January 26, 2009
Diminutive Tripod for Tight Spaces
SLR-ZoomBy 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
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