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Reviews > Cameras > Photography Accessories > Joby Gorilla Pod > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

Joby Gorillapod

Test Series by Ryan Christensen

Last Update - March 3, 2008

Gorillpod
Joby Gorillapod

ACCESS MAIN REPORT SECTIONS VIA THESE LINKS:

INITIAL REPORT
October 11, 2007
FIELD REPORT
January 6, 2008
LONG-TERM REPORT
March 3, 2008

INITIAL REPORT
October 11, 2007

Reviewer Information:

Backpacking Background:

Name: Ryan L. Christensen

Age:  43

Gender:  Male

Height:  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)

Weight:  235 lb (102 kg)

Email address:  bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com

City, State, Country:  Idaho Falls, Idaho, U.S.A

I began backpacking at twelve, continuing until 25. After an extended hiatus, due in part to a bad back, I resumed cycling, hiking, and backpacking several years ago and began snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I share my love for backpacking and these sports with my children. For several years, we have hiked or camped nearly every month, year-round. We vary our experience: desert, forest, meadow, and mountain; spring, summer, fall, and winter; sunshine, rain, wind, or snow. I am a lightweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.

Product Information:

The information below comes from the Joby website

Gorillapod

Manufacturer:

Joby

Manufacturer website:

http://www.joby.com

Place of Manufacture:

China

Year Manufactured:

2007

Material:

According to Joby Customer Service
Segments - engineering thermoplastic
Ring Grips - thermoplastic elastomer
Metal Parts - stainless steel

Colors Available:

Black/Grey
Black/Yellow
Black/Red
Black/Pink
Black/Green
Black/Blue

Sizes Available:

Original - holds up to 9.7 oz (275 g)
SLR - holds up to 1.75 lb (800 g)
SLR-Zoom - holds up to 6.5 lb (3,000 g)

Return Policy:

"Joby is committed to guaranteeing your complete satisfaction with our products. We will be happy to exchange a product or return your money if you are not 100% pleased with your purchase."

MSRP:

Original - $24.95 USD
SLR - $44.95 USD
SLR-Zoom - $54.95 USD

 

Product Specifications

Manufacturer’s Specifications

 

Listed Weight:

Original - 1.6 oz (45.3 g)
SLR - 2 lb 9 oz (1.2 kg)
SLR-Zoom - 2 lb 14 oz (1.3 kg)

Listed Height:

Original - 5.9 in (15 cm)
SLR - 9.8 in (250 cm)
SLR-Zoom - 9.8 in (250 cm)

Adapter:

Original - Universal in (6 mm) tripod screw

SLR - Universal in (6 mm) tripod screw

SLR-Zoom - Universal in (6 mm) tripod screw plus 3/8 in (10 mm) adapter screw

Tester’s Actual Measurements

 

Weight:

Original - 1.5 oz (42.5 g)

Height:

Original - 5.9 in (15 cm)

Color Tested:

Black/Grey

Product Description:

The Gorillapod is a somewhat extra-terrestrial looking tripod. Like traditional tripods, the Gorillapod can be used to support one's camera or video camera in low-light conditions and when taking timed individual or group shots. However, it is so much more than a mere tripod. In fact on its website, Joby advertises the Gorillapod as "The Original Go-Anywhere, Do-Everything Tripod Your Compact Digital Camera Won't Want to Live Without"

The Gorillapod original that I am testing has three legs that each consist of ten spheres and nine flexible joints. There are two similar spheres with two flexible joints which support the head. The legs and joints are made from an engineering thermoplastic. Each flexible joint bends and rotates 360 degrees. Each of the thirty-two spheres (except the three feet) has a 0.125 in (0.32 cm) elastomer grip ring. Each of the three feet is coated half-way up with the elastomer. According to Joby, the combination of multiple flexible joints and the elastomer grip rings and feet enable one to use the Gorillapod in a lot of non-traditional ways. Unlike a traditional tripod, on can wrap the Gorillapod around a tree branch, ski pole, or place it on an uneven rock to get that "perfect" shot.

The head consists of a flat, tapered platform, a removable camera attachment, and means of locking the attachment to the head. The flat platform measures approximately 1 in (2.54 cm) lengthwise, 0.875 in (2.2 cm) widthwise at one end and 0.75 in (1.9 cm) at the other end. The platform is approximately 0.25 in (0.6 cm) thick. Like the leg components, the platform is thermoplastic. However the removable camera attachment is stainless steel. The removable camera attachment has a universal 0.25 in (0.6 cm) tripod screw that attaches it to the camera. There is a button with Joby printed on it that releases the camera attachment. This button is approximately 0.5 in (1.3 cm) in diameter. The section where the elastomer grip ring is on the sphere just below the platform rotates to lock/unlock the camera attachment. There are symbols showing which position is locked and which is unlocked.

