Gorillapod SLR-zoom or something else for travel?
If you're wanting to mount a camera + lens that's 2kg or less, you might want to consider something like the Sirui T-025 (0.8kg all up WITH ballhead, about $160 list). Incredibly small, a little wimpy but OK for occasional travel use (hang your daypack from its hook). The only problem with it is it's only 48" tall with the center column extended and 55" tall with it extended, so you might have to stoop over to shoot with it...but it gets you off the floor and folds down to a 12" long package that fits about anywhere. I wouldn't go putting a big DSLR body on it, but something like a u4/3 kit or a small-body DSLR with a short kit zoom should work just fine.
Also note that in many church and other venues, you can't use a tripod. Screws up traffic patterns and trips up other tourists, as well as diverts some of their cash flow away from the photos in their gift shop.
I've traveled a lot with an Ultrapod to allow the occasional strapping to a stanchion...I've NEVER used it. There have been more opportunities for a mono or tripod, but even then I've just kicked up the ISO and s l o w l y let out my breath before s q u e e z i n g the shutter and it's worked out OK. Think hard before carrying a tripod with you on your travels. Unless you're there specifically for high-quality photography, it's more a nuisance than a necessity.
thanks for the reply! The height issue, while may be a problem if I'm in the middle of nowhere, I was thinking that with the gorillapod I could place it on the edge of a fountain, on any railings along the sidewalk, flat on a table... while it would probably be difficult to do so with a regular tripod. I'm really sold by the idea of the gorillapod (it's a few years old i know) but I want to make sure I'm in reality and not missing some major flaws of the product. Or maybe I'm just dreaming/imagining its pros too much.
I don't think the Ultrapod is versatile enough (just did a google search), but the T-025 and the T1205X (someone actually posted about these 2 on dpreview earlier) does seem very interesting. I do shoot with dslr and not 4/3 though..
You're very right that most times, kicking up the ISO, holding the breath and hope for the best is probably the option I'll opt for most of the time. But I do enjoy a few long exposure shots of architecture and landscapes once in a while so I thought I'd get something I could easily whip out from my backpack, plant it on some surface and take the photo. I do want to take some nice photos but I'm not there only to take photos and hence I'm looking for something light and simple (hence gorillapod, with no fidgety height adjustments, no leg extension, but with flexibility to place on uneven surface and level it quickly, seem such a good option).
Also appreciate your mention about no tripods at churches!
The gorillapod is a good choice, as long as you get the DSLR zoom version of it, and keep the loading light. It's about as big as that Sirui when packed, but you can bend it around to fit in a corner of your pack. Otherwise, I find it irritating for most tripod use. As a clamp, it has no peer, but the camera can have a tendency to creep in odd positionings.
Another possibility you might want to explore is to just get yourself a velcro or camlock luggage strap that would allow you to lash a conventional tripod to a convenient post or railing, then use the ballhead adjustment to position the camera as needed. That way, you can get stand-alone support for most of your needs, and you can always keep the legs fully collapsed for tabletop work. Remember that the Sirui's minimum height is only 10" - very close to what the Gorillapod can do. Admittedly, the Gorillapod is more direct and more flexible for stanchion mounting.
This is just my bias. I found in similar situations to yours that I would have been better served by a conventional design small tripod with some shooting height than a stanchion grip.
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