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Small digital cameras are close to ubiquitous, but while they can do a lot, they still need to be placed somewhere for picture taking.

The Joby Gorillapod is an innovative new type of tripod with much more versatility.

 
 
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Joby Gorillapod review

A new - and improved - approach to mini-tripods
 

The Joby Gorillapod has three bendable legs that not only can be used to place a camera on a flat surface like with a normal tripod, but can also be used to wrap the camera around a pipe or to affix it in some imaginative way to all sort of other things.

 

 

A traditional tripod works well when there is a reasonably flat surface for the three legs to rest upon.

The Joby Gorillapod does that too, but goes much further than this.  Its flexible legs can be twisted and turned any which way, allowing it to wrap around things in all manner of ingenious ways, greatly extending the variety of places and positions you can have your camera mounted to take pictures.

The Gorillapod both extends your ability to take pictures of yourself and also to take slow shutter speed photos of other objects in low light and other special situations.

It is affordable ($19.95 at Amazon and elsewhere), light, and easy to use.  What's not to like about this clever little gadget.

The Joby Gorillapod - what you get

The Gorillapod comes in an easily opened plastic 'shelf hanger' box.  Inside is the tripod itself and a display sheet of graphics and information, which when you unfold it also provides the very simple and straightforward instructions you need to understand how to use the device.

Although no mention is made of this anywhere in the package, Joby's website advises the unit has a one year warranty.

How the Gorillapod Works

The Gorillapod has three legs, each of which has nine ball joints that can twist and turn through about a 90 range (ie 45 movements from straight inline in all directions).  These means each leg can form a complete circle (with an internal diameter of about 1").  Each leg is about 4.5" long.

Larger diameter and unusually shaped objects can also be gripped, although the bigger the object, obviously the more difficult it is to completely wrap a Gorillapod around it.

On the other hand, it is seldom necessary to wrap the Gorillapod completely around something in order to simply achieve a stable platform on which to place a camera.

Each of the ball joints is friction fitted into the next one, so as you turn and move them about into different shapes, they hold their shape, resisting reasonable amounts of force.

The outside of each of these ball joint/knuckles has a nonslip type of rubberized coating, as do the feet at the bottom, making it easy for the unit to stay where you put it without slipping or sliding.

And so, add all this up together, and you get a bendy, twisty, non-slip sort of thing that can be used to create a stable mounting platform for many different types of things, in places where a stable platform may not otherwise be available, and in places where a typical tripod would completely not work.

Gorillapod Models

These days there are a large number of different Gorillapod tripods.

Original Model

Their 'original' model (reviewed on this page) is designed for compact cameras weighing up to 11.5 oz, and which have a tripod mounting thread in their base.  This unit retails for $19.95, weighs 1.6 oz, and has nine pieces in each of the three legs.

Most modern compact digital cameras will weigh much less than 11.5 oz.  The heavier of my two, which is four years old, weighs almost exactly half that (5.7 oz), and a more modern one that is only a few months old weighs 4.7 oz.

Every compact digital camera I've ever seen comes with a screw thread in their base to allow them to be mounted to a tripod, and as far as I'm aware, they all use the same standard screw.  So you should have no problems mounting your camera onto the Gorillapod.

Note that some other devices may also come with compatible screw threaded bases.  And, for devices that don't have such bases, Joby also offers two additional types of mount - an adhesive base mount and a suction cup mount.

The original model comes in seven different colors, the others are just in muted black/grey.

Magnetic Model Gorillapod

This is the same as the original model, but rather than having plastic non-slip rubberized feet, it has magnets in the base of each of the three legs, allowing it and a camera on it to be magnetically mounted on iron'/steel materials (but not stainless steel, aluminium, or most other metals).  You pay an extra $5 (ie $24.95) for the magnetically enhanced Gorillapod.

Heavier Weight Model Gorillapods

Joby also make three extra models capable of holding greater weights.  The SLR model will hold up to 1.75 lbs ($39.95), the SLR-Zoom holds up to 6.5 lbs ($49.95) and the Focus holds up to 11 lbs ($99.95).

Gorillamobile

Joby has also acknowledged the growing reality that many people these days take pictures and even video not with a camera or camcorder, but with their phone.

They accordingly offer a line of 'Gorillamobile' mounts, one with a custom fitted sleeve for iPhone 3G and 3GS models (not yet a sleeve for an iPhone 4, another for an iPod Touch, and another with generic mounting accessories for all other phones and devices.

Gorillatorch

For the sake of completeness, their product line also includes two small flashlights mounted on their flexible tripods, one with a 65 lumen output, the other with a 100 lumen output.

These can be useful when doing things at night and you need a 'third hand' - one to hold the flashlight, and the other two to be working on whatever it is you're needing to fix in the dark.

Using the Gorillapod

It was very easy and simple to mount a camera onto the Gorillapod's quick release adapter, then to slide the adapter into the top of the Gorillapod.

I played with the Gorillapod, mounting it to all sorts of things around the house.  Door knobs of various sizes and shapes, stair handrails, kitchen appliances, drawers, and anything/everything else I could find that had the potential for the unit to be mounted onto, and with my heavier weight camera on the unit too.

Everything worked fine with no problems.

Suggestion

Consider buying some extra mounting adapters.  As you become more familiar with the whole new world of mounting capabilities offered by the Gorillapod, the next part of the process is to expand the range of things you mount with the Gorillapod, going beyond just cameras and phones.

The Gorillapod compared to the Quik Pod

See our earlier review of the ingenious Quik Pod - a device that simply allows you to hold a camera slightly further away from yourself when taking pictures.

The Gorillapod can be used in a similar way, but you'll only get 3" - 4" of extension, compared to the up to 18" of extension on the Quik Pod.  Yes, even 4" of extra extension is a slight improvement over no extension, but it is not nearly as good as the 18" offered by the Quik Pod.

For that reason, we don't see the Gorillapod replacing a Quik Pod, and suggest you consider having both items in your travel bag.

Summary

The Gorillapod is inexpensive, light, and takes up very little space in your travel bag.  It is easy to use and versatile.

It greatly extends the places where you can take pictures of yourself (or of other things where you need the extra stability of a tripod).

It is a great stocking stuffer/gift for friends, and equally good as something for yourself too.

It is readily available at Amazon and many other places, typically for about $20.

Recommended.
 

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Originally published 17 Sep 2010, last update 15 Oct 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
 
 

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