The images below show the spheres, flexible joints, elastomer grip rings and feet, and the head.

Images below courtesy of Joby website

Leg Joints

Lock Ring Camera Attachment Foot

Initial Impression:

Apparently I did not pay close enough attention to the details in the Test Call or the website when I prepared my application, as the Gorillapod was smaller than I anticipated. Nevertheless, I was impressed with its high-tech look and feel.

Initial Testing:

I immediately began moving the flexible joints to create all sorts of contortions. Once that was out of my system, I wanted to see if this little tripod would support the Fuji S5100 digital camera that I typically use while hiking, backpacking, skiing, and snowshoeing. This camera weighs approximately 17 oz (482 g), nearly double the advertised maximum weight load for the Gorillapod original. Nevertheless, I wanted to try it. With the lens parallel to the support platform, or slightly declining, the head immediately bent down and the camera and Gorillapod quickly fell over. However, with the lens in a slightly inclined position, the Gorilla pod supported the 17 oz (482 g) camera without incident.

Next, without a camera attached, I proceeded to bend the Gorillapod around my fireplace mantle, the handrail to the basement, and the leg of a chair. In each instance, the Gorillapod remained securely in the exact location and configuration in which I placed it. I am excited to test this unique feature of the Gorillapod using a camera, albeit one within the maximum weight load.

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FIELD REPORT
January 6, 2008

Gorillapod on Trekking Pole

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

In October, I hiked in Hell's Half Acre National Landmark. The elevation is approximately 5,300 ft (1,615 m) above sea level. The temperature was in the 50s F (10 - 15 C), winds were calm, the sky was overcast and there was a slight rain on one of the hikes. Hell's Half Acre is a 66,000 acres (267 km2) lava field and is the youngest of the eastern basaltic lava fields of the Snake River Plain of southeastern Idaho. The photo to the right is typical of Hell's Half Acre. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website says "... the lava in Hell's Half Acre erupted about 4,100 years ago... was probably about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the consistency of molasses, and traveled at speeds up to 30 mph.... Lava rock is extremely sharp, glassy and fragmented, with open cracks, lava tubes and caves. The most prevalent landscape consists of A'a (ah-ah) and Pahoehoe (pa-hoy-hoy) lava flows.... Hiking in Hell's Half Acre is a unique and somewhat surreal experience. It is quite possibly unlike any other place on earth.

Generally, one snowshoes or skis to the yurts in the Portneuf Range Yurt System. However, in November, I wanted to get in an easy late-fall backpacking trip with my 12 yr old son. Therefore, we chose to hike to the Catamount yurt near Inkom, Idaho. The trip into the Catamount Yurt is 2.25 mi (3.6 km) one way with a vertical gain of 816 ft (249 m) across mainly open and rolling terrain. We began this hike at approximately 8:00 p.m. MST with temperatures in the low 40's F (4+ C). The sky was partially overcast, but no precipitation; winds were calm.

The day after Thanksgiving, the family and I went hiking, and cut down a Christmas tree, in Kelly Canyon located approximately 26 mi (42 km) northeast of Idaho Falls, Idaho. Kelly Canyon is in the Targhee National Forest near the South Fork of the Snake River. The skies were clear, winds calm, and temperatures were in the low 30's F (-1+ C). There was about 4 in (10 cm) of light, granular snow on the ground.

Group PhotoNew Year's Day night, a friend and his son, my 16 yr old son, my 12 yr old son and his friend, and I went cross-country skiing in the Kelly Canyon Nordic Area. We began skiing around 5:30 pm and took a couple hours to ski into the warming hut. We spent the night, snowshoed and skied out the next day. The Kelly Canyon Nordic Area is located 26 mi (42 km) northeast of Idaho Falls, near the South Fork of the Snake River. It starts at an elevation of approximately 5,900 ft (1,798 m) and reaches elevations as high as 6,700 ft (2,042 m). The temperature when we set out was approximately 14 F (-10 C) with mild winds and fairly clear sky. The overnight temperature dropped to 1 F (-17 C).

Observations:

It is very simple, I really like this tripod, especially on the correct size camera. The Gorillapod is lightweight and extremely adaptable to nearly any condition. The elastomer grip rings and feet provide excellent grip on virtually every surface (including trekking poles as shown in the photo above). I have been so impressed with the Gorillapod that I had to show it to a friend of mine (shown in the skiing photo above). He liked it so well that he bought one for his wife for Christmas--she likes her black/red one too.

