Gadling Gear Review: Joby Gorillapod SLR-Zoom

The 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.

Travel photography: How to make a tripod that fits in your pocket

For those out there who don’t want to spend a lot of money on fancy equipment or hate lugging around a heavy tripod during your travels, there is a solution that costs less than $3 and fits right in your pocket. Travel blogger Alex from the Travel Noodle gives photographers instructions on how to create a string pod, which is essentially a tripod made of string.

The supplies you will need include:

  • A piece of string that is a little bit longer than your own height
  • a 1/4″ eye bolt (this will work for most cameras, although you may want to confirm the size of your camera’s tripod socket at the hardware store)
  • A large washer

You will begin by tying one end of the string to the eye bolt and the other end to the washer. Next, screw the eye bolt into the tripod socket of your camera. Then, with the string attached, drop the washer to the ground and stand on it. Now, with the string nice and taut you can begin taking excellent travel photos without having to worry about the dreaded camera shake.

Gadling gear review – Manfrotto Modo Pocket mini folding camera stand

In this Gadling gear review, I’ll introduce you to the Manfrotto Modo Pocket 797 mini camera stand. This 50 gram (about 1.7 ounces) folding stand screws to the tripod mount found on the bottom of most cameras. When folded, it is only about 6 millimeters thick. The Modo Pocket is a master of simplicity – it really only consists of three parts, two of which fold open to help angle your camera on a surface.

Once opened, a small cord prevents the 2 legs from folding open too far, and helps keep them angled. Sturdy rubber feet are injection molded to the legs, so there is no chance of them falling off.

An attached camera can be angled in a variety of ways – you can keep it straight, or angle it up/down about 45 degrees. This opens up a whole world of creative options, including shots from the ground up.
One clever addition is a threaded hole on the bottom of the Modo Pocket, which allows you to mount it, along with your camera on a second tripod, without having to remove it.

Despite its small size, I found that it had no problems whatsoever with heavier cameras like the Olympus Pen E-P1. Of course, it is very much in its element with a P&S camera. The manufacturer rated maximum camera weight is 500g/1lb.

There are other pocket camera stands/tripods on the market, but the Modo Pocket is the smallest you’ll find, plus its small size means it can stay attached to your camera at all times, ready for when you need it.

At $19.95 (MSRP) it is not a cheap little accessory, but Manfrotto are known in the camera world for their fantastic quality, and the Modo Pocket is no exception. This does not look or feel like some cheap little gizmo. The Modo Pocket is available from most camera equipment vendors.

I’ve quickly learned to love the quirky little Modo Pocket – it is great for timed family photos, or if you don’t want to put your camera down on a dirty muddy surface. It is ready for use in a matter of seconds whenever you need it.

PRO’S: Great quality, can stay on your camera, very lightweight and thin.
CON’S: Price feels a tad on the high side.

Product review – Joby Gorillapod Go-Go!

The Joby Gorillapod has long been a photographers favorite – the bendy tripod allows you to place your camera on a table or hang it from a tree.

The Gorillapod Go-Go! expands on that concept and offers a multifunctional Gorillapod with interchangeable base plates. The Go-Go! includes a conventional camera screw thread mount, a suction cup mount and 2 self adhesive mounts.

With these 3 different mounting options, the original Gorillapod suddenly becomes compatible with your iPod, PDA, smartphone, GPS or pretty much any other portable device you carry. As with the original Gorillapod, the Go-Go! has non-slip rubber feet, and each joint can be bent and rotated in any direction.

The mounting plates slide onto the Go-Go! and stay in place with a small locking ring . To release them, you simply unlock the ring and press the release button. When attached, the plate feels very sturdy with no wiggle room. The Go-Go! weighs just 1.6 ounces, so when you store it in your carryon bag, you won’t even notice it.

The maximum weight limit on each mounting plate is listed on the Gorillapod site (11.5 ounces on the screw mount, 10.6 ounces on the adhesive clip and 7.1 ounces with the suction cup). This should be more than sufficient for most gadgets out there. A large hard drive based MP3 player usually weighs about 5 ounces.

One minor issue I ran into is that the Gorillapod Go-Go! does not come with a carrying pouch. This may not be an issue with the original Gorillapod, but when you are carrying the Go-Go! with its multiple mounting options, it would have been nice to have a safe place to store them. Of course, a simple Ziploc bag resolves this.

The Gorillapod Go-Go! retails for $29.95, which includes free ground shipping. This is just $5 more than the original Gorillapod, which makes this new version a very good deal.

Daily deal – flexible mini camera tripod shipped for $7

Today’s daily deal is for a flexible mini tripod for your camera. These little tripods have become pretty popular, because of their flexibility (pardon the pun).

You can use them as a normal tripod and stand them on a table or other structure, or you can bend and wrap the feet around anything a tripod normally would not stick to (like a tree).

Combined with the self timer in your camera, little gadgets like this may help you make the next photo of the day here on Gadling!

These little tripods normally retail for about $20, but currently has one on sale for just $6.95, with free shipping.

I’m not too sure about the quality, but Meritline usually ships fairly decent products. Also, at $6.95, I’m not sure I’d trust it to hold a $1000 camera to a tree, so if you make your photos like a pro, invest a little more and get yourself a Gorillapod.

The deal can be found here, and the low price is valid until the 20th.