Just like it’s bigger brothers, the Platypod Ultra confuses me in so many ways.
The Platypod Ultra is used by a number of photographers after getting its funding off of Kickstarter, but the truth is I purposely put off doing this review because I really wanted to understand what this product is and does. They constantly tout it as a replacement for a tripod and I think that, in most situations, that’s completely wrong. Instead, it’s more of a combination of a Gorillapod, a tabletop tripod, and a really giant camera plate of some sort. Photographers have used it to get recording done in a variety of places and, while I’ve heard of a number of other journalists using one, I’ve never actually seen them do it. Perhaps the absolute best use of a Platypod I’ve seen is from photographers who find a way to use it in a situation where tripods are illegal. The Platypod Ultra is touted to be their latest and best yet. And if you’re the type of person who likes carrying around zip ties, I think that it probably could be. But to be brutally honest, I can’t see it as a replacement for a tripod at all.
Pros and Cons
- Very well built
- These spike screws have the most rubberized feet I’ve seen.
- Small and very lightweight
- There are very situations where I think you’d need to use one over a dedicated tripod.
The Platypod Ultra was used with a variety of Canon, Fujifilm, and Sony cameras.
Tech specs for the Platypod Ultra are taken from the Kickstarter page
Included in the Multi-Accessory Kit:
• 3-inch long 3/8-1/4-inch female to female spigot adapter.
Rig up your flash or monolight on the Ultra using this adapter and you’ve got the most portable off-camera lighting tool in your pocket.
• 4 x 6-inch, 2mm-thick silicone pad.
Sports photographers told us they needed better grip on surfaces like basketball courts. Use this pad to prevent slipping or scratching on flat surfaces.
• 1.5″ anodized aluminum 0.5″ riser – 3/8″-1/4″ female socket-male bolt. For smaller tripod heads and other devices with knobs that hit the Platypod or to mount cameras directly to Platypods. For Ultra an Max, we removed the Pro’s 1/4-inch bolt that prevented portrait orientation and compatibility with some tripod ball heads. If your ball head has a 1/4″ socket, a wing knob or lever that isn’t compatible with the flat Platypod surface, this adapter is for you.
• 36-inch long, 1.5-inch wide tension strap.
If you have the right tools, Platypod can be secured to almost any freestanding object. Here’s a longer, more rugged strap to rise to the challenge. Tested to 100 pounds!
• 4.25 x 6.25-inch drawstring pouch.
Keep all your handy Platypod accessories right by your side.
This is literally everything that there is to the Platypod Ultra. There are a number of holes and such so that you can put screws in to stabilize the Platypod Ultra. Then there is a converter that converts the tripod socket from one to the other. Of course, this means it isn’t a self contained unit like many of the others.
The Platypod Ultra is built very solid. It feels nice in the hand, is small, and can be used with a wide variety of tripod heads. I used pistol grips and standard tripod heads too.
Ease of Use
During my months of testing the Platypod Ultra on and off, I found a few situations where I’d want to use one. One of these was when shooting really down low; but to be fair I could have done the same thing with a tabletop tripod. Another time involved using it for star trails, and throughout my use I couldn’t figure out why I would use this vs a standard tripod (which gives me a whole lot of versatility). So I went about experimenting even more and in every single situation, I couldn’t figure out a moment where I’d use the Platypod Ultra vs something like a tabletop tripod. In situations where full tripods are illegal, I’d personally have no issues with cameras or lenses that are image stabilized or finding some sort of hack to get the images I need.
Much of the marketing around the Platypod Ultra in my eyes doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. Every situation where it is potentially being used could be a situation where I could get the shot without it in some way or another.
I genuinely cannot understand the Platypod Ultra except for videographers. But even in many of those cases, I’d more likely use an actual, proper tripod.