Announced earlier this month and shipping soon, Joby has updated their line of GorillaPod tripods with new designs. Replacing the previous GorillaPod Focus and Ballhead X, I got the chance to take an advanced look at the new GorillaPod 5K Kit which can support full-frame DSLR cameras with pro lenses.
As the name implies, the 5K Kit comprises of two products, the GorillaPod 5K Stand and the BallHead 5K. The GorillaPod 5K Stand features the flexible ball and socket leg joints with rubber grip rings that we’ve come to know over the past 10 years. It’s made of machined aluminum, ABS plastic, stainless steel, and TPE, and can hold gear weighing up to 11 pounds. At the top base, there’s a standard 1/4"–20 mount for securing ballheads or other equipment. This base plate is also rubberized for less chance of slipping or loosening from mounted gear.
The other product included with the 5K Kit is the BallHead 5K. This is a full 360-degree panning head with a 90-degree slot for vertical framing. The weight capacity is 11 pounds and is made of machined aluminum, stainless steel, ABS plastic, TPE, and rubber. It uses the standard 1/4"–20 mount to be placed on any tripod. The quick release accepts the widely adopted Area Swiss plates (one is also included) for mounting cameras. There are two separate locking adjustment knobs, one controlling the ballhead angle and one for the panning position. For panning, the base of the BallHead 5K features a numbered scale for faster, more precise movements while capturing panoramas.
Together, the GorillaPod 5K Kit weighs 1.6 pounds and has a black, charcoal, and red finish. The official product description says the 5K Kit is a 15.2 inches tall, however my unit is more like 14 inches from the bottom tripod foot to the top of the BallHead 5K plate. Overall, the 5K Kit looks like a fitting piece of gear worthy of being seen with the pro-level gear that it can be used with. The matte black and anodized red on the BallHead 5K are particularly nice touches.
All the knobs have a grippy, soft touch to the rubber and combined with the smooth adjustments, it feels like a premium product. Nothing feels loose, shaky, or cheaply made. And nor should it; The GorillaPod 5K Kit has a MSRP of $179.95. In my opinion, the price fits the purpose though. I’m not sure I would have the same level of confidence in mounting thousands of dollars worth of heavy, professional camera equipment on a tripod similar to this that cost half the price then expecting it to grip onto pretty much any surface hands-free.
On the topic of gripping to any surface, I have to say I’m impressed. Even though GorillaPods were first introduced in 2006, I’m a late-comer and I’ve only had hands-on experience with them this year starting with the GripTight PRO Video GP kit. So obviously the first thing I did when I took the GorillaPod 5K Kit out of the box was find a vertical pole to attach it to. Sure enough, it held like magic with a Sony a99 II and 24–70mm f/2.8 II ($5,300 worth of precious gear) mounted.
From then on, the transition to using the GorillaPod continued as I started to realize how its versatile design was way more useful than I imagined. Before, I would assume a small tripod barely over a foot tall wouldn’t ever be dependable because what if I was in a location that doesn’t have anything to mount it to. What I’ve come to realize is that this scenario happens far less than I thought it would. Yes, the trade-off with the GorillaPod versus a full-sized tripod is precise positioning; I can’t mount my camera five feet away from a fence, but I can mount it on the fence itself. Sometimes that might mean a less “perfect” composition, but honestly sometimes it benefits the composition in ways you didn’t realize when mounting to a fence wasn’t an option, such as introducing great sweeping leading lines to an image.
Let’s not forget that the GorillaPod has more options than just gripping to things though. It works perfectly well as a standalone, traditional-style tripod where it can be set up for low angles on the ground or placed on tables, rocks, or whatever else for higher angles. The BallHead 5K really comes in handy for this because you don’t have to get the mounting base perfectly level (unless you intend on doing panoramic shooting). Just get the GorillaPod legs stable, then adjust the ballhead to get the camera perfectly level. The 5K Kit does not have a built-in bubble level, but most cameras sold these days will have a gyroscopic feature in-camera that does the same thing.
The other option is to just hold the GorillaPod itself with one hand while you are shooting. If you’re interested in vlog-style videos where you need to walk and talk with a camera facing you, this is a good way to achieve more reach away from your body for more comfortable framing. Again, the BallHead 5K helps here because you can stretch the GorillaPod further out and then rely on the angle-set ballhead to bring up the camera so it’s level.
More and more I’ve just been going out with the GorillaPod 5K Kit and leaving my full-sized tripod at home. In turn this also means I don’t have to carry my larger camera bag that has proper tripod carrying support and I can just throw the GorillaPod pretty much anywhere in a smaller bag. Each absolutely has their own purpose, but I’m discovering that many times where I thought I needed to bring the bigger tripod were actually in situations where the GorillaPod would suffice.
What I Liked
- The versatility in where and what you can use it for.
- Its compactness and is relatively lightweight for being able to support 11 pounds.
- The materials and build quality feels solid and reliable.
What Could Be Improved
- I know I touched on price earlier saying it matches its purpose, but I won’t pretend that $179.95 isn’t a decent amount of change for most people regardless of what you get in return.
- The legs of the tripod can take a little extra time to get positioned exactly how you want them because of their stiffness. However, would you really want them to be any looser and less grabby?
- There’s only one color option, and black and red isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
The new GorillaPod products will be available beginning next month in October, and you can signup to be alerted of exactly when that will be on the Joby website. The 5K Kit has a MSRP of $179.95. Separately, the GorillaPod 5K has a MSRP of $119.95 and the BallHead 5K has a MSRP of $69.95.