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 digital camera motion or how nicely they’re constructed. The Platypod Platyball, then again, is an odd duck. It fairly actually turns the standard 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 digital camera to pan horizontally. On prime of that may be a ball joint that may be tilted in any course, usually 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 instrument is totally different. For instance, the ball joint is on the backside, whereas the rotating base plate is on prime. This is one in every of its intuitive modifications. Since the rotating plate is on prime, the ball head permits for easy motion in any course, however as soon as the ball joint is locked off, the digital camera can nonetheless pan alongside a single axis simply. It simply is sensible. 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 utterly loosen or tighten the joint, you need 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 technique to deal with tightening a joint. However, this strategy enables you to fine-tune precisely how a lot leeway the ball joint offers. Say, for instance, you wished to get a whip pan shot, the place the digital camera quickly pans and instantly stops on the topic. A typical ball head mount can do that, however it requires some ability to keep away from shaking the digital camera when it lands or overshooting your topic.

I’ve acquired considerably shaky fingers, and I’ve by no means managed to drag off these sorts of fancy digital camera strikes persistently. It’s not unattainable, 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 digital camera actions.

The trigger-style buttons additionally really feel much more intuitive when you get used to having one hand on the digital camera and one on the Platyball always. This structure enables you to regulate the ball joint with out ever taking your hand off the digital camera. In truth, in case you take a while to get used to the way it works, a gifted digital camera operator might pull off some actually cool photographs.

The Platyball is designed to be held in your left hand, and the dial to manage the rotating prime plate additionally sits proper subsequent to the left thumb. This means it is doable to get a whip shot that lands on a topic, tighten the ball joint so the angle stays regular, then loosen the rotating prime plate and transition right into a easy panning shot, all with out ever taking your fingers off the digital camera. 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 recognize a number of the intelligent modifications the Platyball makes, there are virtually an equal variety of choices that baffle me. At the highest of the pinnacle is an Arca-Swiss quick-release plate, however because the Platyball is not a fan of knobs, it would not have the standard launch mechanism. Instead, there is a ridged button that, when pressed, will permit 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 all the prime plate—and it isn’t instantly apparent that that is how the machine 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 would possibly management the quick-release plate, however as a substitute it controls how tight the panning ingredient 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 fallacious, however after some irritating fiddling, I noticed that I used to be utilizing it as supposed; it simply wasn’t working appropriately. 

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