The Platypod system is a solution to occasions in which carrying a tripod may be too awkward, restrictive, inconvenient, or simply not allowed. The Platypod creates a sturdy and stable platform for support that can be adjusted to fit a range of surfaces. Rather than a tripod alternative, it should be a standalone camera accessory to have with you in your camera bag.
Platypod has created an adjustable platform that tends to solve a lot of the issues I've encountered when carrying my camera, both outdoors and also in more conventional settings.
I picked up a Platypod Ultra for shooting with my Sony A6300 mirrorless camera and the larger Platypod Max for shooting with my Canon 6Dii full-frame camera. My specific interest was to reduce the weight I carry with me on hikes.
The solid aluminum Platypod body combined with the low center of gravity is capable of supporting plenty of weight. The two Platypod body sizes are meant for different camera bodies and users, with the smaller Ultra being a good fit for use with small- to medium-size body and lens combinations, such as mirrorless and point-and-shoot cameras. The larger Platypod Max is built to support larger DSLR and full-frame camera body and lens combinations, and it is stable and better adapts to uneven surfaces.
The Platypod Ultra comes with the Platypod, a 20-inch cinch strap, a pouch for carrying the locking screws, and a carabiner that all of these easily attach to. Its small size makes it incredibly easy to throw into a backpack or camera bag or simply clip onto a bag strap or even a belt loop.
The Platypod Max is larger, and it comes only with the locking screws, a small plastic box that clips securely to the Platypod for carrying them, and a small carrying bag.
Compared with previous models, these Platypods have evolved with more range of use. For instance, they accommodate cinch straps, which can attach to a vertical surface.
The Platypods use locking screws as legs, allowing for fine adjustments of each individual corner to best fit the surface. Screws can be put in either way, one side with soft plastic caps for flat surfaces that may be susceptible to scratching, and the other side with a sharp tip for more grip on an uneven surface. The screws come with locking nuts to secure them in place. Both models also come with ways to easily carry and store the screws.
An additional multi-accessory kit is available with adapters for speedlights and camera bodies with a smaller tripod hole, a silicone pad to prevent slipping or scratching, and a 36-inch cinch strap suitable for the Platypod Max. For my outdoor use, the cinch strap was the only accessory I used. More on that in a moment.
One important detail: Platypods do not come with a ballhead. This isn't a big deal, as I used one of my own ballheads, but the buyer should be aware that this is a necessity to get the full use of the Platypod and must be supplied separately.
My Platypods ended up making a very convenient accessory for walks and hikes where I wasn't planning to take a tripod. I could throw them into my camera bag, and the added weight was negligible. This is perfect for quick setup and adjustment of the camera angle for those moments when you want to take a picture of yourself and there's no one around to take the picture for you.
I also found my Platypods great for long exposures—trying to get that smooth look in the clouds or water. In the case of taking pictures of waterfalls or a stream, these have sometimes seemed even better than a tripod, which may be hard to adjust for low positions just above the surface of the water. Though I haven't tried yet, I imagine that the Platypods would work fine with the right camera settings and positioning to also capture time lapse images and Milky Way or star-trail images.
Platypods are limited to the height of whatever surface they are set on. In situations with smaller trees around, I used the cinch straps to hold the camera at a higher position. The cinch straps for both models feel supportive under the tension of the camera's weight, so I was never nervous about them breaking or slipping.
The main negatives: the tension knob on my ballhead hit the Platypod, preventing a full turn. Nevertheless, it still worked: its range of motion allowed it to be moved when in a looser position and held the camera firm when tightened. Also, the stitching on my cinch strap had a loose end that would easily get caught in the Velcro. This didn't affect its use, but I will have to restitch it at some point if it continues to loosen.
Overall, the Platypod is not a replacement for a traditional camera tripod. A tripod allows for a much larger range of positioning. As such, the Platypod should not be considered as an alternative to a tripod, but instead should be looked at as a standalone camera accessory that can be great to have with you in a camera bag.
For outings where I either don't want the weight of a tripod, or I am just not planning on using one, my Platypods may or may not be used. Still, they are valuable to have on me. I've found myself in situations where I captured a picture of my partner and I without trying to balance my camera on a log or the ground and shot a creek with a long exposure rather than simply handheld.
For convenience and photo quality, the Platypod has been a useful addition to my outdoor kit. Add to this places like museums, amusement parks, or other public areas that have rules against tripods, the Platypod proves an accessory I've been happy to add to my bag.