ShoulderPod S1 Review

Dear reader, I wrote this review a little more than three months ago. I wish to apologize to the makers of the ShoulderPod and to you, my readers, in the delay of publishing my thoughts. 

While nothing in my evaluation changes, there is an update at the end of the review that reflects additional thoughts of the ShoulderPod S1, since I have had the pleasure to use it under numerous different conditions. Besides, I also wanted a better picture featuring the iPhone being held by the ShoulderPod S1 model.

I am always on the looking for a better system that will protect and hold my iPhone securely when exposed to hazardous and risky situations. So I was delighted when Tina Rice of Combo Apps: Mobile Extreme Editing, informed me that a new product, the ShoulderPos S1 was about to be released.

I wrote Enrique, the principle designer of the ShoulderPod S1 and asked if he would send me one to review. In the meantime I continued to check out the companies website.

After receiving the S1 model, one will quickly notice that much thought and design went into the packaging, something that is very reminiscent of Apple products.

After removing the various components, it becomes also evident that this product is meant to last, for the materials are solid, and as one holds the S1 Grip in one’s hand, you feel it is well designed. 

Once the three components were assembled, I tested the S1 on a number of different occasions and wrote Enrique of my initial findings. A discussion ensued, which prompted me to further test the S1 under more ‘combat-like’ situations, like street photography, including how the unit might be applied to daily uses.

One thing I have learned when it comes to judging a product, it is always good to re-evaluate ones initial findings by having a second and even a third critical look at a product.

Showing various mobile phones held by the ShoulderPos S1

My original first impressions about the ShoulderPod S1, was that it gives excellent value for the money, especially when compared to other products. In particular I was impressed with the material consisting of the grip and the clamp mechanism that holds the mobile phone.

However I was concerned that the grip was a little to short and the nylon strap possible not lasting. Now do not stop reading here, because I have re-evaluated my initial first response to the ShoulderPod S1.

There is no denying that the ShoulderPod S1 was carefully designed to achieve three specific functions, apart from being a secure and steady way to hold a mobile phone when taking pictures. The S1 was also designed to be used as a secure tripod mount and resting stand for when the mobile is working as a tablet, so that the angle offers ease of viewing the screen in a vertical position only.

Diagram of the ShoulderPos S1 assembly

So many products are designed to fit only a specific model and type of a mobile phone, placing the consumer in the position of having to replace the item every two years or less, when they update their mobile device. This is definitely not he case with the ShoulderPod S1, as it was designed to just about fit any type and model of a mobile unit, further increasing the consumers value for their money.

While a good percentage of my mobile photography involves having the iPhone mounted to a tripod, I can say with complete certainty, that I now have a grip that will hold my iPhone securely. No longer will I have concerns when the mobile is mounted to a monopod and extended for 3 to 4 feet over the ledge of a building several stories high, as long as everything is nice and tight, the mobile phone is going nowhere, even when holding it above ones self  for a better over-head shot. In other words, the ShoulderPod S1is ideal as a tripod or monopod mount.

Diagram of the ShoulderPos S1 clamp

Now we come to its use as a grip and being able to hold the mobile phone steady. In this area the S1 does a good job in helping keep the mobile steady during filming or taking pictures, but for some the handle will be the perfect length, for others, they may find it a little too short by about two fingers widths. With that said, it should also be noted that the use of the strap significantly aids in holding the mobile phone that the length of the handle may not be an issue for you.

Finally we come to the S1’s remaining purpose, a vertical-angled stand. At first i thought I would not be using this feature but after testing the unit a second time, I feel this S1 capability is becoming more indispensable. For example, while volunteering as projectionist for an OPEN SHOW-Bay Area function, I used the S1 as a stand, while the iPhone functioned as a stopwatch next to my laptop. This allowed me to sit back and view the both screens comfortably without having to hold the mobile throughout the show. 

I have begun to also use the S1 more as a vertical-angled stand resting on my nightstand, kitchen table or my desk, when I am reading, working on the laptop or watching a Netflix. This way, I can quickly glance at the mobile screen without having to get up or have the phone so close to me at arms reach.

