Joby Gorillapod Micro 800

Mon 2011.12.19
by brian hefele

This review is part of my photo reference set on Flickr. Clicking the photo above will take you to the photo page on Flickr, with additional notes on the photo itself.

I like to travel light, which often means carrying a light camera like my Leitz-Minolta CL. It also means I rarely carry a tripod, which leads to plenty of setting-the-camera-down-and-hoping-for-the-best during 30 second nighttime exposures. For such things, all the stability available to me is helpful, which does not come easy with a lightweight camera. In an effort to add stability, I recently purchased and semi-permanently attached the new Joby Gorillapod Micro 800 to my CL.

Joby makes two Gorillapod Micros — the 250 and the 800, each named after how many grams it can support. I’m not sure why they decided to brand these as Gorillapods, bearing no resemblance to the rest of the bendy, grabby family. The basic idea behind the Micros is that you get convenient fan-open-and-shut operation, and a ball-head with 36º of rotation which allows the shut legs to sit flush with the base of the camera. When shut, the legs barely stick out, but the ball joint does give the base of the camera a curious bump. This also means if you’re generally leaving the tripod on, forget standing it up without first unfolding the legs. While this is not really an issue in and of itself (unfolding is very quick), care must be then be taken to level the camera on the ballhead.

Operation and basic functionality are great. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for fit-and-finish and overall construction. Rather than a thumbscrew, the 800 is tightened to the camera base through use of a coin-sized slot. While this works well for some things, a coin really does not provide enough leverage to properly tighten the tripod — no matter how much I cranked down with a coin, I couldn’t get it tight to the point where trying to rotate the camera on the ball wouldn’t loosen it right off. So, I used a churchkey for extra leverage, and promptly scratched/scraped the paint off of the bottom. I don’t really mind, but the paint on the ‘pod is clearly not that tough. This thing will age quickly.

Additionally, and most concerning, there is just way too much play in the ball head for comfort. Adjusting means wiggling it to the point where it starts mocing on the ball, adjusting, and then letting it settle off the ball again. This gets frustrating quickly, and while long exposures are still easier than with nothing, stability is certainly compromised, and I must be very careful with my cable release.

Overall, the Gorillapod Micro 800 is a pretty handy piece of kit that folds flat and small, and compliments my Leitz-Minolta CL with its tiny collapsible pancake lens perfectly. Very little additional bulk, with plenty of additional utility. If Joby just got the construction quality a little bit better, this little tripod would be an essential piece of gear rather than just a handy trinket.