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Customer Review

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful, But You Can Reach Its Practical Limit, March 29, 2011
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This review is from: GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead X Bundle - Flexible Tripod & Ballhead for Professional Camera Rigs with Large Zoom Lenses (Electronics)
This review is for the Joby GP8-BHEN Gorillapod Focus with Ballhead X bundle.

I'm a serious amateur photographer who purchased this product as an alternative to carrying my much larger and heavier Gitzo GT3530LS carbon tripod with Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead. I mainly shoot landscapes, interiors, and macro; I intend to use this product for these same purposes when I travel and for awkward macro positions.

I haven't used the product yet for actual shoots, but I have conducted several experiments with it to get a feel for its effectiveness and limits. Here are my comments:

(1) Before purchasing, I considered buying only the Focus Gorillapod and using my Really Right Stuff ballhead. The BH-55 ballhead is fairly heavy, so the Ballhead X was tempting. It's not well documented, except for a parenthetical remark on Joby's website, but I was very pleased to learn that the Ballhead X is Arca-Swiss compatible! I was a little skeptical how well it would work, but I am very pleased to report that the Ballhead X holds strong on my Really Right Stuff L-bracket and lens plates. The Ballhead X is no match for my BH-55, but considering the price and size/weight, I'm quite pleased.

(2) I experimented with putting the Focus/Ballhead X in various positions, loaded with combinations of the equipment I'll most likely use with it: Nikon D700 (with L-bracket), Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro, Really Right Stuff flash bracket, and Nikon SB-900 flash. Everything held firm when the camera was either completely horizontal or just a little tilted; however, as the camera was bent down (as would be necessary for macro work), the limit of the Focus was apparent - the legs were insufficient to stop the camera from slowly bending over. This "bending over" could be mitigated if one of the Focus' legs was placed right under the lens. I didn't weigh the various combinations of equipment, but I am certain all combinations weighed less than the stated limit of 11.1 pounds (although I never expected for the Focus/Ballhead X to tolerate that full load). Despite the fact that it wasn't too difficult to load the Focus/Ballhead X beyond it's practical limit, I am quite pleased with how useful it is. I believe the practical limit will provide many useful shoots for my intended purposes.

(3) Although I don't intend to use the Focus/Ballhead X to "strap" my camera to poles/trees/etc., I thought I'd experiment a little with it. This time I used only my Nikon D700 and Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens - a MUCH lighter lens than those mentioned above. I tried strapping the rig to a tree branch about 3 inches in diameter and a handrail on my interior staircase. In both situations, the rig seemed to hold OK, but honestly, I'm not sure I'd trust it - I certainly wouldn't load it with more weight than I did.

Overall, the Joby Focus and Ballhead X seems to be a quality product that should provide many useful shooting opportunities, without the need to drag along much larger/clumsier equipment. Time will tell if the individual links on the Focus remain tight (if they loosen up, the product is basically useless).
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