Do you like to wander the streets, camera in hand, ready to catch an amazing shot? Have you ever missed that shot thanks to the time taken to fumble your iPhone from your pocket and fire up the camera? Even if the answer to these questions is “No,” you should probably take a look at Shoulderpod’s S1 anyway – it’s not only a great camera grip, but also the best value you’ll get spending $30 on an iPhone accessory.
That $30 gets you an absurdly well-built clamp, handle and strap. The clamp part, which comprises an adjustable pair of rubber-lined jaws that screw securely down onto the iPhone, also doubles (triples?) as a tripod mount (there’s a threaded hole in one end) and a travel/self-timer stand. Also in the box is the “Filmmaker Grip,” a solid metal cylinder that screws into the tripod mount to give great one-handed control of the camera.
Finally, you can slip the supplied wrist strap into the rig, between the clip and the grip, securing the whole setup from drops and snatches. Given that the Shoulderpod team is based in Barcelona, Spain, I like to think this last feature is designed to thwart the city’s swarms of pickpockets.
The S1 provides no control of the iPhone. It’s a dumb grip, not a Bluetooth trigger, and that’s great. You can wrap your fingers around the chunky clamp and trip the on-screen shutter with your thumb, or your can use your left hand, too, and squeeze the iPhone’s volume switch with your other thumb, which feels surprisingly natural.
You’re going to want the Filmmaker Grip in this setup, as the clamp alone doesn’t feel so good (it works well on a tripod or as a vertical or horizontal stand, though). And – as the instructions warn – you should take care when clamping, as the screw could compress the jaws to screen-popping tightness.
I like to use the S1 with the excellent Mattebox app, which really benefits from a freely roaming thumb. Mattebox is a camera (and editing) app that allows as much manual control as the iPhone can give. The shutter button is a slider (touch to lock focus, slide to take the picture), the exposure can be adjusted with a thumb dial, and the white balance can be set with a tap. It’s perfectly suited to the S1, with all the controls falling under your right thumb.
The only thing I don’t like is not the fault of the S1. When using a regular camera, I can let it go to sleep and wake it up with a squeeze of the shutter button. The iPhone, by contrast, needs to be awoken with a button, and then you either need to slide the camera icon or unlock the screen to take a photo. There’s not much that can be done about that.
There’s some irony here. I’ve spent way too much time over the years in search of the perfect wrist strap for my various cameras. I wanted to be able to strap my camera of choice to my hand and wander the streets, ready to bring it up for a shot. And at last I’ve found the perfect strap and grip, only it’s for my iPhone, and it costs just $30. If only I could fit this to my Fujifilm X100S …
|S1 by Shoulderpod ($30 list)The good: Solid, comfortable, perfect at what it does.
The bad: Doesn’t play well with the volume shutter buttons.
The verdict: Buy it. It costs the same as a Lightning cable for chrissakes.
Buy from Shoulderpod