|The Platypod Extreme, with hinged legs gripping a log and a Platyball Ergo head (not included) attached on top.|
Platypod (noun)/ plæt̬.ɪ.pɑːd / A compact camera support system for heavy loads; useful when a tripod is too big or bulky. The name Platypod is derived from the Greek πλατυποδια (platy-podia),, meaning ‘flat feet’.
eXtreme (adjective) /ɪkˈstriːm/ Greater than the usual degree or amount. Capitalizing the ‘x’ indicates even more extremity.
Platypods are the brainchild of Larry Tiefenbrunn, a medical doctor and avid photographer who sought a lightweight, solid and convenient device to keep his heavy camera gear stable without taking up too much room in a bag. The idea of a simple metal plate with adjustable feet became the original PlatyPod Pro, which was followed a few years later by the Platypod Max for even larger gear and the Platypod Ultra for smaller spaces and cameras. Most recently, this family-run company has introduced the Platyball inverted ball head, with one model incorporating the world’s first electronic level in a mechanical ball head.
|The Extreme in the more traditional Platypod form, with leg spikes firmly screwed into three of the available holes to create a mini tripod. (Note that one leg is still stowed in reserve.)|
|MSRP||$149 – $119 (Kickstarter)|
|Overall width||130mm (5″)|
|Overall length||197mm (7.75″)|
|Overall thickness||14mm (0.55″)|
|Total weight||272g (9.6 oz)|
|Load limit of titanium bolt||90 kg (200 lbs)|
Simple and versatile design
The Platypod Extreme is essentially a 5mm thick, aircraft-grade aluminum plate, with a fused titanium 3/8″ bolt in the center to accept a tripod head and four, spring-loaded metal hinges for the multi-angle ‘legs’. As with all other Platypods, these legs are 57mm (2.25″) threaded stainless steel spikes with rubber feet on their opposite ends for use on a variety of surfaces. The hinges differentiate the Extreme from the similarly sized Platypod Max, allowing for very quick deployment of the legs at preset angles, along with easy packing of the whole assembly as a relatively flat package inside the included neoprene sleeve.
The aluminum plate has cut-outs to accept straps and carabiners, eight 1/4” threaded holes for common photo accessories (including the four 1/4” threaded spikes and the crossnut male-to-male adapter), as well as four countersunk, unthreaded holes for screwing the Platypod directly to an object. It also has a 3/8” threaded hole near the center to mount it directly to a tripod or video slider and helpful screen-printed graphics next to each cut-out or hole to indicate the intended use.
The robust 3/8″ threaded titanium bolt in the center accepts almost all tripod heads, from giant gimbals to simple posts. Included in the package is a dual-ended, male-to-male 1/4′” threaded cross-nut adapter, which can convert any of the 1/4″ threaded holes on the plate into a stud for mounting accessories or small attachments. In addition, Platypod Pro LLC offers risers for larger or wider heads, as well as light stand adapters, purpose-made straps, goosenecks and phone clamps.
|The pull-out hinges can position the legs perpendicular to the plate, or 30° forward or backward from the vertical, as well as nearly horizontal for stowage or to keep the bottom flat.|
Hinged legs with spiked feet
While the Platypod Extreme is quite stable on flat surfaces with the hinged legs in their horizontal, stowed position, it provides quick support for many other surfaces when the metal hinges are pulled out and repositioned with the legs below the plate. The preset angles allow the legs to make a stable trapezoid with the plate or match the angle of an incline. With each threaded steel leg able to be adjusted individually, the plate can be fine-tuned to be closer to level, even if the underlying surface is not. Adding a tripod head on top allows for even more control when leveling camera gear.
The four spiked feet have a permanent rubber pad on their opposite end for use on surfaces that can be scratched by the sharp end, as well as a knurled tightening nut to lock down the position of each foot in its threaded hole. These feet can remain threaded into the rotating leg hinges or removed and screwed into the threaded holes all over the plate (or any combination of the two).
The spring-loaded, pull-out hinges have preset angles that point each leg 30° forward or back from perpendicular, straight up and down, or almost horizontal for storage. There is a slight indent for the sharp end of the spike when in the stored position to keep it from grabbing on anything while not in use, and small rubber safety caps are included to prevent accidental damage from the spikes.
|The various threaded holes on the Platypod Extreme can accept its legs or any accessory that uses the 1/4″-20 standard threading.|
While the Platypod family of supports is unusual, their use is similar to any other mini tripod, except that Platypods can hold much heavier gear. The key difference with the Extreme is that setup and adjustment are much faster when used as more than just a flat plate with camera gear attached. The overall size and weight are similar to a small tablet computer (or phablet), and the included neoprene sleeve and carabiner make it easy to carry or stow in a bag.
As with any mini tripod, a Platypod comes into its own when used for low-angle shots and supporting gear in tight spaces, but the Extreme can be screwed into walls, strapped to poles or trees, and even set up on angled surfaces with the legs tilted to accommodate. The slim design and lightweight mean it can be kept in a travel or hiking bag without adding much bulk. Additionally, the Platypod Extreme skirts around any restrictions on traditional tripods in many public or private spaces, mainly because there is almost no way it can be called a “tripod” with four legs and a flat plate, and it is far less likely to impede others in the area.
A heavy camera and lens can be challenging to balance on some surfaces, but the Platypod Extreme plate never bends or flexes under reasonable loads. The scallops in the front and back put some of the surface area forward for support where a lens would be, but much longer lenses and complicated setups would require more balancing or counterweights added.
The only lingering question is how well the hinges will hold up through rough or continued use. Platypod Pro LLC states that the springs inside are stainless steel, so there is little chance for corrosion, but the nature of an adjustable moving part means there is some wiggle that cannot be tightened away until weight is put on the legs. Of course, the stainless steel legs can be screwed into any of the eight threaded holes on the plate and firmly tightened down with their lock nuts, similar to the previous Platypod models.
A history of successful crowdfunding
Due diligence is always recommended before backing any crowdfunding project, as results are not guaranteed. However, the Platypod Extreme is the fourth product from manufacturer Platypod Pro to be introduced through a Kickstarter campaign, following the introduction of the Max and Ultra Platypods in 2017, and the Platyball heads, announced in 2019. Previous campaigns have been successfully funded with most products delivered within the expected timelines. The Platyball head was delayed due to the worldwide pandemic shutdown but has also been successfully delivered to backers in an improved form and will be reviewed here in the near future.
The Platypod Extreme is offered to Kickstarter backers who pledge at least $119, with higher prices for earlier delivery and backerkit extras. The team estimates that shipping to early bird backers will start in May 2022 and that the eventual retail price will be $149. You can find out more by heading over to the Kickstarter campaign.
Disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project. DPReview does its best to share only the projects that look legitimate and come from reliable creators, but as with any crowdfunded campaign, there’s always the risk of the product or service never coming to fruition.