Platypod Platyball Elite Review: A Bold Tripod Head Experiment

Most tripod heads, be it ball heads or pan/tilt heads, are fairly related, with solely minor variations in how they management digicam motion or how nicely they’re constructed. The Platypod Platyball, however, is an odd duck. It fairly actually turns the everyday ball-mount design on its head and provides a bevy of intuitive options—at the price of a steep studying curve.

Traditional ball-head tripod mounts often have a flat, rotating base, permitting the digicam to pan horizontally. On high of that may be a ball joint that may be tilted in any course, sometimes with a knob to tighten the joint, locking it in place or adjusting how easily the joint strikes. 

On the Platyball, almost each side of this seemingly easy device is totally different. For instance, the ball joint is on the backside, whereas the rotating base plate is on high. This is certainly one of its intuitive modifications. Since the rotating plate is on high, the ball head permits for easy motion in any course, however as soon as the ball joint is locked off, the digicam can nonetheless pan alongside a single axis simply. It simply is smart. But not each change this tripod head brings is equally sensible—and a few are downright complicated. 

Relearning the Basics

Typical ball-mounts have knobs to tighten or loosen the joint, however the Platyball has two massive triggers on the entrance. One loosens the joint by a step, the opposite tightens it. To fully loosen or tighten the joint, it’s a must to repeatedly press the respective button. If you are tightening it, it will get bodily more durable to press the button the tighter it will get.

At first, this feels just like the least intuitive strategy to deal with tightening a joint. However, this method enables you to fine-tune precisely how a lot leeway the ball joint supplies. Say, for instance, you needed to get a whip pan shot, the place the digicam quickly pans and immediately stops on the topic. A typical ball head mount can do that, however it requires some ability to keep away from shaking the digicam when it lands or overshooting your topic.

I’ve acquired considerably shaky arms, and I’ve by no means managed to tug off these sorts of fancy digicam strikes constantly. It’s not not possible, however it’s soul-crushing when your topic nails their cue however the shot’s ruined as a result of your hand slipped on the finish. With the Platyball, it was a lot simpler to get easy but nonetheless freehand digicam actions.

The trigger-style buttons additionally really feel much more intuitive when you get used to having one hand on the digicam and one on the Platyball always. This format enables you to alter the ball joint with out ever taking your hand off the digicam. In truth, should you take a while to get used to the way it works, a proficient digicam operator might pull off some actually cool pictures.

The Platyball is designed to be held in your left hand, and the dial to manage the rotating high plate additionally sits proper subsequent to the left thumb. This means it is attainable to get a whip shot that lands on a topic, tighten the ball joint so the angle stays regular, then loosen the rotating high plate and transition right into a easy panning shot, all with out ever taking your arms off the digicam. It took a while, however as soon as I acquired used to it, the Platyball felt extra versatile than conventional ball mounts.

Confusing Choices

As a lot as I respect a few of the intelligent modifications the Platyball makes, there are nearly an equal variety of choices that baffle me. At the highest of the top is an Arca-Swiss quick-release plate, however for the reason that Platyball is not a fan of knobs, it does not have the everyday launch mechanism. Instead, there is a ridged button that, when pressed, will enable the underside half of the highest part of the Platyball to rotate, releasing the Arca-Swiss plate.

This is mildly complicated, because it means the half that rotates to open the quick-release plate is one half of the mechanism that rotates the whole high plate—and it isn’t instantly apparent that that is how the system works. A dial on the sting has a locked-padlock icon on one aspect and an unlocked-padlock icon on the opposite. You’d assume this may management the quick-release plate, however as a substitute it controls how tight the panning aspect is.

My confusion was made worse by the truth that, on a couple of event, the quick-release plate merely acquired caught. Initially, I assumed I used to be doing one thing flawed, however after some irritating fiddling, I spotted that I used to be utilizing it as meant; it simply wasn’t working appropriately. 

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