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My new constant companion… Mr Joby Gorilla Pod SLR-Zoom

Nikon D90 + Gorilla Pod SLR ZoomTwo weeks ago I was asked if I wanted to review one of the Gorilla Pods… and I jumped at the chance.   I remember seeing these a few years back long before I  got my Nikon D90 and at the time thought I need one of those….  now I have had a play for a few weeks… I can look back on those initial thoughts and still say yes. (but like with all reviews there are a few caveats)…

The Joby Gorillapod SLR-Zoom is what I got to play with.  This is the bigger of the Pods and is the 2nd to largest of the grips holding up to 3kg.  In all my playing around I used the heaviest stuff I had.. my Nikon D90, plus Sigma 18-200mm (total weight 1.2kg).  And I would say if you have an SLR of any sort and are thinking about one these tripods…  just forget the SLR version…  holding only 800g the price difference is so  insignificant you will have buyers regret before you have even left the store.
Nikon D90 + Gorilla Pod SLR Zoom

Gorillapod SLR SLR-Zoom
Designed for Prosumer cameras
Lightweight SLRs
Heavy SLRs
Professional tripod heads
Holds up to 800g 3kg
Size 25 x 5 x 5cm 25 x 6 x 6cm
Weight 165g 241g

Nikon D90 + Gorilla Pod SLR ZoomBut when my package (The Gorillapod being in a recycled cardboard no plastic bag which was very nice) arrived it had a little bonus as well… the Ballhead (still in the older style glossy cardboard).  This little optional accessory is one of those things that really should come with the SLR Zoom by default…  and is the extra thing that makes the item really useful but costs more.  If you like Dutch Angles.. then by all means get the SLR-Zoom without the Ballhead… otherwise just add it to the price at purchase time and get straight photos.

But what about the Gorilla Pod itself.  My fears and trepidations about it were…  will it hold the weight, will it grip on the angle I want and will it remain in the same place.

Nikon D90 + Gorilla Pod SLR ZoomFirstly I set up the D90 on the Pod sitting at a slightly skewed angle and left it for 24 hours.  Not one little bit of discernible movement could be found. Sure I was only loading it to 50% of the weight it said it could take.. but I was still impressed that it sat there for over a day and didn’t budge.  But real world use is a different matter.  Yes it will grip to just about anything and I have already tried mounting it to anything that doesn’t move just to see it if would.  But it takes practice and a lot of it to get it just in the sweet spot.

On a couple of occasions on a round bar the camera really wants to just go for a swing and the same with putting it on the ground as a tripod.  I am getting more comfortable with it however and this is not happening as much… but you will want to exercise some caution when playing with it in the beginning or else your very expensive bit of glass at the front the camera could take the fall.

The same goes with the Ballhead.  Sometimes it seems locked on but then just slowly starts turning.  So you have to watch out for this.   But the having the ballhead means that you can secure the gorillapod on the angle that you want.. and use the ballhead with its full 360° panning, and 90° tilt to straighten the camera, this is a much safer proposition as well. The Ballhead comes with a quick release system (which works a treat) featuring a very nice little spirit level built into it.  Now when I switch to my old big tripod I miss the spirit level of my Gorillapod as I use it for nearly every shot, even hand held shots.  If the quick release for the ballhead came with a pass through bolt for normal tripods I would be a lot happier.  The larger flat screw design is tricky to get tight without a tool and even harder to undo if you want to swap.

The Joby also comes with a 3/8″ adapter screw as well on the 1/4″ standard tripod mount…. guess what… I know I put it somewhere safe!

This tripod with a bend halfway down also fits in my camera bag (Lowepro Nova 180 AW) as well taking up one lens spot but the trade off means that I always have a tripod on me… one that I can use anywhere and nearly anyhow.

If you don’t have one get yourself one of these…  they can also help you break that eye level tripod shot that screams I was taken on a tripod.  You get can get low or high and have the angles covered.  And if you are going travelling stick one in your bag… you will use it… I know I do.  You can even using it as a straight tripod if you can find something taller to mount it on. It might also help to get you passed pesky security guards that don’t like tripods, to get some slightly longer exposures.

Oh and the extra bonus… once you have opened your Gorrillapod and used it a few times… give it to someone with OCD… they will spend hours trying to get it straight again.

Nikon D90 + Gorilla Pod SLR Zoom

and check out this review on the Joby Gorillapod SLR