Gadling Gear Review: Joby Gorillapod SLR-Zoom

The Gorillapod SLR-Zoom tripodThe advent of inexpensive point-and-shoot and SLR cameras had turned us all into travel photographers and has made documenting our journeys easier than ever. Capturing just the right shot still takes plenty of practice and skill, however, and occasionally it is nice to have a tripod in our packs to assist in that area. Unfortunately, traditional tripods can be heavy, bulky and inflexible, which doesn’t always make them the best travel companions. But the Gorillapod SLR-Zoom from Joby isn’t a traditional tripod and it eliminates those issues through its ingenious design.

Looking a bit like something out of a science fiction movie, the Gorillapod line of tripods uses a series of articulated legs that are unique in design. The individual segments on each leg can all be bent, twisted and reshaped as needed allowing a photographer to adjust them to stand securely on nearly any surface. Gorillapods can even be wrapped around objects, such as tree branches or rock ledges, to capture shots from vantage points that aren’t possible with other kinds of tripods. This level of versatility opens up a new host of options for photographers on the go.

Lightweight and yet rugged, the SLR-Zoom version of the Gorillapod is designed to hold a camera and lens weighing up to 6.6 pounds. Most consumer level cameras don’t weigh anywhere near that, even while outfitted with a large zoom lens. For example, my Nikon D90 weighs in at 1.5 pounds and adding a 70-300mm lens doubles that to about 3 pounds. Professional photographers will want to upgrade to the Gorillapod Focus, which is a bit larger but can support weights up to 11 pounds.

The SLR-Zoom features a universal 1/4″ screw as well as a 3/8″ adapter, which makes this tripod compatible with virtually any camera on the market. An included removable ball head adds the ability to tilt and hold the camera at just the right angle to catch the perfect shot, while a built-in level helps to ensure that your photos don’t come out completely cockeyed. That same level will be your best friend while first learning how to incorporate the Gorillapod into your photographic arsenal as it proves very useful when setting up shots.While this tripod is a great piece of equipment to have in your photography bag, it definitely does take some time to get use to. Adjusting the legs is a simple affair but getting them set just right takes practice. You’ll definitely want to play with the Gorillapod before you take it on a trip or out into the field, otherwise you run the risk of spending more time fidgeting with the tripod than actually taking photos. Using the SLR-Zoom isn’t rocket science by any means but gaining some experience prior to traveling will serve you well, particularly when setting up timed self-shots in unique locations.

Overall, the Gorillapod SLR-Zoom is a very high quality product that any photographer will love. It is sturdy, compact, durable and breaks down to a reasonable size for inclusion in our packs. It also comes with an affordable price tag of just $49.95.

Joby has a full line of Gorillapods available at a variety of prices and sizes. The SLR-Zoom may be overkill for many travelers, but one of the other options may better fit your needs. If you’re in the market for a versatile, high quality tripod to carry on your travels, the Gorillapod may be the perfect solution.