Ever since I saw the first Gorillapod, I’ve been intrigued to see how well it performs. Then, when Joby introduced the Gorillapod SLR, I was especially interested to see if it could handle my Olympus E-500 digital SLR. The bulk of my photography (outside of camera review shots) is family and vacation shooting. I rarely use a tripod for these purposes, but the Gorillapod is small enough that it would be easy to keep with me.
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The first Gorillapod model was meant only for compact digital cameras weighing up to 9.1 ounces – not enough for some of the ultra-zoom cameras or digital SLRs. Then came the Gorillapod SLR, which can handle a camera up to 1.75 pounds. Finally, for those who have the really long glass – the Gorillapod SLR-Zoom can handle up to 6.6 pounds.
Design and Features
I picked up the Gorillapod SLR to review. It actually shares pretty much the same features as the smaller, lighter weight Gorillapod with everything just upsized a bit. With the legs straightened and folded together, the tripod has a height of just under 10 inches, making it very packable. In fact, if you don’t have room for a cylindrical shape just a couple inches in diameter, you could mold the Gorillapod to fit in whatever you have space left for. At only 5.8 ounces, it is also very lightweight.
The tripod is essentially made of a bunch of “ball and socket” joints so that the legs can be bent to whatever shape you need. The tips of the legs are almost entirely covered with rubber for grippiness. The rest of the ball joints have rings of rubber to grip whatever they’re wrapped around.
Moving up to the tripod head, a “slim-line attachment” slides out to allow easy attachment to your camera. Once the attachment is tightened into the tripod mount on you camera, you just slide it into the head until it clicks. A push-button release holds the attachment into place. For extra security, a rotating ring lock prevents the push button from being depressed and releasing the slim-line attachment. Both the Gorillapod and Gorillapod SLR have the same head. The Gorillapod SLR-Zoom has a screw mount that allows a 1/4” or 3/8” mount to whatever camera or tripod head that you prefer.
Slim-line attachment and lock ring (view large image)
The Gorillapod really does excel at what it’s meant for. There’s no doubt that it’s flexible enough to handle an infinite number of positions. The rubberized feet and joints are absolutely critical to getting the tripod to “stick” and they do a good job. The holding power of the tripod is also sufficient for my Olympus digital SLR. Not every position is as stable as you may prefer, but it just takes a little adjustment to get there.
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My only concern with the “holding” capability of the camera will probably only reveal itself with longer-term use. I have a feeling that the joints will become less stiff with age (how come it doesn’t that work that way for people?) and it will become more difficult to find a stable position. However, the Gorillapod is so reasonably priced that it’s easily replaced.
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As I played with it, I realized that half of the fun is just bending it to get the best platform to shoot from. It’s also just fun to play with even if you aren’t going to do any shooting. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks the same - you should see the Flickr Gorillapod Love pool: http://www.flickr.com/groups/gorillapod/pool/
The slim-line attachment and locking mechanism may seem like a little thing, but it provides a lot of value and ease of use. You can purchase an additional slim-line attachment clips so you can leave them on multiple cameras.
You can purchase directly from the Joby website, but they also have a list of places where you can purchase it. I also was impressed that you can get an “unpackaged”, environmentally-friendly version of the Gorillapod SLR that is $5 less than the blister-packed version. The Gorillapod SLR-Zoom only comes unpackaged and the standard Gorillapod comes in both versions with a $3 difference.
As I walked past Joby's booth at the PhotoPlus Expo a few weeks ago, I overheard someone say that they wouldn't trust it to hold their equipment On the other hand, I looked at the crowd of people at the booth and noticed how many people were actually purchasing the model that fit their needs. As with any product, it's not going to satisfy everyone, but it's an excellent product that performs very well for its price (and target audience). It also happens that it's darn cute.
The Gorillapod SLR (and the rest of its band) is a perfect miniature tripod solution for amateurs and enthusiasts who don’t need a more expensive tripod for everyday use. It’s also a good travel tripod for anyone who doesn’t want to/need to travel with a standard sized tripod.