If you want to live stream, vlog or participate in a video call from your smartphone, Joby has made this much easier with a collection of specialized tools developed for use with any smartphone. It starts with the new Joby PodZilla Medium Kit tripod, to which you can attach one or two Joby Beamo LED lights and an optional external microphone, such as the Joby Wavo. In this review of Joby’s modular PodZilla system, we’ll dive into how this setup can make your mobile vlogging life much easier while also improving your production quality.
Joby offers easy solutions for live streaming and vlogging (or participating in virtual meetings) … [+]
While these items are sold separately, together they comprise a versatile, powerful and easy to use live steaming or vlogging setup (that can also be used to participate in virtual meetings or video calls in conjunction with your smartphone). The tripod and lights can also be used with almost any action camera or handheld vlogging camera.
While these Joby products offer flexibility and can adapt to a wide range of shooting situations, there will certainly be times when an all-in-one vlogging camera (such as the Sony ZV-1) or an action camera (such as the GoPro HERO 10 Black) will be better suited to your needs (as opposed to using a smartphone).
Tripods for Phone, Camera & Tablet | JOBY
Joby’s PodZilla and Beamo Lights In A Nutshell
- Extremely lightweight and portable
- Quick setup
- Works with smartphones and action cameras
- Modular system lets you mix and match Joby products based on your needs
- You need to be mindful of the battery life of the Beamo lights
- Tricky to level the camera on the PodZilla
- Versatile, but doesn’t cover every shooting need
What Make Joby Products Stand Out
At the heart of Joby’s vlogging and live streaming setup is the PodZilla tabletop tripod (medium), which can also be used as a handle for your camera or smartphone when the legs are brought together.
Bring the legs of the Joby PodZilla together and use the tripod as a camera handle.
Jason R. Rich
Over the years, Joby has offered several evolutions of its popular GorillaPod tabletop tripods, which include a unique feature—the ability to bend each tripod leg separately, so you can balance a camera (or smartphone) on an uneven surface or literally wrap the legs of the tripod around something, such as a railing, to hold your camera in place.
The PodZilla tabletop tripod offers this same functionality, but features a total redesign. Plus it comes in multiple colors (including teal, red, yellow and gray). The 7.25-inch long aluminum legs are completely coated with a non-slip rubber material, and the top of the tripod now features a plastic ballhead mount that is adjustable and that can be locked into place at the most opportune angle.
The legs of the Joby PodZilla tripod can easily be wrapped around something to hold your smartphone … [+]
The medium size PodZilla comes with the Joby GripTight 360-Degree Phone Mount, which is an adjustable smartphone mount that screws into the top of the tripod. It firmly holds any smartphone (with a width between 2.6 inches and 3.5 inches) in place. This includes the larger sized iPhone 13 Pro Max within a case, for example. Once a smartphone is within the mount, you can rotate it manually in 45-degree increments, so switching between portrait and landscape mode (or any angle in between) is very simple.
On both sides of the GripTight 360-degree phone mount are slots that accommodate the cold shoe mounts that come with optional accessories—including Joby’s own Beamo LED lights and Wavo microphone.
In addition to holding any smartphone, the Joby PodZilla tripod can simultaneously hold two … [+]
Jason R. Rich
Between the adjustable and bendable legs and the adjustable ballhead mount, one challenge is ensuring your smartphone is being held at a level angle when you’re setting it up for a shoot—especially when using the PodZilla tripod on an uneven surface.
Since there’s no visual level gauge built in, one workaround is to download and install the free Bubble Level for iPhone mobile app, which displays a rather accurate level right on the smartphone’s screen. Similar free apps, like Handy Leveler, are available from the Google Play Store for Android-based smartphones.
While the PodZilla medium size tripod can easily handle the weight of your smartphone and two optional accessories, how stable the PodZilla is when it’s placed on a surface and used as a tripod depends on how you adjust and bend the legs. For example, by extending the top of each leg outwards and the bottom of each leg downwards (shown bel0w), you’ll create a much more stable situation for your phone and any attached accessories.
Bend the legs of the PodZilla portable tripod to create the most stable situation possible for your … [+]
Jason R. Rich
However, when you’re using the PodZilla as a smartphone handle—with the three legs drawn together—not only does the rubberized coating feel good in your hand, but the ridges offer a non-slip grip. It really is a nicer design than the company’s $35 GripTight One GorillaPod Stand for smartphones.
The Joby GripTight 360-Degree Phone Mount that comes with the PodZilla has rubberized sides that’ll keep your smartphone from slipping. The spring mechanism that widens to accommodate various smartphone models is tight, so it’ll wrap firmly around the sides of your phone and hold it in place.
Another great thing about the PodZilla is that without connecting the GripTight 360-degree phone mount, you can use it as a tabletop tripod or handle for any camera (up to 2.2 pounds) that has a built in universal tripod connector. An optional pin joint mount for use with the GoPro cameras is sold separately for $4.95.
The tripod itself weighs just 12.3 ounces, so when you attach an iPhone 13 Pro Max, for example, this brings the total weight up to about 1.31 pounds (not including an iPhone case or attached accessories).
This weight is still pretty easy to manage when using the PodZilla as a handle for your phone for one-handed vlogging or live streaming. However, when you add on the Beamo light and Joby Wavo shotgun microphone (sold seperately), your arm will get a bit of a workout if you need to hold everything up to your face for an extended length of time while you’re walking around filming. This is a situation when having an all-in-one vlogging camera attached to a selfie stick will be more convenient.