The vertical-angel stand function is not limited to this function only. By adjusting the position of the mobile in the grip, one can use it to take one’s own portrait, a selfie. It also can be used in this position to do close-up or macro photography in which critical focus is essential and by not having to hold the mobile, one can achieve tack sharp images. Being a still-life photographer, this position with a wide angle lens attached to the mobile, providing some extreme low angles which would not be possible is one were trying to use a tripod.

Now let us look at the components that comprise the ShoulderPod S1, I feel could use improving. 

I would like the handle to be longer in length, so that it covers all four fingers of my hand. This will allow me to hold the unit without using the strap, permitting the hand greater rotation to the extreme. Then there is the strap, which could be made of a thicker material.

Since I use the ShoulderPod S1 a good portion of the time to secure the mobile to the tripod, having to remove the handle and strap was not an issue, rather what to do with the two components, especially when on location. Besides, I would like to switch back and forth between tripod and hand-held with as little fuss as possible. I therefore am suggesting to Enrique that a tripod female screw mount be added to the bottom of the handle. This way I would never have to remove the handle and strap when mounting the ShoulderPod S1 to a monopod or tripod.

Though everyone will not only use the ShoulderPod S1 differently but also in the way one hold it when taking pictures or filming a movie, I still feel I can honestly recommend this product.

The design, function and the excellent material of the handle and mobile grip is made of, cannot be beat for the price one pays. This is one product that scores five stars for value of ones money. This would include function and use, while losing ½ a star for the handle not being long enough in my opinion, and another ¼ star for the strap material. The ShoulderPod S1 final score comes in at 85% positive and in my book it is a must have item for any serious iPhoneographer.


Now that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have been released, be assured the ShoulderPod S1 works very well with both models. 

In the meantime during which I used the ShoulderPod S1, one issue arose that I should caution you about. I am referring to the two V-shaped upper and lower rubber pads, as I have experienced twice that the lower V-shaped pad fall out, indicating that they are not glued in and only pressure holds then to the clamp.

I wish to recommend that you glue them in place by using a none-water soluble adhesive to keep them secured in place and from having them accidentally lost. I was fortunately to locate my lost V-Shaped pads.

Despite this minor issue which can be easily fixed, the ShouldPod S1 is still a good buy for your money and not only well worth having, it is an essential tool no mobile photographer should be with out.

          Corporate statement

We are a team of engineers and designers with 20 years experience in product design. who love photography and filmmaking, but we also love taking pictures and filming with our smartphone cameras. Unfortunately we couldn't figure how to hold them correctly and so we thought, "What if we changed that?" So after 1 year of work at TAMBAKUNDA (, our product design studio, we came up with a range of interesting concepts that we are now ready to share with you. We've partnered with top class European companies for crafting high quality equipment that will change the way you film and take pictures professionally with your mobile devices.


ShoulderPod official website

Subscribe to their newsletter and learn tips and tricks

More information about the company

All photographs taken with an iPhone 4S by
©2014 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved

Generations Pass in Silence Before Me

For some years I have been collecting photographs, the ones that no longer had a home, an attachment to a family, the kind that were simply were abandoned. In the twelve or fifteen years that I have been collecting, I have seen generations upon generations pass in silence before my eyes, only to disappear for good.

In the years that I have been collecting, I was focusing on the 20s through the mid 1950s and preferring mostly black & white prints, deliberately ignored images from the 60s to the present. I even disregarded the occasional negatives or transparencies, as well as photographs that were faded, had major color shifts or were damaged, but that has now all changed.

Opening Presents, C-Print, date unknown

When I started acquiring my photographs, it was to accumulate a nice collection from which to draw inspiration for developing short stories that I would write and then illustrate with the found photograph. Though the stories still need to be written, collecting photographs has taken on an urgency.

