It’s not often we buy more gear. The reason, it only makes your camera bag heavier. Especially as you get older and walking, up hills, weight becomes an important issue. At one time, a bit of kit would get in the bag, if we thought it would be useful. Now each bit of kit, new or old has to fight for its space. We have come across a new bit of gear that is going in the bag. Not least it’s very lightweight.
The Platypod Pro is an aluminium plate with a 3/8 and 1/4 inch bolts welded to it, small enough to fit in a pocket, or get lost, in a camera bag. The clever bit is when you attach a ball head to the Platypod you have a low-level camera support, stable enough to mount a large camera body and lens on. The Platypod plate is so small; you can get a lot closer to your subject.
The supplied three adjustable feet come into their own, on hard uneven surfaces. If you’re not worried about damaging the surface the pointed ends provide the best grip. If damage is an issue, flip the legs around and use the rubber feet to protect the surface. My only concern, is just how long these rubber feet will be with us, as they just push fit onto the bolts.
We found that the Pro version easily holds a 1D Canon with lens attached. It is great for taking macro close-ups, at or near ground level. The plate is quite stable with a large camera attached, but you wouldn’t want to walk away and leave it alone. It is stable just not totally stable, but for our purposes its works. If you want a bigger more stable platform check out the Platypod Pro Max a much larger plate for heavier rigs.
If you want to hold a flashgun steady close to the ground the Platypod Pro comes supplied with a spigot adapter. You can mount quite heavy flash heads directly on to the spigot, allowing you to get the head on the floor. Great for lighting studio backgrounds or for adding a rim light in a portrait setup. If you have the appropriate adapter, you can mount on camera flashes. We use a Lasolite adapter. This allows you to adjust the flash into any position. You can also use a cold flash shoe screwed directly on to the 1/4 inch bolt, giving you less adjustment but is a lot easier to carry.
Before the arrival of the Platypod getting cameras close to the ground meant using two beanbags. One on the ground and another on top of the camera for stability. It’s a great setup for macro. Although not the easiest to use, moving the camera to frame up the picture can be a bit of a challenge. Also carrying two very heavy beanbags, for hours on end, tends to be one of my least favourite ways of spending a day.
Second option, are tripods. Gitzo Systematic Tripods allow you to get a camera very near the ground, by splaying the legs. It can be a complete nightmare in confined spaces, trying not to destroy a vast area of vegetation, surrounding your subject. Gitzo Explorer Tripods work well. Hanging the camera upside down, avoids the splayed leg problems. It is however a steep learning curve working with a camera upside down.
To get hold of a Platypod Pro in the UK you need Dale Photographic . At the time of writing this blog it retails at £50. The Platypod Pro Max is also available from Dale Photographic for £100. To see more about the Platypod range you can visit their website.
The Platypod Pro is a great bit of kit. Small and light it gets cameras or lights at ground level very easily. It’s a great addition to the camera bag and is so easy to carry it will probably stay in there.