Kit into use use was at an outdoor wedding ceremony with steady winds in excess of 20 mph. I mounted a Nikon D800E DSLR as a remote with a 14-24 mm f/2.8 lens to a painted wood column using the Platypod Max, the non-slip pad, and hook and loop cinch strap. It was super secure, didn't budge, and worked without leaving a mark. That gave me total confidence in the setup and made the events manager happy to oblige having a camera strapped to the side of the building on a windy day to boot. The addition of the Platypod and a remote camera help me expand creative capabilities, putting a camera in a new location quickly and securely.
For the other accessories, the spigot adapter opens up the door for more grip and quickly placing lights. The 3/8 - 1/4" adapter enabled me to use more devices natively. When photographing kitchens and interior spaces, property owners often request putting rubber bumpers or felt under anything that sits on the counter. With the non-slip pad, short of being totally knocked over, the camera won't budge at all.
Gear I Added to Improve My Platypod System and Workflow
- Security Cable - I almost went with a vinyl coated bike lock but a 10mm thick cable seemed like overkill and the options from Impact are hard to beat on price, required strength, and portability.
- Nite Ize #3 S Biner Clips - I routed two of Nite Ize #3 S Biner Clips through the camera’s triangular D clips and connected to the security cable. Rated at 25 lbs each, I had to find a balance between weight rating/strength should the camera go kinetic, and what will fit through the D clips. I’d love to hear how other photographers attach a security cable to their camera when the threaded socket is used with a tripod plate.
- Ikea Förfina Accessory Bag - With the accessories I added to the kit for both the Ultra and Pro, the included drawstring pouch quickly ran out of space. A cinematographer friend of mine at Deep Focus Pictures hooked me up with a few Förfina bags from Ikea that he uses for audio cables and organizing his gear. One Förfina holds all of the accessories I have set aside for my Platypod system.
- Cam/Ratchet Strap - I love the cinch straps that the Accessory Kit and Ultra both include, again the length needed is situational. I kept the cam strap I've been using with the Max but prefer to use the Platypod versions. They're really strong, easy to use, and won't mark up any surfaces.
What I Liked
- The Ultra is ridiculously portable. For small devices, it's perfect. If it were any more compact it would fit in a wallet. Anyone on the go in an urban environment can easily toss it into a messenger bag or pocket, and hikers will be happy with the ultra light weight it provides, potentially replacing a camera.
- The Accessory Kit rocks. Everything about the accessory kit is super useful, lightweight, well made, and portable. No Platypod system should be without these add ons, and it opens up doors to put a camera, flash, GoPro, even a strobe in new locations with ease.
- Everything made by Platypod is of the highest quality. The accessories are useful, well thought out, and swap across platforms seamlessly.
- The applications extend beyond photography and cinematography, as well. Spotting scopes for wildlife and sporting activities can also benefit from the use of a Platypod system.
What Could Be Improved
- A longer cinch strap would be the most helpful improvement to be made. We talked about this in testing but it's entirely situational, a trade off in length vs. compact portability.
- Include a security cable in the kit. This again opens the door to what length(s) would be best but it's an easy add on.
- The drawstring pouch is a nice inclusion and will be great for minimalists but I needed a larger storage for all of the accessories I use for the Max and Ultra.
- A D800 and 24-70 is probably past the limit of what the Ultra can handle without additional support. The Platypod Max is still my favorite plate for my cameras. Each plate offers great solutions for specific situations.
Platypod just launched a Kickstarter project with a multitude of reward options and has already cleared their $20,000 goal in a matter of days. The Platypod Max is available as a stand alone item from B&H Photo.