A while back I had done a review of the exceptionally versatile and compact Platypod Pro® Deluxe Kit. Now the makers have introduced a follow-up to the Platypod Pro called the Max.
Much planning, engineering and fine machining go in to making the Platypod Pro® Max. The Max’s initial form is stamped out of a 5mm thick sheet of aircraft grade aluminum maintaining absolute flatness. Using Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), the plate is computer machine precision drilled for all holes and slots. Edges are round-routed and holes either threaded or chamfered to avoid any sharp edges. Key holes slots for attaching the spike screw box are drilled only partway through the plate with very low tolerances to allow easy but firm attachment. These last holes are invisible from underneath the plate.
I have been informed by the manufacturer that the machining quality and workmanship on the Max is so meticulous that despite computer aided manufacturing the factory can only produce 1500 every 25 days!
Like the original Platypod Pro the Platypod Pro Max is a sturdy flat mini tripod ideal for low-angle shots and situations where traditional tripods are cumbersome or impractical. It is however, significantly larger, has four spikes/reversible rubber feet rather than three, a belt loop, a single 3/8 inch 16 ball head mounting screw and a 1/4 inch 20 removable stud to mount accessories.
Here is an image captured with the Max set up on top of the stone wall at Tunnel View – Yosemite NP.
Unlike its smaller brother the Max supports ball heads of any size and is rated to support 300 pounds. A 3/8 inch 16 threaded screw hole allows you to mount the Max directly to your tripod as and when needed. Made of aircraft grade aluminum anodized black with beautiful self-explanatory laser etchings, the Max comes in a red microfiber drawstring pouch.
If you already own a Platypod Pro the Max does not replace it, rather it compliments it where situations demand a larger base or when you need to physically move your low lying camera rig across the sand or grass when photographing wildlife.
- Base – 6061 black anodized aircraft-grade aluminum. 5 mm thick. 5.25 x 7.75” (5-year warranty—Full replacement of parts for any defect in workmanship.)
- Fiberglass-reinforced nylon removable “bayonet style” storage box mounted onto plate to hold four 1/4-20 spikes, 2 inches long, with heavy-duty rubber feet and locking nuts. Small magnets keep spikes in place for storage.
- Five 1/4-20 threaded holes strategically placed to allow use of spike feet in configurations of one, two, three, or four at a time.
- Two 2-inch belt slots to secure to any cylindrical object or to tape onto floors for remote camera setups.
- 1/4-20 and 3/8-16 accessory threaded holes for attachment to tripods or quick-release devices under the unit.
- 3/8-16 TA2 titanium photographic bolt drilled and countersunk through the plate and welded in place for large tripod ball heads, such as the RRS-BH55, even with spike-feet in place.
- Two non-threaded holes for permanent or semi-permanent mounting to floors, walls, ceilings or panels.
- Weight: 13 ounces, including spikes and storage box.
At approximately 5 x 8 inches it is about the size of an iPad Mini and fits well in any camera case that has a slot or pouch designed to hold a laptop or an iPad. As an option you can use either slot or one of the non-threaded holes and a carabiner to hang the Max from your belt or a loop on your backpack.
As compared to the original Platypod Pro, Max’s larger footprint means more stability. Like the Pro, Max is made of aircraft-grade aluminum with an embedded 3/8-inch titanium bolt. However, it does come with a few features, including a pair of slots that can secure Max via a bungee cord, zip-ties or even your belt to freestanding objects and structures. In the center are 1/4- and 3/8-inch holes to attach Max to quick-release devices, such as the Peak Design Capture Clip, or directly onto a tripod center column. A very convenient 1/4 – 1/4-inch male cross-nut allows attachment of flexible arms, speed-lights and numerous accessories. Here I used a Novoflex Flex Arm and a Lume Cube LED to light the crystal. The camera is a Panasonic GH4 with a 30mm Lumix macro lens. A second 1/4 – 1/4 and a second Flex Arm would be ideal for cross lighting a macro subject.
The Max‘s larger base allows use of most any ball head. The RRS B55 is the largest ball head I own and I had no problem attaching it to the Max and all the knobs have adequate clearance. As I no longer use large DSLR’s all my tests were done with Sony and Panasonic mirrorless bodies. Using the Max with an A7RII and the 70 – 200 mm f/4.0 lens was a breeze. I also mounted a Panasonic GH4 with the new Leica 100-400 using a Wimberly SideKick for quick reaction time and maneuverability. When using the Sidekick it is imperative that you remove the holder for the spikes with a simple twist and place the cross-nut in one of the corner positions, out-of-the-way. This gives the sidekick the clearance for 360 degree rotation. The Max supported this rig very well.
With the Platypod Pro you had to be careful mounting heavier gear. It was best to ensure the center of gravity was as close to the center of the Platypod Pro mounted ball-head. With the Max, this is a less of an issue. With a medium or large ball head the Max will comfortably support most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras fitted with normal to long telephoto lenses. A super telephoto lens properly mounted on a good ball head works well too. Here as in the image below I tested it using the RRS BH55 and the Wimberley Sidekick with a Canon 500 mm f/4.0 lens attached to a Sony A7R II using a Metabones IV adaptor.
Similar to the Platypod the Max is ideal great for ground level photography and videography, a mount for action cameras and for creating panoramas. When creating panoramas use a pan/tilt ball head like the Unique as shown below or attach a leveling base (see following image) below the ball head as shown in an image above where the RSS BH55 is mounted on top of the Acratech 1170 leveling base. As the Max is made of a relatively thin aluminum plate it would be difficult to have a built-in level. A third-party bubble level can be adhered to the max or simply place on it to level the Max. When it is necessary to level the Max it is best to use three of the four spikes or rubber ends. Four legs are great for stability but not so for leveling. The Max is best used without spikes or feet when you want to have the flexibility of sliding it in any direction on flat surfaces, sand or grass. When friction is important then the spikes are the best option. In the reverse orientation the rubber caps not only provide friction preventing the base from sliding around but also prevent damage to furniture, painted surfaces, etc.
For surfaces like asphalt, rocks and brick the spikes are your best choice for stability. To attach the base plate to a fence post, rail or tree limb, a pair of bungee cords, straps or your belt work great. All you need is to secure the cord around your object and hook the ends into the slots or holes in the base plate. Belts and straps can be passed through the slots on each side of the Max to secure it to any post, tree trunk or similar object.
The Max with its little brother the Platypod Pro have a permanent home in my photography kit. I find I am using these support systems more than using my tripods.
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