Barber Tech SteddiePod  and Joby Gorillapod Ballhead X  Reviewed

By far, one of the biggest giveaways of amateur video is shaky footage. When the visual images shake, an audience can quickly realize that they are watching footage captured by a person or crew rather than feeling that their eyes are the same as the cameras. Since no one wants their footage looking like it was shot by a squirrel that had one too many shots of espresso, making footage from a camera appear stable is a goal that many cinematographers spend a lot of time and money to achieve. Thankfully, with both the Barber Tech SteddiePod and the Joby Gorillapod and Ballhead X, video enthusiasts the world over can now afford to make professional, steady shots a reality.

View the sample video here

A None-Too-Delicate Design

Nothing says cheap like low quality materials in a product design. Picking up a piece of gear for the first time and hearing it creak, rattle, or break can make for one of life’s most bitter disappointments. Thankfully, both the SteddiePod and Gorillapod Focus paired with the Ballhead X put this unnerving idea to rest as both products’ bodies are made of high quality, machined aluminum. Due to the light-weight properties of aluminum, both products also came in an easy-to-handle 5 pounds for the SteddiePod, and a little over 9 ounces with the Gorillapod, allowing for many hours of use while still being sturdy enough to handle a great deal of wear and tear.

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Of course, no stabilizer or tripod system is complete without an adjustable mount to top it off. While the Gorillapod comes with a convenient adjustable locking mount, the SteddiePod has an option for a surprisingly nimble fluid head. The fluid head also comes with a quick release plate and a useful collapsible wing nut which allowed us to quickly attach our Canon 7D and then Sony FX1 cameras right at the top of the unit. The SteddiePod also had a much needed bulls-eye style bubble level which helped us to know when the unit was level at all times. As an added bonus, the SteddiePod’s fluid head also had the ability to rotate 90-degrees that allowed for dutch or canted angles to complement our movements.

Though the Gorillapod understandably did not have the advantages that the fluid head of the SteddiePod had, it did have a very sturdy locking ball mount head that was made of machined aluminum. Much like the SteddiePod, the head of the Gorillapod was able to tilt 90-degrees which allowed for dutch angles, and had a quick release plate for fast setups and teardowns. However, what the Gorillapod lacked in mounting options, it made up for in rigidness, as we were surprised to find that the arm segments of the Gorillapod were gripped so tightly together that it took considerable effort to bend them into a desired shape.

Overall, the designs of both the SteddiePod and Gorillapod made it hard not to be astonished that in an age of quick manufacturing and small profits, there are still companies in which quality comes first.

Readying Them for Action

After taking the Gorillapod out of the box, it was apparent that with this product, what you see is definitely what you got. The Gorillapod box contained only the Gorillapod and one sheet of directions detailing how to put the head on the base plate. However, the SteddiePod was an even quicker setup as the box came with the unit completely assembled and a small brochure showing users the different ways they could use the product.

Since the Gorillapod was meant to be used like a tripod, we simply had to attach our Canon 7D to the quick release plate of the unit using its convenient collapsible wing nut in order to make it ready for shooting. Conversely, the SteddiePod required a quick balancing first. In order to do so, we took each of the three legs of the SteddiePod and made sure that they were pointing out 90 degrees from the base. Then, we tightened each leg against the unit by turning the leg itself, which was in reality a threaded bolt, until it felt snug. At this point we took our Canon 7D and attached it to the fluid head and held the unit by its swivel handle. Lastly, we moved the swivel handle up and down the body of the unit until the SteddiePod balanced perfectly in our hands and locked the swivel handle down. After this surprisingly simple process, we were able to begin putting both units through their paces.


The Balance Act

There’s nothing more exciting than having something work right the first time. So when the SteddiePod and Gorillapod worked flawlessly right out of the box, we were more than thrilled with the result.

The first test we did was with the Gorillapod. After wrapping the stiff arms of the unit around a light post outside Videomaker’s headquarters, we decided to attach our 4-pound Sony FX1 camera to it to see how it would hold up. We really didn’t feel like sweeping a three thousand dollar trash heap off the cement so to our surprise and delight, it held with complete ease and looked sturdy enough to hold more than just the camera.

As for the SteddiePod, we were also initially skeptical about its ability to show little to no shake in our footage – especially under the operation of an unskilled operator. Instead, after walking both up a hill and up some stairs, we found that the footage was not only usable – it was exceptional. The SteddiePod also exceeded our expectations as both a Doggy-cam and a tripod making it an incredibly useful product that, along with the Gorillapod, would benefit almost any production.

Tech Specs – Barber Tech SteddiePod

Maximum Height: 64.5″

Minimum Height: 30″

Weight: 5.18 lbs

Holds: Up to 6 lbs

Material: Aluminum

Strengths

  • Made of high quality machined aluminum
  • Easy to transport and setup
  • Affordable

Weaknesses

  • A slight learning curve

SUMMARY

With its simple setup and diverse functionality, the SteddiePod is a smart choice for on-the-go video enthusiasts who want to keep their load light while still being able to get the shots they need.

Barber Tech Video Products

2725 West Ave. L8

Lancaster, CA 93536

www.barbertvp.com

Price: $499

Tech Specs – Joby Gorillapod Ballhead X

Size: 2.68″ x 2.46″ x 3.27″

Weight: .58 lbs

Holds: Up to 11.1 lbs

Material: Machined Aluminum

Strengths

  • Made of high quality machined aluminum
  • Easy to transport and setup
  • Affordable

Weaknesses

  • Not enough room to pan when attached vertically to objects

SUMMARY

The Gorillapod is a handy tool that is both lightweight and light on the budget.

Joby

1000 Sansome, Suite 150

San Francisco, CA 94111

www.joby.com

Price: $170

Dan Bruns is an Associate Editor for Videomaker.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.