The Joby GorillaPod is one of those ingenious designs that comes along every so often which has a simple concept and multiple uses. It can act as a small tripod, stabilizer, wrapping amount and stand for your camera, any which way you like. Since the earliest versions, the design has expanded to cater for many different sizes of camera, smartphones and even GoPro equipment. Basically, a flavor for every occasion.
In this review, we’re going to focus on the version most like the original, which is the Joby GorillaPod. The model has variations to hold different weights of cameras from 325g – 5kg, which are designated by model numbers 325 – 5k.
The GorillaPod itself is made from a few different materials, consisting of ABS plastic, rubber, aluminum, and stainless steel. On the surface, it looks like a type of regular tripod, with the optional ball head socket in place. The difference being each leg is made up of lots of bendy balls. The idea being that each leg can be bent in any direction and each ball has a rubber ring to grip onto anything it is attached to.
The whole thing feels very sturdy and in the 3k version, is good enough to hold a reasonable sized DSLR and zoom lens. The cynical side of me thinks bendy legs means they are going to come loose or break at some point in the future. I’ve owned one of these for the last 12 months and there’s no sign of anything coming loose. The unit is definitely built to a high quality and built to last.
Speaking of the optional ball head socket, its definitely worth the investment, as it’s designed exactly to the GorillaPod and also has a built-in bubble level and quick release plate. The 3K model weighs 14.1 oz or 399.7grams and 12 inches/30.5 cm in height. If you want full peace of mind to strap any DSLR and any size lens onto the GorillaPod, then go for the 5k version which also comes with an Arca-Swiss quick release plate. If you don’t own huge zoom lenses, then the 3k version will work fine.
Because the bendy legs can be molded into any configuration, there are different ways of using the GorillaPod. I think of the GorillaPod as a large grippy hand that can straighten out like fingers or move in any direction you like. The main way of using the GorillaPod is like a regular tripod standing upright. A little bit of practice is needed to get used to how the legs bend into position and which angles best support a camera. This doesn’t take long, but there is still a little getting used to time.
The legs can also be straightened out to be used as a handgrip to better stabilize images or even a selfie stick. The rubber on each ball joint adds to the grippiness and when using in Liveview on a DSLR, this way of working gives creative angle shots you wouldn’t normally think of.
The other main way of using the GorillaPod is to wrap the legs around something like a bar, rail or even a door handle. This, I think, was the original intention of the GorillaPod, which means a camera can be positioned almost anywhere and on anything. This is definitely the most fun way of using the GorillaPod. Once confident it can grip onto one thing, you’ll start gripping your camera onto anything you can think of, just for the sake of it. Garden gates, door handles, poles hanging off buildings, the list is endless.
How Does It Compare?
The camera accessory world has lots of choices and this is the case for camera supports. For short supports with the same design, Joby has this one nailed, but there are other short tripods out there such as the cheap Magnus bendable Tripod, but they are only really good for compact cameras or smartphones. A larger, more sturdy version is available, but the likes don’t seem to bend as efficiently as the GorillaPod.
Some monopods, such as the Sirui P-204S Aluminum Photo/Video Monopod have short legs, but not bendable like the GorillaPod’s. One simple and cheap alternative is the Red Pod Bean Bag. This example like a few other brands are essentially various sizes of bean bag which you rest your camera upon. They are nice supports but nowhere near as versatile as the GorillaPod.
There are also lots of copies out there, but they are built to a lower standard and it’s then down to you get what you pay for scenario.
|Joby GorillaPod||Magnus Bendable Tripod|
|Height||12 inches||9.7 inches|
|Leg Design||Ball joints||Grip trees|
I have owned different versions of the GorillaPod over the last few years and they have all served me very well. They won’t take over duties from a full size tripod, but should be thought of as a useful addition. The GorillaPod is arguably more fun and versatile to use and can go places traditional tripods can’t.
Because the legs don’t lock in place, you have to be initially tentative to what you strap the GorillaPod onto and to make sure it is as solid and secure as possible. The majority of the time it will wrap securely round most objects, but you’ll still have to use your own discretion, until you’re fully confident.
Travel photographers and bloggers have made good use of the GorillaPod as it can simply fit a wide range of situations and doesn’t weigh you down like a traditional tripod. Overall, the GorillaPod is a fantastic piece of kit which is built of quality materials, at a reasonable price point and should last for years. There’s really no excuse to not own one.
Bendy ball joint legs
Legs don’t lock
Takes practice to use
In use: 90%
Overall Score: 90%