In a little over one decade I have come to witness several generations disappear. Those who experienced World War Two, their photographs no longer appear on the market. Even the following two generations are disappearing, making room for photographs that were printed in the 70s to the present and soon they too will disappear. 

San Francisco Chinatown, C-Print, date unknown

We are fast approaching when a marketplace will no longer offer photographic prints, for it will have been replaced by the cloud, places like Instagram, FaceBook and other social media. 

I consider myself only a caretaker of these images, trying to give them another breath of life by sharing them as a collection in an eBook. At the moment I have begun to select and scan images depicting people on vacation for an ePublication called “Road Trips,” followed by several other eBooks that would be released on iTunes and most likely offered for free.

That is the plan for 2015, which includes finding a repository, a museum that would assume being caretaker if my son has no interest in taking on the responsibility, since we do not live indefinitely. In the meantime I shall keep on collecting, preserving what I can.

Polaroid SX-70 instant print, Date unknown

C-Print, September 1968

Polaroid Land Camera instant print, Date unknown

C-Print, April 1968

The Picnic, C-Print, July 1958

C-Print on pearl paper, Date unknown

Passport to My Neighborhood - José

Because there was still plenty of available light for about another 90 minutes before having to call it a day, that I decided to venture into another part of San Francisco that not too many people see. I am referring to the Tenderloin District, a place where you will find the worst of the worst, as well as the kind and good hearted unfortunates that call this area home, and this is where I found José.


He was coming out of a building behind me as I was standing partially in the street, photographing the structure across from me. Amidst the noise of traffic, I heard a voice addressing me, asking why I am taking a photograph of the building. While still focused on getting the image, I replied without looking back and simple replied, “because I like the architecture.”

Once finished, I slowly turned around and there stood a man in his late thirties or early forties with a smile on his face, instructing me to look at the light, not the lights in the that were in the building I had just photographed, but how the setting sun by now effect the sky that was visible in the negative spaces between the buildings.

One could tell in his voice that he was expressing a sense of joy for something most would not have taken noticed of or even pondered at length. Yet here was a man who’s heart was filled with a joy, standing amidst one of the sordid squalored parts of town.

He asked if I was a tourist and where I was from, I said I was just from the other side of the bay but originally from Alemania, to which he replied, “Así que usted habla español?” With a sense of embarrassment I had to confess I spoke no Spanish. What followed next made me uncomfortable, as he wanted to know what I thought about Hitler and I feel that there is more to Germany’s history then just Hitler. 

As we continued our conversation, he mentioned if I knew that earlier today another American journalist had been brutally executed by ISIS. It was at this point he kept asking over and over again, why we cannot live in harmony with each other.

We introduced each other and I learned that his name is José and he came from El Salvador. He paused briefly, looked directly into my eyes which did not waver from his gaze, when he began to share his story.

José told me that his mother and father had been killed, actually murdered. He offered no clues as to by whom, how or when. His voice was now more shaky and his gaze avoided me completely other then looking everywhere but really nowhere. A tear began to slowly roll down from his left eye which he choose not to wipe it away. Without a second thought, I embraced him, holding tight this stranger whom I just met a few minutes ago. 

We shared an unspoken moment of intimacy where nothing around us existed. All he wanted was to live in harmony though he had been robbed, even stabbed, it all did not matter. He felt no need for retribution or ill against any of the perpetrators. He forgave them, he was at peace with himself. 

There was an understandable pause and as we slowly continued our conversation,  it was only to bring our meeting to a conclusion and slowly walk in opposite directions.

Often I have walked these and other streets of the less fortunate and wondered about the people I passed, yet always fearful of stopping and engaging a stranger in conversation, even though I wanted to have not only their picture but the story that would accompany that portrait.

José obviously is one of the very few fortunate individuals living in the Tenderloin where human grief and misery flourish in great abundance. These wretched surroundings had no real effect on him. José rose above it, for he took pride in how he looked. His white shirt was clean except for some paint splatter, possible revealing his trade. The facial hair trimmed and his hands were clean. His mannerism civil and polite.

