on May 15, 2022
If you have a camera with an internal stabiliser that lets you wave it about like a paper pinwheel - and still gets the picture - well you can stop reading. Go swat flies with it. The rest of us need more support than that. We need clamps and holders and tripods. We recognise the fact that nobody wants to see our pictures or videos if they are all shaky and blurry - even if it is art. We need stability. Enter everyone who makes tripods. Big ones, little ones, plastic ones, metal ones - even wooden ones occasionally. The legs go out and the legs go in and the locking mechanisms break and the quick release plates get lost and the cycle of retail goes on turning. And every now and then someone comes up with something new. The Joby people did when they started marketing their Gorilla series of camera supports. Initially meant for the dear little compact cameras, they were three flexible legs and a small screw-mount. They were intended to wrap around a pile, chair leg, tree branch, or what have you to let the camera stay still long enough for a shot. The good news for the customers was they worked and the good news for the retailers was they sold. Buoyed by success with the little ones, Joby started making bigger ones, and putting bigger camera holders on the top end. They also started butting magnetic feet on the bottom for some models. You could attach your camera to the refrigerator door for family party selfies. ( Not every new idea has contributed to the advance of your selfies...). The bendy legs got bigger and longer and were so well-made that they got stronger as well, Heavier objects could be screwed onto the top section and eventually Joby made their own version of a medium-sized ball head. That's the red-ball one in the picture. They were also available with black balls as a separate head - I bought one for the top of a conventional tripod...and after 5 years of use in my home studio I can say it is the best medium stills head I own. It only has to support a small Fujifilm X-T10, but it does so superbly. Well, that's what attracted me to the Joby stills tripod in Murray Street - the red-ball head is the same as I use. The legs are wildly strong, and if you needed them to do conventional support, they would do so perfectly - but with the Joby option of wrapping around anything to give stability in the field. I suspect this would be the perfect in-the-car tripod for the travelling photographer who sees something, leaps from the vehicle, and needs to shoot straight away. The real nailer on the Murray Street tripod stand was the Joby video rig. I'm starting to be more sensitive to what can be used fro video now that I'm doing it, and this is the logical companion for the stills rig. That's a standard video quick-release plate you see in the top of the head, and the there's separately-adjustable drag controls for the pan and tilt. I was intrigued to see that the control handle can be folded and locked and that it has a holder for a control box. m The essence of stability combined with free motion is all very well, but you have to remember that when you start to pan away you need to be on a level plane. I've just found that with my first films when I followed a dancer and saw her slide off the level by about 30º. It was art, but not the controlled sort...Level up before you move. Okay - wrap up - a good company making good products with unique uses. You might find knock-offs and copies, but don't bother. Joby delivers the goods.