January 26, 2009

Gorillapod™ Focus
Diminutive Tripod for Tight Spaces



By David A. Saraceno

Some jobs require both handheld and locked down shots in environments that are inconsistent with full-sized sticks. Others dictate that you travel lightly, shoot handheld, and quickly grab some steady shots as well. In these situations, a small tripod may not be sturdy enough to be trusted with an expensive camcorder. A large tripod would take too long to set up and would be too intrusive for the shoot. What you need instead is a small, strong and inexpensive gorilla.

Joby has provided innovative photographic accessories for years, mostly notably its line of small, flexible still camera tripods called Gorillapods™. They feature unique grasping legs that firmly tether "point and shoot" or digital SLR still cameras to an appropriate surface to provide stability to the shot. The Gorillapod Focus, a larger and more robust version of the original product, now offers this functionality for camcorders up to eleven (11) pounds. This is a nice accessory, but is not indicated for every shoot. I don't recommend using it with rails, 35 mm adapters, or any unbalanced configuration.

The Focus doesn't require a level surface to achieve a balanced, level shot. The three legs incorporate nine flexible, bendable machined aluminum sockets that are adjusted to level the camcorder. Three gripping soft ball feet provide a sturdy platform.

The Focus includes an adapter screw for 1/4- and 3/8-inch cams and tripod plates. Once attached to a quick release plate, you can move between the Focus, your main tripod, and a shoulder mount support. It's pretty versatile. I attached it to a Marshall V-R70P-HDA to monitor a shot.

Joby offers a few accessories for its products, including additional mounts for its smaller tripods. Though not a deal breaker, no bubble leveling gauge is provided. As I stated, maximum load is about eleven (11) pounds, but I don't suggest using the Focus with rails, adapters or any accessory that would render it unbalanced. The unit weighs about a pound and measures about 12-inches long.

Two Gorillapods were used to photograph the product shots you see here. The Focus with the HMC150 was photographed with a Nikon D200 mounted on the SLR-Zoom. I also used a Canon "point and shoot" with the Original Gorillapod. The Panasonic HPX170 also worked well with the Focus.

This is a nice mini tripod, good flexibility, solid construction, and easy to set up and use. Its machined aluminum sockets with anodized gunmetal finish provides a professional look, as well. While not for every shoot, it provides an innovative tool for the right shooting environment.

David A. Saraceno is a motion graphics artist located in Spokane, Washington. He has written for DV Magazine, AV Video, MacHome Journal, and several state and national legal technology magazines. David moderates several forums on 2-pop.com, contributes as a Level IV at the Apple Discussions, and is active at dvxuser.com.


copyright © David A. Saraceno 2009

This article first appeared on lafcpug and is reprinted here with permission.

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