The first time I took Mobile Photography more seriously and started to take photos a lot, I began to realise that as far as the form-factor goes a typical mobile phone had not been designed for photography. It just doesn’t have that ‘grip‘ I usually get when I hold a proper SLR.
With the mobile phone I’m more like ‘pinching it between my fingers‘ as oppose to ‘gripping‘ it, if you know what I meant. After a long shooting session, like when I go for a photo-walk, this way of holding can be very tiring. Oh and you can forget about one-handed photo/video shoot, I have managed to get a nasty cram or at least a sore muscle pretty often from this
Let’s face it, the way we hold camera phone like that is just awkward at best or worst it could get us an RSI.
There are some smartphone cases that features a special grip, like the Smart Phocus I’ve previously reviewed, but this kind of specialised gears more often than not force us to commit to the set, and they are not cheap too.
Another way to improve our grip is by getting a smartphone grip like the Shoulderpod S1 I have here. The Shoulderpod S1 will give you back that steady, comfortable and secure feeling you usually get when you hold a dedicated camera (pocket or SLR). Moreover the S1 is not just a grip but also tripled as a Tripod Mount and a Stand.
Let’s check it out in more details.
What’s in the box
The Shoulderpod S1 comes in a professionally looking box. In it you can find an adjustable grip, a grip extension and a wrist strap.
It also includes an essential ‘Read me before use‘ instruction and surprisingly a 2 year limited guarantee notice. The instruction text is easily understood and clearly illustrated with pictures. The guarantee is a welcome addition just in case you need it.
Let’s get a Grip!
The Shouldpod S1 is made of high resistant polymer and includes machined brass inserts. It works like an adjustable clamp for your smartphone.
Unlike the Glif where you need to use a Hex (Allen) key to adjust the clamp, the S1 features a built-in Thumbscrew. To adjust the clamp all you need to do is just screw or unscrew it. You can even do this one-handedly.
The grip can open wide enough to hold most Smartphone models in the market, with or without a case, including the new iPhone 6 Plus. The range is actually between 48 and 93 mm. Please check your phone compatibility first before you buy.
If you see at the photos I’m including here, you will find soft rubber pad on each of the clamping hand. This will give an added stability and security for the clamped smartphone.
Open the thumbscrew to allow the top clamp hand to open wide enough for your smartphone. Then slide the phone between the clamps, and finally close it by re-tighten the thumbscrew. Now your smartphone is safe and secured and ready for action.
The phone now feels more natural to hold (like a proper camera), especially in a long period of time. It also adds more stability to it. I didn’t feel that my phone would suddenly slip off my hand and drop it to the floor. I could even hold it just with one hand easily and comfortably.
At the bottom of the grip, you can find a standard 1/4″-20 tripod thread. This is a universal thread which you can use to mount the grip, hence your smartphone, to virtually any photographic stabilisation and extension gear in the market.
Check out this cool iPhone 6 Plus review by Austin Mann where he used S1 to mount the iPhones to his rig.
Extension and Strap on … I like what you are thinking!
The next thing I got in the box was the Grip Extension and the Wrist Strap. The Grip Extension is a solid aerospace-grade aluminium and it feels quite ‘weighty‘. The Wrist Strap is hand-made in dark brown suede.
You attach the wrist strap to the S1 by using the grip extension, as shown in the photos.
The grip extension screws in to the grip’s tripod mount and holding the strap. The added length that the extension gives means that there is more ‘space’ to hold the grip. This is especially helpful if you have a bigger hand. Moreover the added weight give more stability and balance to the whole rig. This about it as a mini camera stabilizer.
Finally the wrist strap gives the added security. You can loop it around your wrist, again to avoid some accidental drop. You can also loop it around your belt or attach it to your backpack for transporting.
The whole rig is pretty lightweight that you can carry it in your pocket without feeling that it weighs you down.
Stands on its own!
Since the S1 is stable enough to stand on its own, vertically and horizontally, you can use it as an impromptu tripod.
It had been great to have the Shoulderpod S1 with me on some photo/video shooting sessions that I went through. In these sessions I had the S1 attached on my iPhone at all time. The grip gave me that comfort when I had to shoot a long video and stability when I must get a sharp non-shaky picture. And then when free-roaming wasn’t enough I just plonked it to my tripod and started shooting again in seconds.
I like also in particular the fact that the S1 doesn’t care whether I use a case, any case, or go ‘naked’ with my iPhone. This allows me to customize my iPhone gear more. For example if I wanted to use the Olloclip lenses, I wouldn’t be able to use any case (except the Quick-Flip). But on the other hand if I wanted to use another gear that needs the use of a case, e.g. the TurtleJacket PentaEye or the Manfrotto Klyp+, I could still use the grip. Either way, the S1 would still work!
The Shoulderpod is allegedly designed to be expandable, with the Grip Extension being the first ‘expansion’. I’m really curious of what they would come up with the next extension. I will let you know as soon as I get any word from them.
Last but not least, with all these professional features that the S1 has, it doesn’t cost a fortune to get one!
If you are in the USA or Canada, you can buy the Shoulderpod S1 for $34.90. If you are in Europe, you can get one for only 29.90 Euro (that would be around £24 for UK folks). And the best thing is they ship for FREE!
Unfortunately they don’t sell to the rest of the world yet, but it’s coming soon, so stay tuned.
Check out their website where you can find more information and the online store where you can buy the S1.
Also checkout some of these videos from their collections:
Want to take cooler pics with your phone? Use Olloclip's 4-in-1 lens to take your mobile photography to the next level with macro, fisheye, and wide-angle lenses.