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|The Elemental Epod Diversity tripod sells for £150, which is an attractive price given the product's versatility and build quality.|
The boffins who sit in front of their computers in darkened rooms coming up with new ideas and products to help us enjoy our photography even more never cease to amaze me. Take tripod designers, for example. Photography is over 150 years old and three-legged supports have been around for even longer, yet the designers still manage to innovate on what is basically a very simple concept. Giottos have done it recently with their Vitruvian and now Elemental have followed suit with the Epod Diversity tripod and supporting system.
Elemental Epod Diversity tripod: Features
The Diversity tripod has three-legs (so nothing innovative here!) but the clever thing is that one of the leg simply unscrews thus giving a sturdy monopod. You will notice from the image above that the centre column has a ballhead at each end and the one at the base can be used on the monopod if you wish. The whole process of leg removal and putting on a new head doesn't not take long so having the monopod option is worthwhile and its working range of 54cm to 1.35m is enough for most people.
The three-section tripod itself is made from aluminium so it is no lightweight - the Epod with the supplied ballheads weight in at 2.8kg. With its supporitng accessories, the Diveristy is more of a studio tripod anyway so this is not a problem.
The main ballhead offers smooth, precise panning and there is an adjustable clutch control so you can control the amount of tension to suit how you prefer to work. There is a solid quick release plate which is Elemental's own design and does not confirm to the Arca Swiss standard - unfortunately. The supplied smaller ball head also has a quick release plate - this is obviously different from the main ballhead. The legs and head are said to keep a camera/lens combination weighing up to 8kg stable.
The Diversity has an adjustable centre column and it can be quickly adjusted to a horizontal position and the feet are rubber or spikes - the spikes are accessed by retracting the rubber feet.
Given that shooting in a studio tethered to a laptop is an accessible options nowadays, part of the Epod system is an optional beam and laptop platform, the pair costing a reasonable £50 - or £30 for each individually.
The beam replaces the ballhead and the ballhead and camera then occupies one of the four 3/8in screw fit mounting positions on the beam. One can be used to hold the laptop platform - this is the right size for something like a 13in Mac Pro. This does mean if you have a larger laptop it just rests on it rather than snugly fitting the platform. You obviously need to be careful that you do not knock off the larger laptop while you are shooting tethered.
Elemental Epod Diversity tripod: Handling
Everything works as well as it should and certainly no major issues surfaced. The small laptop platform concern has already been mentioned. I have a 13in Mac Pro so this system suits me perfectly but those photographers with larger laptops need to exercise some care not to catch it and send it crashing to the studio floor.
I rarely use a tripod in the studio but I can fit the laptop platform direct to the tripod without the beam if I want to. However, I tried the tripod with the beam and the ballhead in place - the ballhead is handy as somewhere to secure the camera while fiddling with the lights and taking meter readings. Or for speed I could just hang the camera by its strap on the beam.
It is worth pointing out that the beam and laptop platform can be used on any stand/tripod with a standard 3/8in screw fitting - this is a handy option, given that many photographers probably already own a tripod.
Key functions like leg locks worked fine and the legs stayed locked in position when I rested my full weight (a little under 13stone) on the camera platform. There is a quiet swish of brushed aluminium as the leg height is adjusted.
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|The main ball head is good quality and solid.||The second head is good for monopod use.||One the legs come off to give a monopod|
Elemental Epod Diversity tripod: Performance
The important thing is that the Diversity gives good support and it does when used properly. With the legs fully extended, I twisted the shoulder and I did think there was more flex that I would like to see in the leg joints. With the centre column fully up (which is not necessary unless you are significantly well over six foot tall) there is some flexibility there too. Despite these minor criticisms I thought the Divserity rated well in the stability stakes and in practice there is no reason why it would not hold a camera steady even for very long exposures, indoors or out.
It is worth saying that saying the second ballhead and its location at the bottom of the centre column is useful but I would not use it as such for photography - unless you are using fast shuitter speeds. The pinch release connection is secure enough to hold the ballhead in place but it is not good enough for long exposure work. If you have the need, just reverse the centre column so that the main ball head is hanging down - it only takes a few seconds to do this.
Another point about the small ballhead is that you have to take it off when realigning the centre column to shoot horizontally or at another angle.
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|A locking screw holds the 'monopod' leg in place.||The small ball head is handy on the monopod.||The rubber feet are useful on sensitive floors.|
Elemental Epod Diversity tripod: Verdict
It is not the lightest or the most stable tripod I have ever tried nor is its handling without flaws. But it sells for £150 and that includes two ballheads, a very usable monopod and a mechanism for quick realignment to shoot subjects at different angles, so it is sound value.
The beam and laptop platform give the Diversity an extra dimension and are worth a serious look if you shoot tethered in the studio. Of course, if you do shoot tethered and already own a tripod you can just buy the beam and platform for £50 (or £30 for each individually) and that would make perfect sense.
Elemental Epod Diversity tripod: Pros
Supporting accessories, the beam and laptop platform
Design - two heads as standard, and optional adjustable beam for a laptop
Elemental Epod Diversity tripod: Cons
Too heavy to lug around the town/landscape, so best in the studio
Some whip in the legs
Platform size - it will hold a bigger laptop, but take care
Elemental Epod Diversity tripod: Specification
|Price||£150 for Epod Diversity, £50 for beam and laptop platform|
|Minimum height (tripod)||Ground level - with lower ball head|
|Minimum folded length (tripod with ball head)||79cm|
|Maximum height (tripod)||1.63m (without ball head)|
|Minimum height (monopod)||55cm|
|Maximum height (monopod)||1.35m|
|Number of leg sections||3|
|Feet||Rubber or spiked|
|Weight (tripod with ball head)||2.79kg|
The Elemental Epod Diversity costs around £150 and is available from Elemental here.