Platypod Elite First Impressions

In Gear Review by Patrick

Disclosure: I have no affiliation with Platypod / Platyball and I am not being paid for this review. They have not told me what to say, and do not get to review this blog prior to posting. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.

Back in 2019 when this relatively new concept of the taking the traditional ball head and flipping it upside down seemed unique, I was intrigued by the idea. The prototyped seemed have some interesting applications and I did back this on Kickstarter when it first appeared.

Platyball Elite

Platypod arguably was the first innovator into the plate type mount category, and the main competition in that market segments was small tripods, like the bendable Joby styles and other that every company was making. Platyball undoubtedly knew that they were ntering a space that is highly competitive and very saturated. Currently there are more ball heads, in more price ranges, than I can keep up with. Still, I see the Platyball as having a ton of opportunity in front of it.

Every company touts their ball head as the best, in most cases they are more similar to each other than not. The base mounts on the tripod, and the ball has a post that sticks up. There are usually multiple knobs, for loosening and adjusting the camera angle, panning features etc., and they almost all require holding the camera with one hand while you control those knobs. Those that are more expensive often have bubble levels that allow you to level the base, the part that is screwed to the tripod.

Platyball Ergo and Elite

My review is of the Elite given that at the time I ordered, the Ergo was not available and the the wait time was quite lengthy with the promise dates being moved back time and time again. I opted for the Elite and while it cost more than the Ergo, the leveling function for landscapes and panos could prove to be useful. With Platyball, the ball is on the bottom, that is what attaches to the tripod. The main ‘head’ part is on top. This means that regardless of the levelness of the tripod itself, and the angle of the ball, the part of the Platyball your camera attaches to can be leveled independently. That means the panning feature is level independent of the mount.

Build Quality

The Platyball Elite has a high end feel to it. It is a bit heavy, but no heavier than my workhorse Really Right Stuff BH-55. The Platyball is made with a weather-sealed aluminum unibody, steel components and polymer brake pads; it supports payloads of up to 10kg (22lbs). Rather than featuring bubble indicators, the Platyball features a built-in leveling indicator offering an accuracy level of 0.5-degrees.

Ease of Use

The other unique thing about the Platyball is that it’s usable one-handed. You can hold the Platyball, press the tighten or loosen buttons, and adjust your camera easily. Plus, because the camera is mounted to the same part, not the ball below, it’s all one-handed. Other features include support for use in half a dozen directions, an adjustable brightness display for nighttime use, support for user calibration, an Arca-compatible twist collar, panning lock thumb wheel, two large buttons for locking and unlocking the device and support for standard A23 alkaline batteries. I have found this to be much quicker in making adjustments and leveling the camera that traditional ball heads with the knobs.

Photo courtesy of Platypod.com

Overall Impression

Thus far I have found that this ball head can support my Nikon Z9 and 500mm lens without any issues on the tripod. I was skeptical about the locking mechanism, but once engaged it is rock solid and I have not found any creep that you can sometimes get when trying to level the camera. The leveling is as advertised and accurate. Elements have not been an issues in rain or cold and the one handed operation is becoming second nature making for quick easy adjustments. The panning of the head is smooth as silk and makes for easy panoramas. To date, I am pleased with its performance and recommend this for beginners and pros alike.

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