I wish I had asked questions of José but I did not. Our chance meeting was just that and I for one am grateful, that for a few minutes this man trusted me enough to share what was on his mind, in his heart.


In the beginning of meeting José, I asked if I could take his picture and while it was not posed, I also knew I wanted a few casual shots, especially as José talked about himself. With the iPhone already set to silence and the appropriate camera application selected, any additional photographs needed to be captured in stealth mode, this meant not looking at my mobile at any time. 

I was fortunate enough to be resting against a parking meter which I used to steady myself and the arm that held the phone. While driven to get the shots at all costs, I also felt uncomfortable, guilty one might say, when he cried. Believing as well as hoping I had obtained the images, I lowered the iPhone.

The majority of today’s street photography is accomplished on the run, without engaging the subject and when you do inner act with someone, the photographs usually appear posed, something I would like to avoid. 

Because I find character and human drama on these particular streets, where people of all races and nationalities carve out a meager existence, I will return and maybe the next time I will be the one to begin the conversation.

Technical notes: Camera applications were PureShot and Hipstamatic. All images are full frame. and have been post processed using an Apple iPad 4 with retina in Stackables with customized filters developed by me.

All photographs taken with an iPhone 4S by
©2014 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved

First Friday of the Month - Jordaan HipstaPak

Lens: Vincent - Film: Rijks, no flash

Before you know it, another month has passed and we are once again confronted with anticipation and the wonder if this month’s offering from Hipstamatic will have us being excited or disappointed, considering the scoreboard has not looked that great these passed many months., but let’s take a look and see what the Jordaan HipstaPak, with a Vincent lens and Rijks film is all about.

In case you are wondering why this Hipstpak is named Jordaan, it is because the Jordaan District in Amsterdam, which is noted for some of the best art galleries and it is also remembered for the painter Rembrandt van Rijn, who in his lesser successful period, also came to live in Jordaan, as many other creative souls have also called it home.

Upon first glance I see that the film is borderless, something that many of my colleagues prefer, including myself.  Now Hipstamatic states that the Vincent lens is “Inspired by the great artists of Amsterdam” and that the lens “adds a cool contrast,” while the film “Adds some circular texture and focus.”

While it is a relief to find that this combination of Vincent and Rijks to be without any special effect anomalies, one needs to see how either of these two will react when paired with another lens or film in the Hipstamatic collection will react.

After spending more than four hours on Friday riding around and exploring Rodeo, Crockett, and Martinez and obtaining my images, I have decided that for the October HipstaPak release, I shall return to Rodeo and explore this quirky but quaint town. However let us now have a look at the Jordaan HipstaPak.

Lens: Vincent - Film: Rijks, no flash

Allow me to first focus on the Vincent lens. At first glance appears to have striking similarities to Lowy, which I have always said was the sharpest lens in the Hipstamatic tool box and Vincent looks like it is coming in a close second.

When we look at the following two images, I just realized I should have taken both with the Rijks film and not the Lowy lens with Sussex film, in order to discuss the sharpness of the lens. Yet because I used Sussex film, I am able to assess any color shifts in how Vincent and Rijks renders the scene.

While Vincent is not as sharp as the Lowy lens, there are no apparent differences between the two other than that the Vincent has a gentle violet color cast, which we can see in the following examples when it is combined with other films. Yet when Vincent is paired with Rijks, that shift is greatly increased.

LEFT Lens: Lowy - Film: Sussex — RIGHT Lens: Vincent - Film: Rijks

One can see that the Sussex film renders the colors clean and very accurate, while there is definitely an over-all violet color cast effecting all the colors in the Rijks film. One just needs to look at the blue sky, the dried yellow grasses and the whites. This violet cast takes away the natural colors purity and even dampens the highlights, which is clearly visible under the freeway’s overpasses underside.

Lens: Vincent - Film: Rijks, no flash

When we look at these two samples above, we see that Rijks film has a difficulty maintaining the colors depth in bright light and again we can see the films violet over-cast effecting all the colors.

