Joby GorillaPod Focus and Ballhead X "Review"
EDIT: Within an hour of publishing this post, one of the legs popped out of the socket. I haven't been able to get it back in, and have contacted Joby. I'm hoping replacing my Focus will be a hassle-free process. I'll try to remember to keep all of you updated on the process.
I have a pretty nice tripod, but I use it very rarely. While some photographers, especially studio photographers, use their tripod more often than not, the only time I use mine is long exposures, shooting wildlife, and when I absolutely have to because of lighting conditions. For some reason though, Joby's GorillaPod Focus was calling to me.
Before the Focus, I purchased Joby's GorillaPod GripTight, which is designed for smartphones. I had already been looking for a tripod mount for my phone, the GripTight wasn't much more, and I figured the GripTight would give me a pretty good idea of what the more expensive GorillaPods would be like. Although the GripTight was much smaller than I was expecting, it helped persuade me to purchase a GorillaPod for my D750.
For the next few weeks, I obsessed over which model and combination to go with. I debated between the GorillaPod Zoom and Focus for a few days, and ultimately decided the Focus was the way to go, even though it was twice as much. The next big decision I had to make was whether or not to get just the Focus without the ballhead, or go all out and get the Focus and Ballhead X package.
As I mentioned before, I already have a pretty nice tripod and ballhead, and I couldn't make up my mind if I needed an additional ballhead for $50 more. Eventually, I decided to go for the Focus and Ballhead X package. One of the reasons was because I didn't want to have to keep switching the ballhead between my two tripods. The biggest reason was REI only carried the GorillaPod Focus and Ballhead X package, and not just the Focus legs. I don't normally purchase my camera equipment from REI, but I'm a member and have their credit card, so I get 15% back on all of my purchases from there.
I've had the GorillaPod Focus for about two weeks now, and so far I like it. I like it a lot. I like it much more than I thought I would. I might go as far to say that I love it. Some of the things I've noticed that I like are:
The ball joints are pretty stiff, but still easy enough to manipulate. This means that the Focus will support my D750 when I wrap it around a pole or tree, but I won't struggle doing it in the first place.
Speaking of wrapping the Focus around things, I've done this a few times with my D750 mounted, and I've felt pretty comfortable with my DSLR hanging in various positions.
The Focus is incredibly versatile. Some of you may be familiar with the Focus because of Casey Neistat. He does a better job than I would of explaining all of the things the Focus can do in this video here: Link. I had my doubts about using the GorillaPod as a video rig, but I've tried it, and it works. The GorillaPod works so well as a video rig, I'd be willing to use it in public, even though I look like an idiot.
The Focus is also incredibly convenient. My 3 Legged Thing Brian may be a better tripod overall, but the Focus is easily the winner in terms of convenience. The Focus is lighter, takes up less space, and I don't have to fiddle around with leg locks to get it set up. Some of you may be asking, "but couldn't you just use your regular tripod without the legs extended?" Of course I could, but it isn't the same.
The Ballhead X uses an Arca-swiss baseplate, so I can use the baseplates I already with the new ballhead.
The Ballhead X has grippy, rubber knobs.
Here are some of the things I've noticed that I don't like (they're all about the ballhead).
The Ballhead X's baseplate and d-ring feel incredibly cheap. I'm not sure what material the baseplate and screw are made out of, but I don't like it.
The Ballhead X doesn't have a single bubble level. My 3 Legged Thing Airhead has three bubble levels, as well as one on the legs. My D750 has a level built in, but bubble levels are a bit more convenient.
I'm pretty worried about the ball joints wearing out eventually and becoming too loose that the GorillaPod won't be useable anymore. I have no idea what the lifespan of these are, but I'm hoping I get my money's worth out of it.
Overall, I'm really excited about the GorillaPod Focus, and all of the ways I can potentially use it. I've had the Focus attached to my D750 ever since it showed up, and while my regular tripod tends to stay at home, the GorillaPod will probably be one of those pieces of gear that's always with me. I don't know I'd recommend purchasing the Focus instead of a normal tripod, but I think it's something photographers of all levels should consider picking up.
Here are some photos of the GorillaPod Focus:
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Dan Pomykalski (PAWM-I-KALS-kee) is a portrait photographer based in Madison, WI. Dan works with both individual clients and larger organizations, such as the Wisconsin Alumni Foundation, the Janesville Jets, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and the University of Wisconsin-Rock County. Dan was also the photo editor for the student-run newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Royal Purple, for the 2013 Spring and 2013 Fall semesters. Although Dan's clients are mostly from the Dane County area, he is more than happy to travel wherever necessary.
Although Dan is primarily a portrait photographer, he has ample amounts of experience in other types of photography such as weddings, events, product photography, real estate, and sport photography.
In 2016, expertise.com ranked Dan Pomykalski Photography the 2nd best portrait photographer in Madison, WI out of 204 others in the area.
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