By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
For video bloggers and action camera geeks, the Joby GorillaPod line of wrap around tripods has been an ideal tool for carrying around their cameras to grab that first person point of view. Not only is it comfortable enough to hold in hand and bend it to just the right angle to frame yourself in camera, but it’s spherical connectors enable the GorillaPod to bend around anything. That makes the world your tripod. But there was always one thing missing … additional attachment points. That’s where the GorillaPod Mobile Rig can lend a literal hand.
“Our community of JOBY makers live in the moment. They are constantly looking for the next content creation opportunity and need tools that are as unique and flexible as they are,” said Tim Grimmer, Vice President of Brand and Product for JOBY, Vitec Imaging Solutions. “With our new GorillaPod Mobile Rig, we’re helping vloggers and mobile video content producers truly get a grip on the creative capabilities of their smartphones and action cameras.”
Arms. The GorillaPod Mobile Rig is pretty much a standard GorillaPod, but it has a few extra features, including a set of arms. Yes, that’s right, ARMS. Two side mounted arms attach via screw in connections just below the mobile centric camera mount. These arms are made of the same spherical sockets that give the GorillaPod its flexibility. But there’s only six of them, on each arm to keep the GorillaPod Mobile Rig’s center of gravity and balance, when using in a tripod configuration. The arms screw into the base of the smartphone mount with ¼”-20 tripod connections, and offer two additional Cold Shoe mounts and one GoPro mount to add up to three devices at one time (including one on top of your smartphone).
Smartphone Mount. The smartphone phone is extremely well made, almost like it was designed to have military grade specifications for durability and a solid grip. Joby didn’t go cheap on the materials here either. While most of the GorillaPod Mobile Rig is made of high impact polycarbonate plastic, the smartphone cradle is solid, high grade stainless steel. It has an adjustable slide that can fit almost any smartphone, and a tighten down knob in the back to make it a snug fit. There are also rubber strips to give your smartphone a comfortable hug. The mount also rotates from landscape, to vertical video position, for all you Instagram freaks, and it also has a secondary adjustment knob for changing the angle of the smartphone itself. So there’s plenty of ways to get your selfie in frame.
Tripod. Frankly, I found that the size of the GorillaPod tripod section was a big too small, although it seems visually to be balanced an appealing. I would prefer a beefier option. If you look at the video above, there is one shot where the vlogger puts his rig down next to a fountain to get a low angle shot. If you’ve seen any Casey Neistat videos, you know that he uses one and they have a tendency to fall over due to the weight of a DSLR.
I don’t think that will happen with an iPhone X, but at $1,000, I’m not taking any chances that my smartphone may tip over, by itself. If you have an external microphone on one arm, or a GoPro, and, a Lume Cube video light on the other, the balance may be a bit off. Joby also has a standard Gorilla Pod Rig with the same articulating arms for larger cameras like a point and shoot or DSLR. So you can always go with that option.
Or, if you want to save another $100, you can unscrew the lower part of the mobile rig and replace it with an extra, larger Joby GorillaPod you may have lying around. Thanks to the standard 1/4-20 tripod connection that is on all Joby products, the lower end is interchangeable. Now my GorillaPod Mobile Rig has a beefier footprint for when I want to use the rig in a tripod configuration. The beefier legs may be overkill, but they buy me peace of mind when I’m trying to set down my rig to get another angle and don’t want to take the time to take everything else off. Those legs will give me more of a load to shoulder.
Price. Now here’s the downside. At $99, the Joby GorillaPod Mobile Rig isn’t really cheap, compared to it’s other GorillaPod offerings. And when you consider the standard size tripod legs, it seems a bit overpriced to me. The GorillaPod Rig is even pricier at $159. And all it has is a ball head setup and those same beefier legs. But considering you can get a standard GorillaPod for under $30 now, with those very same legs, you’re basically paying another $70 for the two arms, and the smartphone cradle itself. You see what I’m getting at? Joby seems to be aware of this, and offers an upgrade kit for current GorillaPod users. You can give your GPod arms for just $44.95. But you have to bring your own ballhead or smartphone cradle to the party.
All told, I think that the Joby Gorilla Pod Mobile is a must have for any video blogger just starting out,or action camera geek that wants to add a little more production value to their images. It allows you to add the option of using an external microphone, and an LED video light for night time shooting, which makes it a very useful tool for mobile filmmaking. If you can find it on sale, then definitely, get one.
I’ll be using mine for next week’s coverage of Comic-Con and I expect it to work great! And I may even buy the upgrade kit to add to my other GorillaPods! Why not?