Now let’s look at Jordaan HipstaPak when paired with other lenses and film.

It should be pointed out that all images represented in this lens and film test have not been manipulated in post production and the selection of alternative lenses and film selection was done randomly. After the selection process, the same set would be applied for all scenes, also the iPhone was mounted to a tripod using a ShoulderPod.

Lens: Vincent - Film: Ina’s 1935, no flash

As the day’s photo shoot continued, I noticed the direction and quality of light has a large bearing on the outcome with the results of the Jordaan collection and  though this is also true with any combination of lens and film or photography for that matter, it was rather noticeable with the Jordaan HipstaPak. Judging from these four examples, Ina’s 1935 is a good combination.

Lens: Vincent - Film: Robusta, no flash

Robusta’s film base has a reddish undercurrent and this is visible upon closer examination. This also helps to increase the over all intensity of the colors, yet in the interior shots where there is no direct light, the red under tones appear more pronounced in the ivory wall of the last image. 

Lens: Vincent - Film: Uchitel 20, no flash

Though Uchitel 20 film is originally a light beige toned film, the violet inherent Vincent lens shifts the beige coloration by making the beige tones darker and adjusting their hue a little towards the reddish spectrum.

Lens: Vincent - Film: W40, no flash

This combination truly intensifies the scenes colors beautifully, unfortunately, I personally do not care for the vignetting as it makes the photograph appear being an ancient spy glass, that is very noticeable on the two exterior shots. 

Lens: Florence - Film: Rijks, no flash

This combination peaked my interests when we are looking at the two exterior photographs. Primarily as it renders the moment being a very hot one, for one cannot help but feel heat and it has me contemplating how the pairing of these two would capture the Sonora Desert or Joshua Tree State Park in the height of summer.

Of course interior settings will not  have this rendering, rather colors will just be lighter or a little faded, depending on the scene.

Lens: Mabel - Film: Rijks, no flash

If one is after a feel of a photographic print having lost specific color dyes and the over all appearance of the print has shifted, as it is represented here with Mable’s greenish dominance, then this is a combination to be considered.

Lens: Wonder - Film: Rijks, no flash

When Vincent was shared with the W40 fashion film, we had really saturated colors, yet when W40’s original companion lens, the Wonder lens is paired with Rijks film, the results are almost as saturated. However, because of the Wonder lens blueish hue, lighter colors are more influenced and effected.

Lens: Vincent - Film: Rijks, no flash

Of course there are many more possible combinations possible and I have only touched the surface. If you feel drawn to either the Vincent lens of Rijks film of the Jodaan HipstaPak, you have have to experiment and obtain your own results. All I have done here is to provide you with a small guide and hopefully an incentive to see what other possibilities there are.

Lens: Vincent - Film: Rijks, no flash

So what are my final thoughts about the Jordaan HipstaPak.

Though the Jordaan set is generally a decent set, I cannot help but feel a little cheated. The Vincent lens is a light modification of the Lowy lens, the Rijks film by itself offers little  to truly enhance the Hipstamatic collection.

We can take a number current Hipstamatic films , all of which have a large percentage of similarities to Rijks film, with only minor differences.

I have always been a supporter of Hipstamatic, but I also have been its critic. I would like Hipstamatic to succeed, but right now they appear adrift on a big ocean with no wind for their sails and a large Albatross around their neck. 

Since we are no longer provided with two films and a lens as in previous years, we have had a price increase, even though we still pay only $.99 per update. Yet outside of the USA, they have had to endure a double whammy, as they are actually paying a third more then we are.

But let us return to the core issue at hand. The creative team at Hipstamatic has entered a cycle of redundancy and while I would not wish for Hipstamatic to to bring back the anomalies of errors and special effects. I would suggest they look at the history of photography for inspiration, but also at art, for there is a wealth of ideas for a creative mind to explore and adopt ones findings to a set of films and lenses.

All photographs taken with an iPhone 4S by
©2014 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...