Feb 5, 2011
On Friday I received a couple of UPS packages from one of my favorite stores: B & H Photo. Nothing bad ever comes from here. 🙂 In the packages (why they split the order I have no idea) were my new GorillaPod Original flexible tripod and some additional quick-release adapters.
I’ve been looking at the GorillaPod for some time as a great way to take self-portraits along the trail when my hiking partner isn’t around. I finally bit the bullet and bought the GP and got to take it on the trail today.
To get started, the GP comes with one quick-release adapter. It’s not a bad idea to get the 2-pack for any other small cameras you might have. I put one on my Kodak Sport digital video camera. Once the QR adapter is in the tripod socket of your camera slide it into the GP until it clicks into position. There are two controls on the GP head. The first is the release button. Pressing this will allow you to slide the QR adapter and your camera out of the head. The second is a sliding lock to keep you from accidentally releasing the QR.
The North Florida Trailblazers (local chapter for the Florida Trail Association) was hosting its annual fundraiser hike. Just over 60 of us hiked along the Suwanee River from the Big Shoals area to the Suwanee Valley Campground.
Along the way I used the GP to capture myself along the scenic river. Others offered to take my picture but then I wouldn’t have been able to write this review. I chose the Original model for its weight. It’s hard to beat a tripod that weighs 1.6 oz (from the mfgr; 1.5 by my scale.)
The GP Original worked well enough in that I was able to secure it to some small items along the way or use it as a standard trip for low shots. Unfortunately I realized a major shortcoming in this version right away. The GP design uses flexible joints to allow the legs to be wrapped around an object to secure it in place. Unfortunately, since the Original is only 6″ tall (the legs themselves are actually closer to 5″) you can only use very small objects. I had a lovely scene I wanted to capture and the smallest tree I could find was about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Even at that small size I barely got the legs around it and when I did the camera body was so close that I had to angle it. Needless to say I had to compromise and didn’t get the shot I wanted.
Sure, I can always crop and rotate in Photoshop but that’s extra work I shouldn’t have to do and I’ll lose part of the image. The GP works great if you have very small things to attach it to. I don’t think it’ll work well on the trail in practice. But there’s hope!
I think the solution is to spend the extra money to upgrade to the SLR model. It weighs more at just over 5 oz. but provides an additional 3″ to the legs. I feel this will probably be sufficient to not only get a better grip making the setup more stable and secure as well as keeping the camera away from the host object. Another potential issue I see with having to stick to small objects is that if you use a small tree or branch then it’ll probably be moving in the wind and could mess up your shot.
So I really love the concept. I just think I need to send the Original back and get the SLR.