One of the things that sets a serious photographer apart from a happy snapper is the use of a tripod. Supporting the camera allows a greater range of photographic opportunities whether it is shooting in low light or the option to use different aperture / shutter speed combinations. Sure modern cameras allow fine photos to be taken hand held but supporting the camera in some way give you so many more options.
However a tripod is not always available. They tend to be large and awkward items particularly if you are on foot or public transport. There are smaller and lighter variants but few are sturdy enough to be truly useful. There are also places where tripods can’t be used or can’t be set up in such a way to allow the desired shot.
A new option for holding the camera steady is the Gorillapod from Joby. Its only similarity to the traditional tripod is that it has 3 legs. These legs are a series of articulated joints that can be twisted in any direction. With a little practice it is possible to twist these legs around almost anything. It takes little effort but they hold on tightly.
I tested it out on a steel fence and a tree branch. Using the upright parts of the fence for support gave greater stability but it was steady even with my 300 mm lens.
At this point it is worth mentioning that there are 3 sizes, one for point & shoot cameras, a larger one for slrs and the slr zoom for cameras with large zoom lens or video cameras. I have a SLR Zoom which can support up to 3 kgs. It certainly had no trouble holding my camera.
The SLR Zoom also comes with an adapter that will allow the use of a tripod head if you have a special purpose head you would like to use. I mounted the camera directly to the Gorillapod.
I had no trouble making it secure in the tree except after I got it in place I realised I couldn’t get my eye to the viewfinder, the branch was in the way! But it proved that it could be used in just about any location and not just with horizontal supports.
A recommended addition to your camera kit. Prices seem to range from $A39 to $A89 in Sydney.
For something a little different there is even a page on Flickr devoted to “gorillapod love”.