Review: Shoulderpod S1
Originally an Indiegogo project, Shoulderpod has just released its first product, the S1, and I've been testing it with my Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020. It's a combined stabiliser/grip/mount - it's fabulously constructed and it works really well. Here's to better smartphone-shot video (and, of course, you might find my tutorial helpful!)
Every accessory has to solve a problem in order to be worthwhile. As it happens the S1 solves several problems, making it worthy of a coveted place in my kit bag. When shooting video on a smartphone, you're essentially limited to what you can shoot while standing or sitting up. Try to get too ambitious, crouching down (or on tiptoes) and holding the phone at an odd angle (i.e. with the phone pointing ahead and your wrists taking up the strain) and you have a recipe for disaster, it's so easy to drop the phone or for your wrists to get tired and end up misframing the clip.
Dropping the phone onto grass isn't an issue, dropping it onto concrete or into water and it's disaster. The S1 then, grips your phone ultra-securely, and provides a handle and a very secure wrist strap in order for you to shoot more ambitious subjects.
And, almost as an aside, the grip part is a fabulously secure tripod mount for any size camera-toting smartphone.
The box shot gives away most of what you need to know:
Presentation, packing materials and, of course, the S1 product itself are all first class - this screams premium all the way:
The main (high quality plastic) grip is centred around a chunky (metal) screw threaded cyclinder, which clamps down on a smartphone's top and bottom edges - the insets to protect the edges are rubber and make for an extremely secure grip. The screw on (into the bottom standard tripod hole) handle appears to be painted and textured aluminium. The wrist strap goes onto the tripod mounting screw, of course:
Perfectly sized to fit round the average wrist with zero slack, the strap, handle and grip combination work very well and it's clear that a lot of design iteration has got the S1 to this point.
In use, although I guess the S1 could be used for stills, it's far more useful as an all purpose phone holder when shooting video in arty or awkward situations. Instantly, for example, I can think of several watery subjects (canals, weirs) which I've always shied away from going near because of the nagging worry that I'd fumble and drop my smartphone - with the S1, I can start shooting and then position my hand as low or high or in as much 'danger' as I like, without fear.
Priced at 30 Euros (about £25), this is great value as a general purpose smartphone accessory for anyone who likes capturing video. As a glorified tripod mount it's pricier, but then it's a heck of a lot better built than the average eBay phone mount, and I have no hesitation in recommending this to AAS and AAWP readers - the grip will cope with even the largest phablets (e.g. Nokia Lumia 1520), while going down to around 5cm in width (quite a bit smaller than the likes of the Nokia N8 and 808).
[The S1 web page also makes reference to the grip functioning as a stand for propping up your phone when watching media - I've discounted this, since it only really works in portrait mode, by definition. Still, your use - and device - will vary here, so who knows?]
Launching today, the S1 is up for pre-ordering today, with the price quoted above liable to go up slightly at the end of the week, after the initial launch offer.
Published by Steve Litchfield at 7:47 UTC, June 10th