I received the Joby GorillaPod SLR-Zoom Tripod as a gift before my honeymoon. What sets the GorillaPod apart is its flexible legs. My intent was to use it to setup shots of myself and my husband on our Mediterranean adventure. While I kept it on my camera backpack for a portion of the trip, I don’t recall ever actually using it successfully.
One reason I didn’t pull it out more often was concern about theft. Since our stops were at tourist locations, the idea of setting up my camera and walking away didn’t appeal to me. Second, I didn’t trust the GorillaPod to hold up my precious DSLR. I found the legs difficult to setup in a secure manner. When wrapped around poles it slid down even without the weight of the camera. No amount of finagling seemed to help. Now if I were staying with the camera, say to shoot a long-exposure night shot, I’d probably be more willing to use the GorillaPod. I could keep an eye on the camera in case it started to slide or someone with sticky fingers became interested.
It wasn’t until last year that I found a way to put the GorillaPod to use. Speedlites! I was setting up a table shot for some food photography. I wanted to only light the background, so I had to place the flash very low. My light stand wouldn’t go low enough, so I grabbed the GorillaPod and was able to put the flash exactly where I needed it. It handled the weight with no problem. I even left the setup overnight so I could finish up the next day. The flash didn’t budge.
The ballhead and level are nice since you can adjust the camera/flash to the exact angle you need. I actually prefer this ballhead to the tripod head on my Manfrotto, but sadly it doesn’t fit on there. It’s very easy to adjust without having to mess with a bunch of handles and levers.The ballhead on mine is very loose, so I recommend making sure it’s tightened most of the way down before placing your camera/flash on it. The quick release plate is also a nice feature.
Joby offers a few different versions of this tripod: Original, Magnetic, Video, SLR, SLR-Zoom, and Focus. Mine is the SLR-Zoom which will set you back about $50. I’d be interested to try the Focus as it is made for more heavy duty use.
TL;DR: The GorillaPod is an innovative product. It’s small size and lightweight construction make it a great travel tripod. While I don’t find it steady enough for my DSLR, I found it useful for getting speedlites into tricky spots. This is a niche product, so I recommend getting your hands on it before you purchase.