Tripod Tag

It might seem difficult to report anything new about the Joby Gorilla Pod these days - after all the original little Gorilla Pods have been in the shop long enough to register on the inventory of the British Museum.* Well, that is because they actually work. They are a silly little answer to a serious little question for the travelling photographer.  The fact that they have contributed to the Selfie Plague on Facebook and Instagram is neither here nor there. If we must have selfies, at least we deserve sharp ones. This, Gorilla Pods will do. The 3K kit was new on the storeroom shelves when I swanned through this week. The legs are no new thing - Gorilla Pod ABS plastic sockets that wrap around solid objects and rubberised feet at the end to act as a small tripod. You can exercise your ingenuity with this sort of thing when you need to support a camera or an off-camera flash. You'll never get the legs as straight as they come out of the packet ever again, but that is not a...

And who doesn't like large prospects? Well, if you've decided to be a bit more ambitious with your camera choice - and hoist medium-sized lenses - you'll want to advance  from yesterday - so today you get the Manfrotto Compact Advanced tripod. Bigger, longer legs - a heftier ball head - and the classic Manfrotto quick release mechanism for your camera. Still the same plastic leg clips and yoke, but bigger. One extra leg segment. A separate panning lock and action. And the Manfrotto quick mount plate - possibly the most common feature of many of their tripods. It has a positive locking mechanism to prevent inadvertent opening And enogh of a foot to cope with anything up to a medium DSLR. The tripod is still light enough to haul out on a hike or around a city centre. It is small enough to leave in the boot of your car in its bag all the time when you're motoring. If nothing else, you can enliven a long country trip by setting it up at a layby and pretending to be a Multinova. Just...

We sold Manfrotto joystick heads - both the 322 lay-down and the 222 upright - for as long as I worked behind the counter and it looks as though there is still a call for them - fresh stock in the storeroom. I was always interested to see who bought them, and to ask why they chose the design. Some of the answers were surprising. Many wanted them for action shooting - thinking to follow some moving object and then freeze the head at the moment of release. I could never actually see this working - I always envisaged someone tracking a bird or animal with a pan and tilt head or a gimbal and then shooting on the move as they were able to lock on the track. But perhaps some subjects move, then freeze briefly and this is the interval when the joystick head locks. I was a little more convinced when I met someone who did not have the chance to use two hands to position the camera. The fact that the 322 joystick can be configured to a right,...

A great deal of photographic equipment is novel - at least it is the first time you see it. And some items are frivolous - mere mechanical bagatelles. Not so today's featured device. The box said Manfrotto 405 New Geared Head. I'm glad it was on a low shelf because I would not have liked to lift it down - it was a heavy box. The camera head inside turns out to be the closest thing to a naval cannon mount that you can buy commercially...

I was a little taken aback when I saw the label for the Manfrotto 410* - it says " Junior Geared Head ". But it is actually quite large. I would say that this device would be capable of managing nearly all modern cameras. Certainly the specifications say it'll hold 5 Kg. But 5 Kg of what? What photographic equipment needs a geared tripod head - and when should you employ it? Well, the first thought that came to mind was the Little Studio studio stand - normally sporting a large Gitzo pan and tilt head, it was perfect for this one as well. the gearing is quite slow and means that you are not fighting to tap the camera assembly into a horizontal position - you can just wind it slowly into registry. Thank goodness the Fujifilm cameras all seem to have a green artificial horizon line that comes on as this happens. If you need to get close enough quickly the larger flanges seen on the control wheels are release mechanisms - twist them and the whole thing becomes loose -...

Ever since I started to do studio photography I gained new respect for the chaps who put up scaffolding and hoardings on building sites. You see their structures all the time but you don't stop to think of how complex they are until you start to try to bolt together a set of camera or light supports. More often than not in the Little Studio the parts used are made by Manfrotto. This blithely named product - the MS050M4-Q2 - is just such a component - but rather than holding lights or backdrop rolls, it's a camera support...