Product Type: Joby tripods
Newest Review: ... The cut out allows you to see the colour of the product inside - the bulk of all Gorillapod's is black, however each section has a... more
Fetch Me My Gorillapod, And No Monkeying Around
Member Name: Nibelung
Date: 03/08/10, updated on 05/08/10 (33 review reads)
Advantages: Versatile and stable
Disadvantages: Only short legs
DAMNED BY STRONG PRAISE
If there's one thing less likely to make me buy a gadget, it's having it recommended by those tittering pin-heads on C5's Gadget Show. I've met the bald one and he's like that in the flesh too. Now then, Suzi............I could make an exception for.
They are only just one step behind, and it's a tiny step mind, in my hit list of "TV's Most Annoying Twats" headed by the Top Gear team.
However, in the case of the Joby Gorillapod, I'm willing to make an exception despite them liking it.
Why? It's not electronic for one thing, so obsolescence doesn't come into it, nor does it feature in any nonsensical play-offs against other comparable gismos (there aren't any) or get tested to destruction by having an RAF Tornado's afterburners pointed at it. (Don't try this at home, kiddies)
It's just a camera tripod, for crying out loud.
IS IT AN ALIEN? IS IT A SHIATSU MASSAGER? IS IT A JAKE-THE-PEG IMPERSONATOR NAKED? NO, IT'S A TRIPOD!
However, it's a tripod with a difference, which of course is why The Gadget Show presenters were so taken with it.
Appearance wise, it looks like a 1:72nd scale model of one of the Martian invaders in "War Of The Worlds" having knobbly legs like a utilitarian set of Poppets (isn't that what those beads that kids could make into necklaces were called?).
GETTING TO GRIPS WITH IT, AND VICE VERSA
The legs don't actually extend like some tripods, so forget about sitting your camera four feet off the ground with this one. That's not what it's for. As a tripod, this is strictly 'desktop' and could easily be used for 'macro work', say photographing a coin collection. However, where it does come into its own is in its ability to wrap itself around just about anything up to the thickness of one of my legs (OK not the thigh end!). This means that when out in the wild, you only have to find a suitable tree branch or road sign around which to entwine it, get the mounting platform level and use it to steady your camera.
The design depends entirely upon the stiffness of its leg joints, which seem an agreeable mixture of tightness and articulation, a bit like a poseable doll with arthritis. Each 'knee joint' is surrounded by a high-grip rubber ring, which increases your faith in its ability to hold several hundred pound's worth of digital SLR, without dumping it in the pool the second you run round the front to get in the picture!
There are many versions of the Gorillapod, some suited to small pocket cameras, some for camcorders etc, so it's important when choosing and comparing prices to get the right one for the job. I bought the version designated for digital SLRs, presumably 'cos they're bloody heavy by comparison. My version also has a locking ball-joint on top to make it easier to get the camera level - there's no point finding a really natty way of perching it just to have your horizons sloping off to the left! This alone adds about thirty-five quid to the price, since mine cost £55 from Amazon.
As a further aid to precise placement, the camera fixing plate, which comes away with just one click and a slide, contains a spirit level. Since this plate is very slim, you may as well leave it screwed to the base of the camera, which makes the whole job of set up so much quicker. After all, you never know when a spirit level could come in handy even away from the tripod especially since my Nikon SLR can be used to shoot movie by holding it at arm's length and viewing through the rear LCD screen.
It also means that the camera is the last thing to be put in place, that's after you've checked the legs for grip around that sleeping python or railway line. If I have just one tiny criticism of this approach, it's that the fixing plate, which has to be kept slim needs to be tightened up with a coin, there being no way a thumb wheel or wing nut would do the job and still allow it to be a 'slide-on' fit to the tripod.
A heavy-ish camera like mine also puts a fair amount of weight forwards in the form of its short zoom lens. Used as a normal tripod, it's probably best to get one of Gorillapod's legs thrusting forwards to balance the camera and lens against its unnatural centre of gravity. Anyone with a really 'long' lens will probably have a repeat of the tripod bush on the lens itself, making balance of a yet heavier combo less of a problem. Of course, wrapped around a parking meter, the clinginess of the rubber joints make such issues fade into insignificance, as you beat the warden over the head with your Nikon D90.
Quite apart from its usefulness, think of the fun you can have posing it. "You put your left leg in, your middle leg out, in out in out....." or "I'm Jake The Peg, diddle-iddle-iddle-um, with the extra leg, diddle-iddle-iddle-um..."
I greeted my wife at the door wearing it on my head like a rather thick 'Orgasmatron'. Remember them? I never did see how giving my head numerous small electric shocks was going to make me....well, was going to make me, full stop.
Weight-wise, it's not bad to carry around. Even with the ball-and-socket head fitted, mine tips the scale at 377 grams, or just over 1 pound in old 'money'.
All in all, one of the most useful accessories a photographer can carry, the placement of which is limited only by your own ingenuity and personal pain thresholds!
Summary: Poseable camera tripod
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