Provides: Flexible tripod for cameras up to 6.5 lbs.
Minimum Requirements: Digital camera/camcorder and/or tripod head
Price: $54.95 ($49.95 eco-packaged, $79.95 with Ballhead)
Joby’s Gorillapod tripods are all about convenience. They’re not going to replace your standard tripod, but they’re designed to be there when you need them. When testing the Gorillapod Zoom, I kept looking back at times when I wish would’ve had it…which is just about any vacation I ever took. When Walking Haunted London on my honeymoon, for example, I took my 18.5″ Slik tripod with me, and even that was more than I wanted to carry. Slipping the 10″ Gorillapod SLR-Zoom into my backpack for steady and timer shots would’ve made for more convenient ghost hunting…and pub crawling.
Hopefully you’re familiar the Joby “Gorilla” line by now. We’ve reviewed their Gorillapod Mobile and Gorillamobile for iPhone 3G/S, and found both to be quite outstanding. All of the tripods in the line are characterized by leg joints that snugly bend and rotate, allowing you to not only adjust height, but also wrap the legs around items such as tree limbs, fence posts, or whatever else they can grip.
Each joint has a ring of rubber to ensure a firm grip. The feet are also rubberized to prevent slipping. Only on very slick, angled surfaces did I have any problem, and even then it was corrected by just shifting the weight of the camera with the tripod legs. This is really an impressive system in a compact design that allows you to always keep it handy, and it’s this portability that I like about it most.
The Gorillapod Zoom-SLR sports a universal 1/4″ tripod screw, but also contains a 3/8″ adapter screw for mounting a professional tripod head (not included).
I tested the Gorillapod with a Nikon D40, and never had a problem with balance. Even when using it with my Canon GL2 camcorder (2.4 lbs.), I found the Gorillapod to be stable when the legs were split to a logical width or wrapped around an object.
Joby offers you the option to purchase the Gorillapod Zoom-SLR with the Ballhead accessory. This provides the added ability to tilt and pan your camera while the tripod is locked in place, and I highly recommend you go this route. The Gorillapod is versatile in its setup, but once you’ve got those legs wrapped around something, your camera is fixed. By adding the Ballhead, positioning and leveling (a level is built into the Ballhead unit) can be achieved after you’ve mounted the tripod, not before. You therefore get the freedom of altering your shot without have to adjust the tripod.
This is a good thing because the joints in the legs are quite stiff. That’s necessary for support and permanence, but it means getting them properly placed can be a bit tricky. The legs don’t always bend where you want them to, and straightening them out for normal tripod functionality is harder than it should be.
But those minor gripes don’t come close to offsetting the benefits of using the Gorillapod SLR-Zoom. You’re not going to use this when taking wedding photos or professional portraits. But for vacations, day trips, or even just a quick hike or normal use around the house, Joby has given you a portable, sturdy, exceptionally functional tripod that you’ll quickly learn to always have within reach of your camera.