During this phase of the test, I have carried the Gorillapod on five separate outings. I placed it on rocks, fence posts, signs, tree stumps, tree branches, and my trekking poles to get the "right" shot. The group photo shown above is one of many taken using the Gorillapod. Not only have I used it for group shots, but the Gorillapod has enabled me to take much better self-shots when hiking solo. The detachable camera attachment makes setup for a shot quick and painless. I pull out the camera, snap it into the Gorillapod, set the legs/feet, set the timer (if required) and I'm good to go.

Additionally, I have used the Gorillapod several times around the house--including some photos that I will include in other test reports. As mentioned in my Initial Report, it worked marginally with a heavier camera. It worked quite well for me with a lightweight digital camera. However, when my 16yr old son tried using it with a small video camera to create a commercial for one of his classes, the Gorillapod bounced around too much. He opted for the digital camera which required less stability.

The joints remain secure, but flexible and continue to move smoothly and freely in all directions. Once set, they remain in the exact location and configuration in which I placed them. In fact, when using a camera within the Goriallapod Original's weight limitations, I have not had any concern with it toppling, tilting, or sliding out of position, even in cold temperatures. I have yet to see whether rain/snow have any affect in this regard.

Likes:

Dislikes:

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LONG-TERM REPORT
March 3, 2008

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

The Kelly Canyon Nordic Area located 26 mi (42 km) northeast of Idaho Falls, in the Targhee National Forest. The Nordic Area starts at an elevation of approximately 5,900 ft (1,798 m) and reaches elevations of 6,700 ft (2,042 m). The temperature shortly after 8:00 p.m. MST when we began skiing was 14 F (-10 C) and there was no wind. Based on the height of the trail sign-in box, I estimate there was 4+ ft (1.2+ m) of snow. With the overnight low temperature of 1 F (-17 C) in Idaho Falls, I guess we had a low of approximately -4 F (-20 C) and it was probably close to this temp as we climbed Norm's Hill in our snowshoes.

Harriman State Park located 18 mi (29 km) north of Ashton, Idaho or 45 mi (72 km) south of West Yellowstone, Montana. The park lies within an 11,000-acre (44.5 km 2) wildlife refuge in the greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In the winter time, there are more than 20 mi (32 km) of trails available for cross-county skiing and snowshoeing. The skies were partly cloudy, with snow showers most of the day Saturday. The temperature ranged from 21 F to 37 F (-6 C to 3 C).

I have also used the Gorillapod around the house taking photos for other gear reviews. My children have also used it to take photos for school projects. During this phase of the test, my children and I have used the Gorillapod more than eight days.

Observations:

This tripod has performed well during this final phase of the test. During these cold winter months in the backcountry, I have primarily used the Gorillapod attached to a ski pole to take group photos or other photos in low light settings. However, I have also used it resting on tables inside yurts to take photos in low light conditions. I have also used it on tree limbs, but much less so since the snow began to fly. The elastomer grip rings and feet continue to provide excellent grip. For the most part, the Gorillapod stays nicely in the position in which I place it. Occasionally, depending on the support used and the angle of the camera, I have to work a bit to secure the Gorillapod such that it remains in place throughout the photo. This usually involves selecting a stouter tree limb. The colder temperatures and even the snow have not negatively affected the grip. Consequently, I have been able to take some nice group photographs which include me that otherwise I would have been unable to take.

This tripod has been very easy for my children to use as well. They have used it a few times to take photographs for school projects. The Gorillapod has provided the stability and support needed for their particular use. They have really enjoyed adjusting it to get just the right angle for their photograph.

Although this particular tripod may not provide the stability and fine adjustment needed for professional photography, it is more than adequate for what I believe to be its intended purpose: lightweight, mobile situations. Being small and lightweight, it has become a staple in my pack. I have taken it with me on all outings since receiving it. I will continue to carry it in my pack well beyond this test. I really like the photographic options it affords me.

All joints continue to move smoothly. They are as secure and flexible as the day I received the Gorillapod. The camera attachment is still very easy to remove and the lock ring holds it secure. There are no scratches or abrasions on the spheres, elastomer feet or grip rings.

Likes:

Dislikes:

Top of Page


This concludes my Report Series. Thanks to JOBY and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to test the Gorillapod.



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Read more gear reviews by Ryan Lane Christensen

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