Saturday

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.


          UpDate

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 (www.tambakunda.com), 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.





          Links

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






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