Let’s get a few things out of the way before I get to the review.
- I’ve bought five Platypod Pros and three Platypod Max units for myself in the past.
- I’ve stashed a Platypod in every camera bag and even my car’s glovebox.
- I’ve loved the original Platypod Pro (review) and the Platypod Max (review).
- I can call the inventor and offer feedback.
- I appear on the Kickstarter page and offer a testimonial because I believe in the products so much.
What is It?
The Platypod Ultra is a tripod alternative. It combines with virtually any ballhead and creates a stable shooting platform. It’s named after a platypus for its shape (which has a duckbill). It features a variety of ways to balance or mount the camera for different shooting styles. I like to use it for low angle shots or where tripods aren’t allowed (which seems to be a growing list).
This is the next generation of the original Platypod Pro. The Ultra is designed for mirrorless and compact bodies, but I find it works for any DSLR or Mirrorless camera. It incorporates several new features which I’ll describe below and picks up a lot of the improvements that were added to the Platypod Max (which is designed for heavier gear and longer lenses).
What Comes in the Box?
The Platypod Ultra Includes:
- The Platypod Ultra (3.46 inches wide x 5.08 inches long)
- 4 heavy-duty spike feet that also have rubber feet on opposite end
- A wallet pouch to hold spikes
- A 20-inch cinch strap to attach to small railings or poles
- A Carabiner to attach to a belt loop or bag
If you’re coming from an original Platypod Pro, a lot’s been improved based on photographer feedback and.good ol’ innovation.
- The unit is now .6mm thicker and 10% wider and longer which makes it event more stable
- There are now 2 more threaded holes (5 total) to use with the spiked feet. This means you can easily shoot with 3 or 4 feet depending upon preferred shooting style.
- A carabiner (and hole) for easier to transport
- Belt Slots which let you strap to trees/poles with a 20” Cinch Strap included
- Countersunk screw holes to permanently attach to walls.
- Removal of the ¼ inch bolt to make more ball heads fit (although you can add it back with the accessory kit).
- 1/4”-20 and 3/8”-16 holes to easily attach to Tripod/Monopod/quick release plates
How it Works
NOTE: I was invited to test both an initial prototype and a final version of the product. This is a pre-release model that exactly matches the specs of the ones being manufactured now as part of the Kickstarter campaign. What I tested matches what is being manufactured. Several members of the Photofocus team are also testing the unit and will share their views and uses in other articles.
I took the Platypod Ultra on the road for over a month. I shot with it under all sorts of conditions. I took it camping, to Disney World, on a car trip, and just around town. Like previous generations, it completely met my expectations. I found it rock solid and easy to shoot from.
The addition of the cinch strap is a welcome change that makes the unit incredibly flexible. Find a pole, bench, or railing and you’re in business. I also shot with longer lenses just fine, all the was needed was to point the bill forward so it’s under the long lens.
The optional accessory kit was a welcome addition too. These accessories work with both the Ultra and the Max.
- 3-inch long 3/8-1/4-inch female to female spigot adapter. This works very well to attach a flash or monolight.
- Anodized aluminum riser with a 1/4-20 male bolt. If you need to attach smaller devices (like a GoPro camera) or use smartphone tripods, this adapter works well. It can also be used to lift a ball head who’s lever is bumping into the plate.
- 4 x 6-inch, 2mm-thick silicone pad. This is great to avoid scratching any surfaces or for extra grip.
- A 36-inch long, 1.5-inch wide tension strap. This works great for larger poles like lampposts. Just slip it through the notches in the plate.
- A drawstring pouch. To keep all your Platypod accessories organized.
The Bottom Line
The Platypod Ultra is a must have accessory. We all know that a stable camera means sharper pictures. This useful tool is highly adaptable for many shooting styles and can also be used for lighting, time-lapse work, HDR, and more. If you want the benefits of a tripod, but none of the weight and bulk, don’t miss this great addition to your camera bag.
While I own two already, I’ve already ordered more from their Kickstarter page. The Platypod Ultra was invented by a photographer and is a small family-owned business. The inventor is passionate about his products and keeps making them better.
Get the unit first from Kickstarter and save. Accessory kits and Platypod Max also available at the same link.