Each month Wildfoot Travel’s Dave Cheetham reviews a piece of wildlife travel or photography gear. From clothing to books and cameras to accessories, the product-in-focus may vary, but the honest and thorough scrutiny remains constant. Here Dave reviews a recent purchase, Joby’s flexible DSLR tripod.
I have to admit, when I am out shooting photos or video, I lack the patience of a great landscape photographer. Instead of taking my time to ensure a precise set-up and wait for the perfect moment, I have one eye on the next move, always keen to capture the bits that I am missing and snap the amazing things that are going on around me. That irrepressible, fast moving, reactive urge lead me to invest in the Joby Gorillapod 5K, sold together with ball-head as a kit at around £130.
Now let’s get one thing straight. I also have a decent tripod, so I wasn’t looking for an alternative. Just a more flexible tool to use under the right circumstances.
My Canon 5D MkIII is a heavy piece of kit and with a heavy zoom lens attached. I have to admit, I was expecting disappointment. But the reality was quite the opposite. The Gorillapod dealt with the heavy lump without a single problem.
Standing at about 15 inches high, Joby’s quirky camera stand is remarkably stable under load and offers all the benefits I was hoping for and more.
Shooting wildlife, it is ideally flexible. Its bumpy, bendable legs make it quick and easy to get the camera set at a really low viewpoint. So you can be eye to eye with your subject in a flash. Something traditional tripods can make impossible or, at best, difficult.
You could get away without the ball-head (saving about £60), simply relying on the in-built bendability of the legs which give remarkable and almost-instant adjustability but for me the added ‘wigglability’ is worth the cash.The legs bend and grip so much better than I expected, allowing you to use rocks, railings, branches and bars to stabilize body and lens. This can lead to great shots, often with a slightly different perspective as intriguing leading lines and interesting foreground material can be a unexpected bonus provided by the mounting surface.
For the impulsive photographer like myself, you can quickly snatch the legs together, lift the whole lot up and dash off to your next vantage point with the ‘knobbles’ providing an almost perfect grip. I found myself leaving the pod attached all day and using it as a carry handle between locations.
This beautifully-ugly, delightfully-functional accessory has a reassuring robust feel and even though I haven’t owned it for too long, I trust its durability without question.
Overall, I am very impressed. This is a very useful tool indeed.There are times I would definitely pack a traditional tripod instead. However, on the occasions when I need to travel light, be flexible and be low to the ground, I would certainly choose the Gorillapod.
The price tag is a high one but if your camera is smaller or lighter, Joby have more affordable Gorillapods on offer. You may also decide to forgo the ball head to further reduce your financial distress – at least until you are sure you really need it.