Now that smartphones are good enough for serious video production, accessory makers are rushing to re-define camera support technology. One of those companies jumping into the fray is Joby, a Vitec Group member who just introduced the GripTight Pro Telepod, a very lightweight pro-level tripod for smartphones and tiny GoPro-style cameras.
Users shopping accessories to support Apple’s iPhone and GoPro cameras can easily find a glut of very low cost, no-name tripods that sound good on paper but are so poorly made that many will barely stand up without a camera — much less with one. This makes it difficult to make a good purchase via mail order.
Joby, who is known for its twistable camera mounts and tripods, just introduced the GripTight Pro TelePod ($99), a more expensive model that is well-designed for serious use. Joby sent us one to review, and though it’s not perfect, it comes closer than anything else we have used. Add one generic piece from a lower-cost tripod kit and it becomes one of the best units available.
I tried using the GripTight Pro TelePod with an iPhone X as an ultra lightweight professional tripod for shooting interviews. Several requirements were important to me. I wanted the tripod to weigh little, yet be stable. I wanted it to be collapsable and durable. And I wanted it to fit inside a small camera bag.
The Joby kit weighs 12.7 ounces and is 2.76 x 2.76 x 13.39-inches long. It features Joby’s very well-designed GripTight mount (the best mount since the Reticam Smartphone Tripod Mount with XL conversion kit or the Beastgrip Universal adapter.) So it met my weight and size requirements.
The kit’s tripod can be extended to lengths up to 31-inches and is made from fiberglass-reinforced nylon plus stainless steel. The tripod's legs have three positions and a maximum flattened leg span of 14-inches. That’s both good news and bad news.
The tripod is a bit short for shooting interviews. But the good news is its modularity. Any retractable extension can be attached using a ¼”-20 connection thread, which is pretty much standard for this category of equipment.
I used a collapsable extension made by Smartree which extends to 41 inches. I bought a whole kit on Amazon for about $20. Coupled with the higher quality Joby base and camera adapter, it makes an elegant, very light package with plenty of height for interviews. Of course, with gear this weight, it is easy to have shake when shooting. But the Joby is rated at handling gear weighing up to 2.2 pounds.
One thing that adds to the stability is the wide width of the base. The three adjustable legs click-set into three positions for stability on uneven surfaces. They also flatten to a maximum of 14 inches in diameter, which adds stability. The wide base is one of the best parts of Joby’s design and it exceeds units costing multiple times more.
Shipping with the Joby TelePod is a hand grip, an extended grip and a Pin Joint mount for GoPro cameras. It has both elevated and tabletop tripod modes. A removable Bluetooth Impulse Remote Shutter enables users to capture shots remotely and worked quite reliably for still images.
We have entered the era of complete 4K video shooting kits that can be carried in a single shoulder bag with lighting, audio and support gear. This is a minor miracle to those of us who began by lugging around huge, heavy cases of video production gear. As materials improve, I suspect we are at the beginning of revolution in camera support for small, personal cameras.
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