I’m on a mission to shoot more video with my iPhone this year and I’ve got a new accessory that’s helping me accomplish that goal. It’s the S1 Smartphone Rig by Shoulderpod ($34.90) and it’s helping me make better mobile movies.
This device is simultaneously capable of tackling two of the biggest problems with mobile video making: unsteady shots and the lack of a tripod mount.
Yesterday was the first day I took the S1 out in the wild for some testing and I have to say I was really taken with the little accessory. While it has three modes (tripod mount, filmmaker grip and travel stand) I mostly only care about one feature: the filmmaker grip.
Essentially the filmmaker grip acts as a stabilizer—and, obviously, makes holding the phone a bit easier and less awkward while filming. Out of the box the kit comes with three parts: an adjustable grip, a grip extension and a wrist strap. All put-together it’s a compact, but sturdy, setup that doesn’t have a cheap feel like so many, well, cheaper iPhone camera accessories.
I found that the filmmaker grip does make shooting video better. I really like the way it fits into my hand. By mounting the iPhone with the home button nearest your hand, it’s easy to open the camera using the lock screen swiping shortcut, navigate to video mode and start recording all with your thumb.
As opposed to holding your phone with a thumb and middle finder, like I am prone to do without any sort of filmmaking rig, the S1 is much, much more comfortable (and natural) for shooting prolonged video clips (and even a series of shorter ones).
While I probably won’t break this accessory out for every video I shoot (like mundane, around the house stuff) I will absolutely use it for the videos I really care about. It’s definitely earned a spot in my regular arsenal and will be coming with me everywhere.
The adjustable grip’s got a large screw-like top that lets you adjust the height to fit any phone. It’s really easy to use and works very well. I’ve used other tripod mounts for the iPhone and none are quicker, more stable or easier to deploy than the S1.
Normally I don’t like straps of any kind: camera straps, guitar straps… you name it. But I always use the included strap when I’m using the filmmaker grip because a $600 phone is not something you want to drop. Plus, with the rig all hooked up to your phone, it’s not like you can put the phone in your pocket real easily… so you can let it dangle if you need to free up your hand for something else.
Assembling the rig is easy. Put your phone into the grip and screw the grip extension into the bottom of the grip. You can optionally (and I recommend doing so) stick the wrist strap in-between the two other pieces (it has a hole that fits around the grip extension’s scew).
The adjustable grip can also be used as a tripod mount for your smartphone. I have no complaints in this department. It works quite well.
Of course if you really needed a stand you could also use the grip as either a horizontal or vertical holder, but there are better options out there. The big use here is for filming.
If you want to make better mobile movies—including shooting steadier video or being able to mount your phone to a tripod—the Shoulderpod S1 is a must-have camera accessory that can give you an edge.