Product Review: GorillaPod Focus & Ballhead X

Image of GorillaPod Focus and Ballhead X by Joby.

It’s short and stocky, it’s strong, it’s adaptable, and it’s flexible. It can hang on poles, fences, tree branches, railings, and sign posts. It can stand upright, sit down low, or twist and bend and turn. Yes, it’s ape like, and it’s called the GorillaPod Focus tripod by Joby.

Since 2006, Joby has manufactured and distributed its innovation series of GorillaPod tripods, but now they have met the needs of photographers with heavier DSLR cameras and lenses. The GorillaPod Focus with accompanying Ballhead X can support up to 11 pounds of equipment.
GorillaPod Tripod

The tripod stands 11.4 inches high, with an additional Ballhead X height of 3.3 inches, so of course it’s not tall enough to replace your full-sized tripod, but that’s not why you’ll want to own one.

You’re actually going to gain height over your regular tripod by wrapping the flexible legs around objects high off the ground. And if you don’t want to spend the time manipulating your standard tripod into a low position, just grab the GorillaPod Focus, quickly pull the legs up and get your camera 5” off the ground – great for those low to the ground macro shots.

It can also be very useful when hiking into rocky terrain. Just manipulate the legs in and around the rocks or other uneven surfaces.

It’s a sturdy tripod that’s built well – Joby cut no corners here.

Its legs are made of machined-aluminum sockets with rubberized rings around each socket and rubberized feet, so they can grab and add stability when attaching it to various objects. Now it may take a little time to bend and manipulate the legs, due to sockets that are somewhat laborious to move, but that’s a good thing.

Be patient, because you’ll want to take all the time needed to make any necessary adjustments so you know it’s secure before you let go of your tripod and camera – you certainly don’t want blurry images if it slides or watch your camera falling to the ground.

Once you’re done photographing, it can be a bit of challenge to get all 3 legs aligned straight again, so just enjoy its attributes and work on that when you get home.

Note: To avoid any slight movement of the camera, I would suggest using a remote shutter release when making your images.

With its legs folded in, it’s compact and very portable. Just strap it to your camera bag or belt. Here in Florida, it’s great to take along when you’re walking the beach for miles and miles, as the combined weight of the Focus and Ballhead X is less than 2 pounds.


Image of Ballhead X by Joby.

Image provided by Joby, Inc.

Ballhead X

Now you can certainly use the tripod without a ball head, but you will lose a lot of flexibility. You may only have a couple of options when wrapping the legs around an object, so the tripod’s mounting plate could end up pointing in the wrong direction. Screw on any professional ball head and have the ease of adjusting the camera’s angle.

Joby’s Ballhead X is a nice little addition to the Focus. You attach your camera to the rubberized quick release X-shaped mounting plate, by just flipping up the metal tab attached to the screw, screw it in and press it back down. You’re now ready to attach or release it from the ball head.

It is constructed of aluminum so it is very light weight, coming in at 9.3 ounces, yet it’s quite sturdy with easy to use rubberized adjustment knobs that allow you to pan 360° and tilt +/-90°. As with any ball head, just be sure the knobs are fully tightened or the weight of your camera is going move from the intended point of focus, especially if it’s in unusual positions.

In the Field
This is a fun, easy to tote and functional little tripod, so you might be inclined to go on a GorillaPod Focus and Ballhead X adventure.

The weight of the camera did cause the quick release plate screw to loosen from the camera on occasion, which is a bit of a pain, but just remove the quick release plate and tighten down the screw and you’re on your way.

Look around for your photo subject and then see what you can wrap the tripods legs around to make some interesting images. It also makes a great car window camera mount. The possibilities go on and on and on….

Image of Joby GorillaPod Focus and Ballhead X attached to sign post at lake during sunset by Marla Meier.

Are you out walking about, but don’t
want to take your full-sized tripod?

Image of Joby GorillaPod Focus and Ballhead X attached to tree by Marla Meier.

Take the GorillaPod – you’re bound to
find an object to which it can be attached.

Image of Joby GorillaPod Focus and Ballhead X attached to light pole at St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida by Marla Meier.

Take your time. Make sure the GorillaPod is secure before you let go.
Backdrop: St. Johns River and downtown Jacksonville, Florida

Image of Joby GorillaPod Focus and Ballhead X attached to railing around Friendship Fountain in Jacksonville, Florida by Marla Meier.

The railing around Friendship Fountain
in St. Johns River Park is a great place
to get up close to the action.

Image of Joby GorillaPod Focus and Ballhead X attached to guardrail going to the Main Street Bridge in Jacksonville, Florida by Marla Meier.

Here it’s attached to the guardrail
to get a view through the trusses of the Main Street Bridge.

Image of Joby GorillaPod Focus and Ballhead X attached to the "Treaty Oak" tree at Jesse Ball duPont Park in Jacksonville, Florida by Marla Meier.

250 year old “Treaty Oak”
Jesse Ball duPont ParkJacksonville, Florida

Image of Joby GorillaPod Focus and Ballhead X attached to lifeguard chair at Jacksonville Beach by Marla Meier.

Wrap those legs around a lifeguard
chair and make images at sunset.
Jacksonville Beach, Jacksonville Florida

Image of Joby GorillaPod Focus and Ballhead X placed on beach at Jacksonville Beach by Marla Meier.
With its light weight and ball feet, it
barely sinks into the sand, so you can get
up close and intimate with your subject.

In Conclusion

Every photographer, whether professional or amateur, wants and needs a tripod and ball head that has both versatility and stability and this is one mini tripod set that stands out in front of, or should I say wraps around, all the others. Why? Because it is flexible and sturdy, easily portable and can hold the weight of a professional camera! It may have a couple of quirks, but your creative mind can take it to places where no other tripod can go.

Be sure to add the GorillaPod Focus and Ballhead X to your wish list for Santa and be sure to put it at the top of the list.

Visit their website to see all the various GorillaPods and Joby products

by Marla Meier, APM Editor
Review and color photos: © 2012 Marla Meier. All Rights Reserved.

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All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

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