The more powerful the iPhone camera gets, the less practical the iPhone design is for certain jobs. Holding a thin, pocket-shaped device out in front of your face with your forefingers and thumbs on both ends to view the screen is risky and shaky, especially for video.
But there are accessories that can give the mobile video shooter a secure and steady grip without adding much weight or bulk in the field. Among the best tools come from a company in Spain called Shoulderpod.
The Shoulderpod platform offers a couple of different kits along with individual pieces to customize a rig to fit a variety of video accessories, like microphones, lights or additional cameras.
The company started in Barcelona in 2014 and its products are widely used throughout Europe where mobile journalism is more common. Last year, Shoulderpod developed a special rig for the BBC. Shoulderpod gear is sold in Apple Stores throughout Europe and the Middle East and made its U.S. debut in February.
“Only a few years ago, a journalist needed the support of a big crew of technicians for going out and creating a news piece,” Shoulderpod’s co-founder Enrique Frisancho says on the company’s website. “Nowadays, a mobile journalist or ‘mojo’ can easily carry a complete professional studio for filming, editing and even live broadcasting a story. All this amazing technology fits in your backpack and is as simple to use as tapping a few icons on your smartphone.”
Shoulderpod sent me a review kit and I couldn’t help but be immediately drawn to the wooden handles on the grip. They were smooth to the touch and felt as if they were designed to fit my hands. I also noticed the S2, a handle with smartphone grip was light weight.
The grip has wide, V-shaped rubber pads that securely cradle your iPhone and adjust with a thumb screw at the top. To the S2, I also added a short plate made of metal with a cork platform. This provided a platform to mount a LED light, however, I could use the space for a GoPro camera or a microphone.
I could screw this to a tripod or roam with it in my hand thanks to a wrist strap secured between the grip and handle with a thick piece of leather.
The Shoulderpod Pro Rig has two handles below a platform that fits your iPhone camera plus two accessories, such as a mic and a light, but this too can be built out with the various plates and other pieces sold individually by the company.
When you hold the individual plates, knobs, grips and cold shoe in your hands, you appreciate the thought that went into the design and functionality. Every texture or curve on each piece seems to serve a function and no matter what size rigging I built for myself, I always found them to be well balanced.
While made for mobile, I tried the two-handled pro rig with my Fuji mirrorless camera and found with some customizing it would work just fine to steady my video shoots with that camera. I also appreciate how even the larger pro rig can pack away in a laptop bag.
While Shoulderpod is popular among the “mojo” community in Europe, these tools are great for any video storytelling you might do, especially for filmmakers or travel vloggers.
Price: Individual modular pieces will vary in price. Prices at both B&H and Adorama are within a dime of each other and list lower than Amazon, though Amazon does over free shipping so it may be a draw. The S2 Handle Grip runs just under $40 at all three. The R2 Pocket Rig runs a little under $80 and the X1 Pro Rig is around $120 at both B & H and Adorama.
Cult of Mac received a review kit from Shoulderpod for this review. Read Cult of Mac’s reviews policy.