03 February 2007

The perfect gadget

Just over a month ago, I said that I would talk about a couple of Christmas presents from my partner Jan, who always hits the sweet spot. Doesn't time fly...

This is the first one; the send is in the next post.

For most of my photographic work I use an SLR (a set of Pentax K series mechanical film bodies or a pair of istD digitals). There's an old saying amongst old photographers (of which, I am amused to discover, I seem to have become one) that if a tripod is light enough to carry then it's not sturdy enough to do its job. There's some truth in that ... but, we still need tripods so a search for compromise always continues. I have five tripods, from a huge wood and brass monster (which could survive the end of the world but needs a Landrover to transport it) to a 300mm high midget which needs to be placed on a wall or other platform for use. There are also a dozen different clamps and other supports, plus three different weights of monopod.

But as a constant vade mecum (going to meetings, or in a lecture room, or carrying four carrier bags out of the supermarket, even I don't always have an SLR along) I have a tiny five megapixel pocket digital smaller than a pack of cigarettes. To carry a tripod, or even a G clamp, rather undermines the point of such a small camera.

Enter the Gorillapod. It comes in several different sizes, but the smallest and lightest (designed for exactly the sort of tiny pocket digital in question) weighs 275g and fits (literally) in a pocket. In the past month, it has become as much a permanent companion as the camera.

It flexes to sit on irregular surfaces. It firmly grips a pole or chair leg. It's not, and doesn't pretend to be, a rock solid gunnery platform; but it does damp vibration, is always on hand and, used sensibly, allows exposures of sixty or ninety seconds without trouble.

The perfect ever ready gadget.

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