By Shiv Verma
Just recently, I had the opportunity to test drive a new ball head, the Platyball. Not available for direct sale until later in the year, it was a preproduction version designed and manufactured by the makers of the popular Platypod Max and Ultra.
The Platyball will come in two models, the Elite and the Ergo. Both units have identical mechanical features. However, the Elite has an incredibly accurate LED-based leveling device that makes it stand out from all the other ball heads on the market.
I loved working with this ball head. The Platyball not only has a unique design, it is visually striking. Its sleek ergonomic design reminds me of a Ferrari. Even the rich color and finish look terrific. And the design itself makes it an upside-down marvel.
The Platyball is the very best ball head I’ve ever used. You can understand why when you read the specs:
- Forged aluminum chassis with a beautiful metallic finish, built to last.
- The ball, 35 mm in diameter, is rated to hold 22lb. (10 kg.) off-axis load.
- The system is completely knob-less.
- The head is positioned using progressive variable tension locking and unlocking buttons.
- The built-in panning system is comprised of a panning turntable and locking wheel with etched 360° markings and indicator arrows.
- The quick-release clamp is Arca-Swiss compatible and has a twist-locking collar and safety button for added security.
- The tripod socket is a standard 3/8” socket – stainless steel reinforced and adaptable to 1/4” with included reducer bushing.
- The base is triangular shaped, rounded, and slotted for transport on a carabiner or strap (not included).
- The Elite includes a calibration disk with a bubble level, and a 1/4” stud that can be used to mount small cameras and smartphone mounts.
- The Elite weighs 1 lb 6 oz, and the Ergo is 1 oz lighter.
- A protective jacket is included, making it even easier to pack and transport.
- The Elite is equipped with a bidirectional electronic level. A master power switch turns on the power. Two buttons on the face, one to activate the leveling system and the other is multifunctional for brightness, calibration and factory reset. A single A23 Alkaline battery powers the module.
What I look for in a ball head is reliability, functionality, and ease of use. I hate fiddly ball heads. The Platyball Elite and Ergo meet and exceed these requirements in every category.
When you hold this ball head, you immediately realize it means business. It’s solid, yet sleek and you sense the precision.
Attaching the Platyball to a tripod is a breeze. Since the base has three fins, it provides a grip that is easy to hold and tighten.
Next, it’s all about mounting the camera. Simply rotate the clamp’s elliptical collar twist collar to open the jaws, insert the plate and turn the collar to get a solid grip. I tested it further by twisting the plate that was attached to a lens foot; there was virtually no give at all. Best of all, there are no levers or knobs that can be accidentally released or twisted off.
The contours of the Platyball fit comfortably in your hand. The two tension and release buttons align perfectly with your fingers. Applying a light tension keeps the camera and lens in place while allowing for smooth positioning. Once you have the desired framing, you can increase the locking tension with a few pushes on the top button.
Reframing is equally quick. A few pushes on the lower release button releases the tension on the ball, allowing for smooth repositioning. The head is so well designed that for cameras with a short zoom or smaller lens, you can adjust the position with just one hand.
For panoramas, typical ball heads need to be leveled either by adjusting the tripod legs or by mounting a leveling system. Since the Platyball is an inverted system, all you need to do is to level the head, and the panning table will remain perfectly level. The table is etched with major graduations every 5 degrees and minor ones for each degree. A locking wheel releases the panning table for smooth 360-degree single row pans.
Platypod has always designed and produced unique products, creating a history of solutions and expanded creativity for photographers. Platyball extends that same reputation for reliability and meeting expectations. They’ve succeeded in producing an easy-to-use, solidly performing, no compromise ball-head all photographers will appreciate.
I am hooked!