Most smartphone photographers shoot handheld, but occasionally it can be useful to steady your device with a tripod or other type of camera support - for example, taking self-portraits, recording videos or time-lapses or using some kind of gymbal. Since smartphones do not come with tripod threads, you'll have to use a smartphone mount. We've taken a look at a few of them in the past here at DPReview Connect, for example the iStabilizer or Joby Grip Tight.
Recently, a new product caught our eye and we got a chance to test it out. The Shoulderpod S1 has been designed by a group of Spanish mobile photographers and its development funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign. The device is a smartphone mount which can also be used as a stand, for example when watching video on your device. With the included handgrip attached, it allows you to hold your phone more steadily, for example when shooting video. A wrist-strap is also included.
Your smartphone is tightly held in place by a clamp with rubber inlays to make sure your device is not scratched or damaged in any way. You can adjust for different device sizes, from 48 to a massive 93mm width, by turning the dial on top - not quite as quick as some of the simpler designs we have seen. You can speed things up by holding down the spring-loaded top element of the clamp with one finger and turning the dial with the other. The adjustment range is huge and you'll be able to use the Shoulderpod with small devices such as the iPhone 4 or original Motorola Moto X up to the largest phablets, including the Nokia Lumia 1520 or Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
The attachable handgrip screws into the Shoulderpod's tripod thread and is made out of solid aluminum, making it feel very solid in the hand. However, those with larger hands may find it a bit too short. The mount itself is made from plastic but nonetheless feels very sturdy and holds the device in place without any flex or flimsiness.
In practice we found the Shoulderpod S1 to be a very useful tool for any type of smartphone imaging that works better with the device mounted on a tripod. We've used it for testing the new time lapse feature on the iPhone 6 and for keeping things steady in low light. The latter will get you a much better hit rate, especially when shooting with phones that don't use an optical image stabilization system or when using an app that allows you to set a low ISO and slow shutter speed manually.
With the hand grip attached the Shoulderpod allows for really smooth panning when shooting video as well, as you can see in the sample video below that was captured on an iPhone 6 Plus. However, we did not find ourselves using the grip much for stills photography.
Overall we are impressed by the Shoulderpod. Its build-quality is excellent and smartphones of almost any size are held very securely. It is a little bulkier than some alternatives but anyone who frequently mounts their smartphone on a tripod or other support won't be too worried about that. If you think the Shoulderpod S1 might be right for you you can order now on the Shoulderpod website for for $34.90 or €29.90.
What we like: Sturdy design, suitable for variety of devices, holds phone very securely, allows for smooth panning
What we don't like: Slow to adjust, bulkier than the competition
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