DSLR cameras may be out of fashion for casual snapping as everyone turns to their increasingly-good mobile phones for stills and video but they do have one huge ergonomic advantage – a proper grip.
Every DSLR and full-size camera has a wedge on the end which enables you to hold the camera securely and stably while shooting. Phones do not and although you can shoot with them, they’re just not ideal. Enter this product from Shoulderpod – the S1 smartphone rig.
Rig is probably too ambitious a term but it is a very useful albeit very simple device – a grip for your phone as the picture on the box illustrates.
Inside you get three parts; the main wedge which comprises a tube with padded jaws at either end which fit round your phone; a screw-in bottom section to give you more to hold and a better shaped grip; and a part-leather strap which helps keep the unit tight and secure when filming.
Putting it on is easy although a little time consuming at least the first time you do it; you unscrew the top of the grip, which is spring loaded and therefore expands the gap between the jaws – and keep doing this, testing it against your mobile phone, until the gap is just big enough to squeeze your phone in.
Then press the jaws down with one hand so that they hold the phone firmly and tighten up the screw firstly to just firm, and then one more turn after that. Shouldpod – and we at Tubeshooter – are very keen to emphasise that you should NOT overtighten the screw in case you crack your phone.
So be gentle but when done, give it a tug or two to make sure the phone’s secure. You don’t want it falling out through being too loose either. Next take the strap and position it under the screw thread on the grip’s base; take the bottom knob and screw it on, through the hole in the strap.
Congratulations, you now have an assembled grip, which as you can see gives you a more more substantial hold on your mobile phone especially one-handed.
It’s odd but it really does work – you feel more stable when holding the phone and it’s easier, at least on our test iPhone, to access the start / stop button without joggling the phone as you might if handheld.
There are a couple of other tricks up the S1’s sleeve – it can be used as a desktop stand too and you don’t have to keep the strap and bottom grip on in this position of course, you can just use it with the main jaws section. If you’re using the phone for audio recording such as a journalist’s note-taking during an interview, it’s handy stand for that too.
On its end, it even forms a very basic one-position stand perhaps for a selfie or something.
That screw thread on the bottom is for more than just the other part of the grip as well; it’s a standard 1/4″-20 hole so you can attach it to many photography accessories from boom poles and selfie-sticks to proper tripods.
Just beware that on some tripod plates the guide prong won’t move out of the way so the S1 hasn’t got space to screw on. On our Libec, as you can see, the guide prong pushes away and you can mount the S1.
Unlike some other phone grips, like the one from Rode which only fits specific iPhone models and the phone has to be out of its case, the S1 clamps onto almost any phone and it doesn’t matter if it’s still in its case, so that saves you some bother. The minimum jaw opening, allowing for the thickness of a phone, is 48mm, and the maximum 93.
The jaws are padded and angled so you should be able to fit pretty much any phone into the device. We reiterate that warning about not overtightening the clamp though.
In conclusion, we like the Shoulderpod S1. It’s very simple but does make the phone easier to hold when filming. If we’re picky, we’d like the bottom part to be a fraction longer for our hands. And, as you’re never going to carry the phone around with the S1 attached because it’s too bulky, we’d like a quicker mechanism to lock it into place rather than the screw thread. But for the price, if you take your phone filming seriously, this is a neat accessory that gives you the confidence of a proper grip.
If you would like to buy the Shoulderpod S1 or indeed the Rode Grip, please consider doing so via our Amazon links (below) as we get a small commission that way to keep this website going. Thank you!