Cheap flexible tripod (Gorillapod alternatives)
I was looking for a small, flexible tripod for my DSLR, a Pentax K-x. I wanted it for travel and also something that could be used for macro work. The camera and macro lens together weigh about ~1Kg = 2lbs, so I wanted something rated for at least double that. I also planned to attach a small ball head (a Giottos MH 1004 I had for ~$10), since you really need one to make adjustments.
The obvious choice was the Joby GP3 Gorillapod SLR-Zoom rated for 3Kg = 6.6lbs. It looked great, but the tripod alone is about $50, and if you get it with the small ballhead, it's about $75. For as little as I figure I would use it, that was more than I wanted to spend.
I first got a Bower Flexible Grey Bendipod ST107 for about $25. At the time, the Amazon description said it supported 5lbs. When the package came, however, it said 2.2lbs. (The Amazon description has since been corrected.) While the tripod looked sturdy and even came with a ball head and release plate, it was not nearly strong enough to hold my 2lbs of camera. I sent it back.
I next went looking on ebay for a Gorillapod knockoff. There are lots of them, and the descriptions vary greatly and are quite inconsistent. I ended up taking a chance on one labeled as a "Large Flexible Tripod for DV SLR Room [sic] Camera." The dimensions were similar to the Gorillapod SLR Zoom (250mm tall), and it claimed to support 3kg=6.6lbs. Price with shipping was $10, so I figured that was worth the risk.
I am pleased to report that it does a fine job! I don't know that I would try 6.6lbs on it, but I think it's at least as capable as the Giotto ball head rated for 5lbs. As you can see in the pics below, it's able to manage being fully twisted around. It can function as a minitripod, and it's tall enough to do very well for macro work. You might need to play around with the positioning of the legs a bit to make it stable, but it does the job.
So for about $20, I'm in business with a lightweight travel, tabletop, and macro tripod. I've been using it a bit for a couple months, and so far it's held up well. I'll save 5 stars for the Gorillapods, but this is worth 4.5 stars to me.