The Joby Gorillapod isn't new, but it's now available in multiple
sizes, including one that will handle an SLR with zoom lens, up to 6.6 lbs.
In the same spirit of alternate support systems, Bogen has three Pods--rigid
pads with camera mounts to support SLR or compact cameras on odd locations like
rocks, the ground, or the hood of your car.
A tripod is only as good as the head that sits on top of it. Arguments over
which type of head approach the Mac vs. Windows level of fervor at times, with
ball head fans swearing that three-way panning heads can't touch them,
and the reverse. Well, you've got plenty of choices no matter which way
you go, but ball heads are clearly gaining in popularity with many more new
options on display.
Novoflex gets the award for the most innovative and cool-looking designs.
Even more impressively, they work every bit as good as they look. The MagicBall
takes the standard ball head and turns it upside down, with a fixed ball and
moving mount; its handle has won praise from most everyone who has used it.
In the new arena though, a couple of more traditional ball heads--the Ball
30 and Ball 40. The operation on these is extremely smooth with a nice, positive
lock and support up to 22 lbs.
Although they had plenty of mounting plates, macro rails, panoramic attachments,
and other goodies, I really liked their Survival Kit. Everything you need in
a small zippered case--mini ball head, mini pod, and clamps. You can set
up on your car, table, or whatever happens to be handy, and now there's
no reason not to have something along with you to stabilize your camera--no
more blurry shots.
Giottos has improved their ball heads with the new MH 1300 series. Panning
and locking is smooth with good locking and bubble levels that are actually
easy to see even with the camera mounted.
And, just so the panning head fans don't feel left out, Manfrotto offers
a unit that is more compact than most panning heads I've used but still
has a substantial feel and good control. It includes the Manfrotto quick-release
plate setup for positive locking, as well as bubble levels and degree markings
to help with positioning.
Finally, the Induro line-up has some excellent ball and panning heads to choose
from. Although they have their own
quick-release system, I tried mounting my camera with an Arca-Swiss style mounting
plate and found the system worked well--your mileage may vary. Of all the
products I looked at, the Induro line impressed me the most for quality and
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