Adding Beamo LED Lights To Your Setup Is Simple
If you need to shed bright light onto yourself and the location where you’re shooting (using the front- or rear-facing camera built into your smartphone, for example), a Beamo LED light offers up to 1,500 lumens of brightness in a compact light cube that’s waterproof (down to a 98 foot depth), rugged and battery powered.
This maximum brightness setting of 1,500 lumens is much brighter than the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s built in flash, for example, which generates a maximum brightness of only about 11 lumens in continuous illumination.
Each Beamo light weighs just 4.5 ounces and, with a fully-charged battery, will provide 40 minutes of continuous light at 100 percent brightness, or up to 100 minutes of continuous light at 50 percent brightness.
From a functionality standpoint, turning the Beamo on and off and adjusting the light’s intensity can be done from the buttons built into the light itself. However, a remote control is a more convenient way to control one or more of these light, which you can do by using your smartphone and the free myJOBY app (available from the App Store and Google Play Store).
The myJOBY app requires you to pair your smartphone with one or more Beamo lights via Bluetooth. It can then replace the use of the smartphone’s Camera app for shooting photos or video, while also allowing you to remotely control the individual Beamo lights.
Use the myJoby mobile app to remotely control the Joby Beamo lights.
Jason R. Rich
Charging a Beamo light takes about 140 minutes using the supplied USB-C to USB cable. The USB-C end plus directly into the light, while the opposite end plugs into a laptop computer or any USB power source. (An AC adapter is sold separately). The Beamo lights also support wireless charging, which is a much more convenient, cable-free option, since to ensure water resistance, you need to open two seperate port covers to access the Beamo’s USB-C port.
The Beamo lights have five dimmable options, generate a 60-degree wide light beam, and their casing includes two .25-inch cold shoe mounts, so you can easily attach a Beamo light to either side of your smartphone when it’s mounted on a PodZilla tripod. It’s also possible to link up to four Beamo lights together to form a bigger and more powerful light cube that can then be attached to its own tripod or placed on any surface, for example.
The Joby Beamo lights are very small and lightweight, but they’re also durable and waterproof, so … [+]
Jason R. Rich
For further light intensity adjustments, the Beamo comes with a rubber light diffuser that attaches to the front of the light cube. Since the GripTight 360-Degree Phone Mount that comes with the PodZilla offers two cold shoe mounts (one on either side of where your smartphone is held in place), you can easily use two Beamo lights in unison to add more balanced light around yourself and the area where you’re filming. If you go with this option, however, there will be no additional room on the Podzilla for the external microphone.
The Beamo Mini Offers A Slightly Scaled Down Version Of The Beamo
Tripods for Phone, Camera & Tablet | JOBY
A slightly scaled down version of the Beamo—the Beamo Mini—is also available from Joby. With its slightly smaller physical size and lower weight, it offers the same ruggedness and battery life as its larger counterpart, but only generates a maximum of 1,000 lumens of light.
Each Beamo Mini weighs 3.68 ounces and offers a 55-degree wide light beam, but is only slightly smaller in size than the Beamo. For the minimal price difference, having the availability of up to 1,500 lumen brightness and the wider-angle light beam offered by the original Beamo makes more sense.
The Best Scenarios For Vlogging With PodZilla
If you plan to use the PodZilla tripod with your smartphone for vlogging or live streaming, this combo together with the Beamo lights (and perhaps an external microphone) work extremely well together. However, the same PodZilla tripod and lights can also be used with any action camera or most smaller vlogging cameras, so you have plenty of versatility and options.
When engaged in any activity that you want to shoot from a hands-free, first-person perspective by having your action camera attached to yourself or your equipment, this type of gear isn’t too useful. But if you don’t mind vlogging or streaming while holding everything in one hand, positioning the tripod on a flat surface, or wrapping it around a tree branch or railing, for example, then your smartphone (or a small camera) with the PodZilla will work extremely well together.
The regular Beamo lights (compared to the Beamo Mini) are great to have on hand to flood an area with light or help control unwanted shadows. Because of their portability, they can be placed on any small surface to brighten up the area. Again, the main drawbacks are their relatively short battery life per charge and the two hours it takes to fully recharge each light.
Joby’s Beamo Lights Work With Any Wireless Charging Pad
Amazon Basics 15W Qi Certified Wireless Charging Pad (No AC Adapter)
If you’ll be using the Beamo lights, investing in a wireless charging pad will make keeping the lights charged much easier. Especially if you’re someone who vlogs or live streams while traveling, having the Joby PodZilla and at least one Beamo with you can help you achieve the best shooting results in a wide range of situations—indoors or outdoors.
Are These Joby Products Worth It For Vloggers?
The new design of the Joby PodZilla is more elegant and a bit more versatile than the older design of Joby’s GorillaPod portable tripods, but either will serve a mobile vlogger or live streamer well, especially when the tripod is used with a smartphone or action camera. The fact that the GripTight 360-Degree Phone Mount comes with the PodZilla (medium) is a nice bonus.
The way that the PodZilla and GripTight 360-Degree Phone Mount easily allow the company’s Beamo lights and Wavo microphone to be slipped on and off (but be securely held in place) is another indication that a lot of thought went into the design of these products to ensure maximum portability and convenience for people who need to film on the go. This lightweight kit should be a serious consideration for anyone who has aspirations of upgrading the quality of their mobile vlogs with minimal equipment upgrades.