Joby’s GorillaPods have been a lighter, cheaper, and extra versatile (pun meant) various to tripods for 15 years now, permitting cameras and motion cams to be safely mounted and perched in seemingly inconceivable locations. The firm’s new PodZilla line isn’t meant to be a GorillaPod substitute, which is unlucky, as a result of the redesigned legs are an enormous enchancment.
As a rule after I’m photographing a topic in low mild or making an attempt to seize a time-lapse that requires a digital camera to be rock strong, I’ll attain for my GorillaPod and discover someplace to securely perch it. Nonetheless, through the years there have been loads of conditions the place I haven’t been in a position to get a GorillaPod to get a safe maintain (often on surfaces which might be too clean or too skinny), and that’s due to how the legs flex and grip. Has it been a dealbreaker for the product? No. Has it been irritating? Sure, which is why I’m glad to see the corporate making an attempt one thing completely different.
A Higher Grip
Not like a conventional tripod which makes use of inflexible legs that may solely be adjusted in size and splay, the GorillaPod launched an alternate three-legged stubby design that traded size changes for excessive flexibility. Whereas a tripod wants a sturdy place to face, the GorillaPod may be wrapped round nearly any object—suppose tree branches, lamp posts, or fences—and can retain its grip, holding a digital camera regular with a a lot smaller footprint. Anybody who’s ever tripped over a splayed tripod and thrown off their digital camera’s framing will perceive why that’s an excellent factor.
The GorillaPod’s legs are made up of a sequence of ball and socket joints with a really inflexible design in order that regardless of how the legs are bent and adjusted they’ll maintain that form. However the ball and socket joints every have a restricted diploma of motion, which limits how tight a radius they are often wrapped round.
The legs on Joby’s new PodZilla tripods commerce the ball and socket joints for versatile aluminum rods which might be wrapped alongside their complete size in a grippy rubber materials. In the event you’ve ever performed with a posable Gumby toy, you get the concept. The aluminum rods within the PodZilla require a bit extra pressure to bend and modify, however they maintain their place extraordinarily nicely—simply in addition to the unique GorillaPods do, if not higher—however with extra flexibility, and I’ve discovered they are often wrapped round objects which might be a lot thinner because of this.
The GorillaPod’s grip is offered by a skinny ring of rubber round every ball joint, and I’ve usually struggled to get it to securely maintain to issues like my monopod which has a clean polish end. So with a heavy digital camera perched on high, the GorillaPod tends to succumb to the forces of gravity, lose its grip, and swing down. The all-rubber legs on the PodZilla, which contains a sample of versatile ridges, holds like a rock. Making an attempt to slip the PodZilla off my clean monopod with its legs wrapped round is straight up inconceivable. The brand new design grips every part I’ve tried it on—tree branches, chair legs, hand rails—a lot better and way more securely.
An Improve That Generally Feels Like a Downgrade
The brand new PodZilla is presently accessible in two sizes, a $40, 10-inch medium choice that features an adjustable smartphone mount and is designed to carry units weighing as much as 2.2 kilos, and a $40, 12-inch massive choice that skips the smartphone mount for a quick-release tripod mount that may assist units as much as 5.5 kilos. Of the 2, I like to recommend the medium model.
The included smartphone mount attaches to the medium PodZilla’s customary tripod mount screw, and is definitely a sturdy approach to connect your cellphone. Its rubber-coated grips may be expanded to accommodate bigger smartphones, and it contains a swivel joint for adjusting your gadget’s orientation.
The medium PodZilla’s tripod mount is related to its versatile legs utilizing a ball and socket joint that may be adjusted with a easy button press. There’s nothing to show to tighten or loosen; as a substitute, some form of spring mechanism inside holds the ball joint securely in no matter orientation you select. I in all probability wouldn’t belief it with a heavy digital camera, however for a smartphone all of it works fairly nicely.
The big model of the PodZilla sadly looks like Joby has sacrificed a little bit of high quality to get the value down. A knob is used to tighten and loosen its ball and socket joint, however even when the stress is relieved and the knob is totally unscrewed, the higher portion can generally be exhausting to regulate.
The inclusion of a bubble stage is welcome, because the PodZilla can usually go away cameras perched at odd angles, however the quick-release plate (which is meant to be hooked up to the underside of a digital camera making it simple to pop on and off with out having to undo the screw) attaches very loosely to the PodZilla I examined. It meant the digital camera I had sitting on the tripod had a tiny little bit of wobble, which utterly defeats the aim of utilizing a tripod. It felt sloppy, and made the massive PodZilla really feel extra like an inexpensive accent than a real images device. It’s a problem I’ve by no means had with the GorillaPod’s quick-release plate, and I’m hoping it’s not an issue on all of the large-sized PodZillas.
Well worth the Improve?
In the event you’re already a contented GorillaPod person, and have spent a good chunk of change on Joby’s professional fashions that includes components created from machined aluminum, then by all means hold utilizing them. The present PodZilla lineup appears focused at common of us somewhat than prosumers and professionals. However if you happen to’re a GorillaPod person who’s sometimes been pissed off by the corporate’s extra inexpensive choices, the brand new PodZilla is value contemplating.
Nonetheless, between the 2 variations presently accessible, I’d suggest the medium-sized choice. It’s designed extra to be used with smartphones and tiny motion cameras, however could be very simple to make use of, and grips like a champ. The one factor that is still to be seen is how nicely Joby’s new strategy to the tripod’s versatile legs holds up over time. It doesn’t take lengthy for a steel wire flexed forwards and backwards to interrupt, so I’m hoping that the aluminum rods used within the PodZillas can survive years of being bent and unbent in all instructions.