If you read our article on Alternatives to Tripods in the Wilds – then here’s a follow up review on the Joby Gorillapod SLR-Zoom for DSLR and video cameras that’s good for kit up to 3 kilos. For those of you who haven’t heard of the Gorillapod and probably been in a cave for the last few years, it’s basically a lightweight tripod-like camera support that not only acts as a simple tripod but can also be manipulated in order to clamp around any sturdy objects to hand. The world, as they say, is your tripod.
The Joby SLR-Zoom Gorillapod is available with or without a tripod ‘head’, and as we already have a number of these lying around Mud and Routes HQ, we didn’t plump for the optional Joby tripod ball head. That, as well as we’re cheapskates and all of the review budget’s gone on some new lenses.
You could also use it without a ball-head, especially if you’re going to use it to place your camera on branches, fence-posts, slow walking companions and the like. It also comes with a 3/8″ adapter nut to fit professional tripod heads which was a real bonus as all the tripod heads here are the larger fitting. While these nuts only cost a matter of pence, it’s a nice little detail that meant we were able to get out and use it immediately without first having to order an adapter nut on-line and wait for it to be delivered (there’s no such thing as a photography shop within an hour of here!).
Used as a simple tripod, it works fine. You can spread the legs out in order to increase stability, especially if you’ve got any sort of heavy lens on the camera. Of course, it does look like the Borrowers have taken the image, and you may well have blades of grass in the frame, but the camera is at least secure. This configuration is spot on for landscape shots when you want to get close to the foreground. If you wanted to use it from a higher angle, then you need to find some sort of alternative support. You can wedge the feet into the top of a stone wall if needed, though it’s more effective when wrapped claw-like around an object. Basically, your imagination is the limit. If it grips, you’re sorted. It weighs in at a paltry 190g and if you’re carrying a DSLR, then that’s practically negligible weight compared to the rest of the paraphernalia you tend to lug about. You’d be looking at well over a kilo for the lightest tripods, but does this cut it as anything more than a self-timer tripod?
The proof would be in the images taken, so we took it out into the wilds to take some long exposures. Well, ok, not particularly the wilds for this first shot as we are in Snowdonia, and this is late Autumn, early Winter so had to take advantage of the stars when they came out which just happened to be in Peterborough.
It clamped wonderfully onto some railings at a hotel I stayed at – and the resulting image taken with a Canon 600D and Tokina 11-16mm lens is shown below:
It was also tested in the wild on our Alternative Tripods for Night Photography article – really on the hill and in the wilds, and one of the resulting shots is below.
So providing you can get the Gorillapod firmly attached to something, and this is generally straightforward, the results are more than passable. If it’s good enough for some long exposures then it”ll also be more than good enough for those summit group shots with everyone in.
We reckon if you want more than a group selfie and you’re going to be going to the effort of lugging a full frame camera complete with lens(es) and filters into the wilds ten you’ll probably add a proper tripod to that list of kit. Perhaps on a longer trip, where weight is at a premium and you’re taking a camera with just the one lens, this might well be an acceptable compromise. It would be sufficient to stabilise a landscape shot and better than nothing to get an impromptu night shot or your tent at night.