The Joby Gorillapod SLR Zoom + Ballhead Tripod is a lot of fun and a versatile little tripod. Let me start by saying what it isn’t. This isn’t a tripod you want to use to do an interview, and it won’t replace your standard tripod. What it is, is an extremely useful, versatile, run and gun, adjustable, fun to use tripod for under $50.
The Gorillapod has bendable plastic legs that can be adjusted to fit into almost any location. The Gorillapod is perfect for uneven surfaces, nature settings, small areas where a standard tripod wont fit as well as countless others. The adjustable ballhead is complete with a bubble level so you can easily level your shots and it allows for 360 degree pans and + – 90 degree tilt, it also includes a quick release clip so you can quickly remove and replace your camera.
That’s enough on the basic features, what I like to talk about is my personal real world use and experiences with products. I have used the Gorillapod on multiple shoots and various locations all over the world, it’s in my bag on almost every shoot I do. I’m going to highlight a few shoots and explain how and why I used the Gorillapods and it’s benefits and downfalls.
The first example was shooting waterfalls at Hanging Rock State Park in North Carolina.
To get to the waterfalls you need to hike up a mountain, something I did not want to do with my large heavy tripod, I did that on an earlier shoot at Hanging Rock and about had a heart attack.
Lets face it, I’m not exactly in the best shape I could be and I’d much rather eat a donut than hike up a mountain carrying heavy, awkward equipment . One of the benefits of the Gorillapod is that it is very small and light weight which made it perfect for this shoot. Another good thing was that I was shooting some of my shots with the GoPro Hero2 camera (a very small waterproof camera).
The Gorillapod is a perfect match for the GoPro, it’s great with small light cameras. The Gorillapod struggles with larger heavier cameras or DSLR’s with larger lenses (it’s not designed for heavier cameras).
Besides being light and portable the Gorillapod is great for uneven surfaces or terrain.
I used it on rocks, trees and uneven ground. The adjustable legs make it easy to mold around various surfaces or even wrap around trees.
It’s also made of plastic so it can be placed in water and you don’t have to worry about it being damaged (an important feature while I was shooting the waterfalls).
Another cool thing is the low angles, the Gorillapod is small and very close to the ground, this gives you some pretty cool angles you can’t get with a regular tripod. Having options while you shoot is always a good thing. I also found that I could place the Gorillapod in places that I’d never be able to put a regular tripod, like a small mossy wet ridge.
This enabled me to get steady shots I wouldn’t have gotten without it. The ballhead also makes it very easy to level the camera. The Gorillapod worked awesome on this shoot.
Another example of it’s versatility is the ability to wrap itself around objects. I’ve used it on railings, fences, trees, poles etc……. The ability to wrap around things is great when a standard tripod is either not allowed or unable to fit in a location.
I had to shoot a high angle timelapse of a warehouse, to get the shot I climbed a ladder but the steps were way to small to try and balance a tripood on, so I wrapped the Gorillapod around the railing of the ladder and it worked great.
I’ve also shot timelapses of baseball games (or should I say my son has) by wrapping it around the railing.
I’ve used it to shoot at sporting events and arenas.
It’s small size and portability make it much easier to accomplish these shots in public places, you also don’t have to worry about people running into the legs of your tripod, or taking up space in the aisle, something the ushers appreciate.
Which brings me to the last example which is portability and discreetness. I was in Mexico City and I had an extremely tight schedule to get b-roll of the city.
I loved Mexico City, the culture and the food were amazing, but lets just say it’s not a city that you want to walk around with expensive equipment and bring attention to yourself. The Gorillapod was the perfect choice. I was able to mold it around various objects to get locked down shots discreetly without being noticed.
The size and portability made it very easy to set it down and get cool low angle shots from various locations.
I molded it around the car door as we drove through the city for a few interesting shots. I was also able to use it when I went to the look out deck of Latin American Tower, the tallest building in Mexico (prior to 1984).
They don’t allow tripods or large camera equipment there. I was able to wrap the Gorillapod around the fence so I could get some great steady shots of the city and a nice timelapse. I was also able to squeeze it in between the fence, something I wouldn’t have been able to do with a standard tripod.
There’s one more trick that I’d like to add that I use the Gorillapod for and that is as a stabilizer. I’ve used the Gorillapod on many handheld shoots to help stabilize my shots. This can be done in a variety of ways. I balance two of the legs on my chest while holding the third leg, this greatly improves stability, especially when doing rack focus shots. I’ve also used the Gorillapod as a monopod, by pushing the three legs together as one and holding them, this works great with the GoPro. Lastly you can wrap a leg around your wrist to help stabilize.
I really have no major complaints about this product. One thing that gets annoying is trying to get it perfectly straight when you are done, it’s hard to get the legs lined up perfectly, I’m kind of anal about that and I haven’t been able to get it perfect….yet. I also wish they would make a longer one, but I think stability might be the reason they don’t. At times it can take a few minutes to get it adjusted exactly how you want it, and many times you get one leg set and another leg moves, or while adjusting the ballhead the legs move, but it is easy to readjust.
Overall the Joby Gorillapod is a great product that I use all the time. For $50 I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t have one. If that’s too much money, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch for a week instead of eating out and pick yourself up one. Don’t skimp, make sure you get the one with the ballhead. If you do decide to get one, please think about ordering it from my store page. That will help me continue to keep this site running and do more reviews. Thanks, I hope this was helpful.
The street vendor food in Mexico City is delicious even though I have no idea what it was.
And the hot sausage sandwiches at the Minor League Greensboro Grasshoppers games are pretty dang tasty as well.