I was having a little dilemma recently as to how to get my lightstands onto a plane with minimal effort and costs. On top of the plane restriction issues, I’m planning to spend a few days in florence and don’t fancy dragging my entire light stand bag around in the heat. Then, my friend Kari showed me her Joby Gorillapod– up until that point I’d always thought it was something they sold for compact cameras and it was more of a hobbyist item. Actually, you can get the largest version (SLR-zoom with or without the ballhead attachment) which they say supports the weight of a DSLR with a zoom lens on it (it’s rated for 3kg). They also have a heavier duty one which can support up to 5kg so if you have like a D4s or 1DX I think you’d need to get the gorillapod focus model.
I bought mine from Clifton Cameras with the ballhead- definitely get the version with the ballhead because on its own the ballhead is already £65, yet you can get the tripod and ballhead for only £10 more at £75. I opted to get it from Clifton Cameras, which sells many DSLRs, because I need a UK supplier with faster postage to get it to me in time for that weekend’s wedding. I paid for the standard postage but amazingly Clifton Cameras got it to me by the next day, woohoo!
It comes in a plastic box, there aren’t any instructions with it, just some rather exotic photos of things you could possibly use it for but realistically never would i.e. precariously balancing the camera on a cliff face with the gorillapod hanging on like a boulderer. I would say it’s pretty self explanatory if you’ve ever used a tripod before, button at the back releases the base plate that screws into the tripod screw of your camera, or in my case the off camera flash, after that it’s a case of bending the legs to suit your needs.
They were clever enough to make the bottom of the base plate have a screw that can turn without needing to turn the plastic plate itself, meaning that you can screw it onto anything and it won’t collide with your received cold shoes etc. However, I found that a bit fiddly (it’s the kind of screw that you need to do with a coin or nails), so I opted to just screw it onto a frio by turning the whole base plate.
The other advantage of this was that if you’re positioning your Gorillapod somewhere potentially precarious, you probably want to ensure your speedlight and receiver stay in, a frio is a sure fire lock, no risk of anything sliding out, so in my head that just makes sense.
As I said, I bought this with the purpose of an alternative, smaller, lighter plane friendly version of a light stand. I am kind of going on the premise that wherever I choose to use it will have sort of tree or beam, my friend said she used it hanging off the DJ’s set up. The good news is that you won’t have to be editing out any lightstand legs in any of your shots, so I knew that’d be a bonus. Here’s how I used it at last weekend’s wedding. I wanted to fake some kind of warm light through the trees, personally I would’ve got it a bit higher but even with a chair this was the tallest part I could reach.
I suppose what you really want to see is it being used in crazy locations. Be nice to me because this was genuinely difficult as I have tendonitis from two weddings ago and you really do have to bend the legs. When it’s fresh out of the box, some of the individual segments really need cracking to bend, I think over time it’d become easier. It did feel a little bit like some physics crystal maze game where I had to work out what positioning would actually keep the speedlight in place.
Here’s that pesky lobster:
Nobody grass me up that I hung it on the special chandelier thingy…
I hope my neighbours didn’t spot me hanging it on our dividing fence- might’ve looked like I was installing a spy cam or something…
In case you want to freak some birds out…
Suffice to say, as long as you get your calculations right the gorillapod really can grid and stay in all sorts of positions, I was super impressed and for those who catch public transport to weddings or shoot destination weddings, this could be a nice solution.