Review: Getting to grips with the Joby Action Grip and Pole
Action cameras don't have to be mounted to the chest of a sky-diver, the back of a dog, or the helmet of someone mowing the lawn to shoot interesting footage. The new Joby Action Grip and Pole are action-oriented accessories designed to help users shoot from different perspectives while retaining hand-held control over their camera. Gizmag recently spent a bit of time with the kit ahead of its release.
The Action Grip and Pole is a new set-up from Joby, of Gorillapod fame, which is built around a floating hand-grip. On its own, the grip allows users to film selfie, point-of-view, or follow cam footage without fear of watching their expensive actioncam sink to the bottom of the ocean. But when combined with the Action Pole, it also allows for filming from different perspectives and angles.
The grip itself is a lightweight plastic affair which shares its black and red styling with Joby's other Action Mounts and Gorillapods. A chunky ribbed grip makes it easy to hold, and a tether at the bottom means you're not going to lose it, even if you accidentally let go.
In our time with the Action Grip, we found it comfortable to hold and using a grip like this is always going to be preferable to trying to hold a little GoPro in your hands, whether on land or in water. In the water its light-weight nature was a bonus, its buoyancy meant our camera didn't sink, and the red base made the floating camera easy to spot as it bobbed around in a reservoir among rowers and wind-surfers. Not needing a Floaty Backdoor on our GoPro Hero4 Silver also had the added bonus that we could still see the screen while using it.
Joby says the 90 g (3.2 oz) Action Grip should be able to keep most actioncams afloat. However, while it kept our GoPro bobbing happily, we don't know what other cameras it will prevent from sinking. While this handle buoyancy is nothing new in itself, as the likes of the GoPole Bobber and the GoPro Handler also offer this, an interesting feature of the new grip is that it forms part of a system and can be used in conjunction with the Joby Action Pole.
By unscrewing the base and connected tether of the Action Grip, the 20 cm (8.1 in) long grip can then be attached to the modular 46 cm (18 in) aluminum extension tube, with the base/tether then screwed into the bottom of that. This is intended to give users more freedom of movement with their action camera, and allows shooting in a wider variety of angles. The extra length also makes it easier to get your full body into the shot. And if you want a really wide shot, multiple poles can be attached together, and feature a standard painter's pole threading.
While we found using the Action Grip on its own very natural, the added unwieldiness of the longer and 200 g (7 oz) pole did make it more difficult for us to control. However, this probably says more about our inherent wobblyness on a scooter than it does about the pole itself. We dare say more confident-footed users wouldn't have a problem manipulating the pole while pulling tricks on their skateboard, and that they'd find it easier to capture interesting footage from the additional angles it allows.
There are plenty of accessories out there vying for a place on your action camera, but the Joby Action Grip and Pole feel like they will make an impact in the crowded market. It offers the same functionality as other water-safe floating grips, but with the added bonus of being able to shoot from different perspectives when attached to the pole section.
The Joby Action Grip and Pole are available now. The Action Grip will retail for US$25 on its own, or $35 bundled with the extension pole in the Action Grip and Pole set.