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Picture Perfect

Gp8-inset When does a camera tripod not have three rigid legs that can be extended for a variety of heights? When it’s one of Joby’s GorillaPod camera stands. These unique camera holders use bendable legs so that students and teachers can set up cameras in places that traditional tripods can’t.

GorillaPods are available in four sizes, from the Original, which is perfect for point and shoot cameras up to 11.5 ounces to the much larger Focus that can work with 11 pound cameras, lights and gear. The price ranges from $25 to $110, and can be used anywhere, indoors or out. 

The key is that each GorillaPod has a trio of segmented legs that are flexible and rotate 360 degrees into a wide variety of shapes and positions, but can still hold delicate cameras securely. On the downside, at over a pound, the Focus model can be a lot of lug around in a classroom or on field trips. It is surprisingly good for other uses, like mounting a projector or elevating a science demonstration so that everyone can see.

Not enough room to set up three legs? Try wrapping one around the edge of the table or try twisting it onto a tree branch for the exact shot you’re looking for. All GorillaPods have soft rubber feet, a ¼-inch threaded screw for attaching a camera, and the Focus model that I looked at also includes a 3/8-inch adapter for using professional equipment. The company sells a variety of accessories for GorillaPods, including a flash card holder, a bubble level and spikes for stabilizing the device in dirt or ice.

I used the Focus stand with a point and shoot, digital SLR and a video camcorder to take all sorts of pictures and videos that a tripod could not help with.  I set it upit in a variety of ways, ranging from the back of a chair and a window sill to the dashboard of a car and over a steel fence. When I encountered a situation where the Focus legs were too long, I bent them over. Unfortunately, the GorillaPod isn’t as useful when a long-legged tripod is needed, such as for a class portrait, but putting it on a table works just as well.

Gp8-horizontal About the only devices that Focus can’t handle are cell phones because they don’t have mounting screws. The company does sell a small GoGo model for $30 that has a suction cup for attaching everything from a cell phone to an iPod. 

With mini tripods selling for less than $20, the Focus’s $110 price tag is quite high, but it’s more than worth it because it can help kids and teachers get the shot. The bottom line is that at least one of these camera stands needs to be in every classroom and art room that works with digital cameras.

B+
$110

     + Stable tripod
     + Flexible legs
     + ¼-inch and 3/8-inch mounting screw

      - Not long enough for portraits
     - Heavy
     - Expensive
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