The (Black) Pod (camera beanbag)

Concept: 2 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: Just as useful as the yellow one - but for much bigger cameras.

The Long Version: Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy. When I write a review I can talk myself into something that might not otherwise occur to me. It happened with a flashlight, and it happened with the Yellow Pod. The Pod (dot ca) makes beanbag camera supports that are a little different from the usual lumpy bags, and after spending time with their smallest one under my little Hasselblad, I started to think about how useful their biggest one would be for my big Fuji. Five and a half months later I bought it.

The Black Pod is the largest model, and has a centred 1/4" camera mounting screw. (The Silver model is the same size, but with an off-centre mount, making it better for SLRs with long lenses.) It's about eight inches across and three inches high, and it weights better than two and a half pounds. It has velcro pads on the mounting surface, and includes little velcro 'buttons' to match, as well as four lash points. Those look a lot like shoelaces, but I'm sure they're much fancier than that.

I picked up the Black pod so that I can use impromptu support instead of carrying a massive tripod. When it won't fit inside my backpack it can be clipped to the outside via its lash points, and its squishiness makes it easy to fit inside my bike pannier. It's certainly not small, but any equipment that needs it will also be big enough to keep it in perspective.

My Black Pod's first outing was to the Leslie Street Spit, which is a combination nature reserve and construction landfill site. Naturally, I head to the side with the old power poles and rebar. I'm pleased to say that the day of perching on broken bricks and concrete slabs left its tough base dirty but undamaged. Shifting the camera into position with the black pod is easier than it is with the little yellow one, and while I occasionally missed having my tripods' ability to pick and choose my position, I wouldn't have wanted to carry one instead.

The proof of anything photographic is in the photos, and the Black pod is absolutely able to hold such a big camera. I can see crisp details in the scanned negatives that I never noticed when I was taking the photos. I did use good photographic hygiene – the day was bright enough that I kept the shutter speed at 1/125 or 1/250 (at f/22 or f/32) and used the mirror lock-up most of the time. Something as supportive as the Black Pod shouldn't have any problems with that, and now I'm looking forward to seeing just how far I can push it.

last updated 20 july 2011


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