dante stella stories photographs technical guestbook

Squishy, different, Canadian and better
Attack of the Red Pods

I am writing this a very short distance from Canada.  But I can say that every time I am there, I notice something different and unusual.  Like the Pods (www.thepod.ca), which are three beanbag-style camera supports.  The first thing I thought was, "wow, these are cool."  The next thought was, "wow, they are really expensive."  The last was, "what the hell, I am already buying a ton of photo supplies."  This whole thought process took about 5 seconds and I bought a Red Pod and brought it back to my laboratory for analysis.  Ok, so it's not really a lab.  And ok, it's not really that technical an analysis.

Construction.  Basically, each of these is a vinyl and nylon beanbag filled with rice-shaped plastic pellets.  The underside is fastened with Velcro, and you could empty out the contents and conceivably fill it with any granular object you could want.  The plastic pellets are fairly light and fairly solid when compressed, but I imagine you could also fill the beanbag with lead shot, BBs, or gravel that you collect on the way.  My personal vote would be to fill it with Double Bubble gum (before it is chewed). 

Each Pod has a 1/4" tripod screw on the top.  The Red Pod is a large model with tripod screw centered. The Yellow pod is for small cameras with centered sockets.  The Blue pod is a small one with an off-center screw (for cameras with the tripod socket all the way off to one side.   The Blue pod has a velcro spot on the side opposite the tripod screw.  This allows you to velcro the other end of your camera to the Blue Pod.

Operation. People have used beanbags for a long time to stead cameras, but the genius lies in putting a tripod screw into the bag so that it never slips out from under the camera.  The idea is simple: you spin this onto your camera tripod socket, and when you need extra support, you mash the Pod and camera down on some hard object.  The beauty is that the object need not be flat and need not bear any relationship to the shape of your camera.  So park bench, support column, whatever.  I figured out that if you keep the camera and pod firmly braced, you can easily get sharp pictures at 1 second exposure with a 180mm and a D2x.  Not too shabby.

Could it be more decadent?  In a word, yes.  As I was leaving the store, I spotted a Manfrotto 3299 quick release adapter (rectangular plate), 1/4" socket on the bottom (US$31 - yes, ridiculously expensive).  Guess where I installed this?  With this arrangement, you can get the bag on and off without screwing anything on.  The only catch is that you lose a little bit of the stabilization in the process - you need to make sure the camera is pressed down a little bit harder.

Bottom line.  Offbeat, well-made product.  I predict that in two months, we will start seeing knockoffs of it made in China.  And we will have more unemployed Canadians.