Rating: ★★★★★

Joby’s Gorillamobile is a great device. But I don’t usually shoot at weird angles with a point-and-shoot. I reserve my best and most unique shots for my DSLR, and the Gorillamobile is too small for that. So Joby – the ball-hinge tripod and accessories company – built the Gorillapod SLR-Zoom, made specifically for larger DSLRs with heavier bodies and larger lenses.

And it does a pretty good job of holding up my Nikon D7000. By that, I mean my baby hasn’t been dropped once, and went through all my testing unscathed.

Testing the SLR-Zoom was a heart-wrenching experience. Like when putting a TV on a wall mount for the first time with everything hooked up, eventually you have to let go and hope it holds strong. That one moment of anxiety, where your heart stands in a lurch, was commonplace. My D7000 was strapped to the tripod upside down, hanging from tree branches, and in other hazardous positions far above both soft and hard ground. With relief, I can state that the SLR-Zoom never once gave way. The last thing I wanted to see was over a thousand dollars of equipment succumbing to gravity and heinous normal forces.

The Gorillapod SLR-Zoom can be bent in so many shapes…it could be a stop-animation character

Besides the size and weight capacity, there isn’t much different between the SLR-Zoom and Gorillamobile tested earlier this week. Both use identical – albeit differently sized – ball hinges as tripod legs, which are excellent for standing up straight as well as strapping onto various surfaces. The SLR-Zoom also has a screw-on ballhead connector, which has the actual screw for the camera (which includes a built-in level) and allows for an even wider range of motion for the camera itself. It can sit at a full 90° angle using a small slit in the ballhead. Otherwise, the two products are nearly identical.

However, anyone interested in a Joby tripod should know what sort of weights they deal with before buying. Using one of my larger lenses, a Sigma 30mm 1.4 (short but heavy) the SLR-Zoom would bend under the weight when held at an angle. The SLR model supports up to 800 grams, the SLR-Zoom 3Kg, and the Focus (for professional grade cameras and camcorders), 5Kg. Most DSLRs will work fine with the SLR-Zoom, but if you plan on using larger lenses, it would be safer to get the Focus, even for double the price of the Zoom. Using my D7000 with no attachments except for various lenses (prime and zoom lenses, but no long-distance primes), the SLR-Zoom could hold my equipment in the field without concern. Had I tacked on a battery pack, larger lens and a flash apparatus, that may not hold true, but it’s important to check the weight and compare it to what the tripod can handle.

The Gorillapod SLR-Zoom proved to be exceptionally useful, even without holding a camera

Writing this review, my D7000 is dangling from a bookshelf facing certain doom, but has held in place so far. I have no doubt it will continue to, because it’s sat there for an entire day without moving. Those rubber-coated ball hinges have excellent grip…I can’t say without a doubt I’m not apprehensive, even after over 24 hours of hanging there, but the stress has faded significantly.

My confidence in Joby’s Gorillapod SLR-Zoom is set in stone. It hasn’t dropped my camera or felled any equipment since the day I began testing. It’s stable as can be, durably built, well designed, and a great compliment to any photographer’s arsenal. It really is a working-man’s tripod; you’ll never know when you need it, and I’ve always missed it when I didn’t bring it along. With the SLR-Zoom, I have started to think about how I can take certain shots considering camera placement at odd angles, and not just in my hands.



James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.