Shoulderpod S2: one rig, three functions

The Shoulderpod S2, the entry-level professional handle-grip for smartphones, is all the rig you need… because it is modular and also because it is more than a handle-grip.

Shoulderpod S2, all the smartphone rig you need

Designed to be modular, the Shoulderpod S2 is elegant, doesn’t attract too much attention, does what it promises and… can be the base of your smartphone camera rig.

Modularity is the name of the game when it comes to the Shoulderpod S2 from the Spanish company Shoulderpod, based in Barcelona. I wrote here before about the product, but one thing is to write about it, the other to hold the product in your hands and play with it.

The S2 is an evolution of the original S1 that started it all. While it is a handle-grip for smartphones, it is more than that, really: it is a piece of design, a voyage of discovery that starts with the packaging. Opening the box gives you a sense of the care taken when creating the product. Nicely protected in foam, you’ll find the  three components of the  Shoulderpod S2: a clamp, a grip and a wrist-strap, very much like the original S1.

Shoulderpod S2, all the smartphone rig you need

Made of an ABS polymer with metal inserts and rubber pads, the clamp G1 is the same as the original, with the adjustable mechanism and rubber pads that allow it to fit virtually any mobile device. The difference, though, is that the grip H1, which is bigger and makes it easier to hold the rig, is made of Sapeli wood, a nice touch, complemented by the wrist-strap, W1, finished in genuine leather. The S2 is more than a piece of plasti you carry around, it’s a piece of design that looks good and, as far as I can tell from trying it, works as expected.

Although you may buy the S2 because you want a handle-grip that helps to stabilize your video, as any other handle-grip promises to do, you’ll soon discover other uses for the S2. In fact, the S2 is three things in one: a filmmaker handle, a tripod mount and a table stand.  Because both the G1 grip and the H1 handle include a standard 1/4″-20 thread metal insert at the bottom, it is possible to mount them on a tripod.

Shoulderpod S2, all the smartphone rig you need

Used with a small table tripod, the system allows for a very professional and stable solution for smartphone filmmakers and photographers.  Through the use of adapters and because the connections used are standard, it is possible to use the S2 with different kind of supports, even a Manfrotto Justin Clamp that allows to place the rig in different places, some where a tripod, even small, would not be a viable solution.

The many ways the S2 can be used contribute to make it so interesting. For example, the G1 grip, because of its design, can stand on its own, both in portrait and landscape mode, meaning you’ve a tripod, even when you don’t. For those that always want to travel light, this is one of the reasons to buy the S2, which, after all, is a very accessible rig: it costs $39.99.

The S2 on its own is all you need for more stable videos with your smartphone. It is a simple handle-grip, no electronics, nothing, but it will fit in a pocket of your coat and be ready when you need it. Because it can be separated into its main components, the handle and clamp, it can fit almost anywhere. I carry the one I’ve been using in one inner pocket of my vest, fully mounted, without any problem.

Modularity is one of the main reasons why I believe that the S2 is the rig you need. In fact, Shoulderpod built the system in such a way that you can start with the S2 and grow all the way to the top of the line X1. The S2 is the bare bones of the system, and it will be enough for most needs and for when you want to travel light. But if you want, for example, to use external sound and need a microphone, then the P2 short plate will allow to add a microphone to your rig and still have a pocketable solution. The P2 short plate can also be used, alternatively, to add extra light to your rig, in the shape of a small LED panel, with the Manfrotto Lumimuse being, probably, a good solution.

Shoulderpod S2, all the smartphone rig you need

The P2 short plate was sent to me together with the S2, so I had the chance to try it. With the P2 added, the S2 starts to look like the R2, which is Shoulderpod’s next step in terms of rigs: the Pocket Rig. The P2 and other elements needed for the modular progression are not available to buy, but a brief contact with Shoulderpod’s confirmed that “more options will be available soon” with the end of April as the probable launch date. As Manfrotto is distributing the Shoulderpod products now, expect to see the system, with the new options, at NAB 2017, this April.

The S2 is every bit as versatile as expected. With the grip it works as a better way to use your smartphone for video and even photography, as it offers you a way to hold it safely with a single hand, so as to operate controls with the other. The G1 clamp itself can be attached to a tripod, making it an ideal support to use a smartphone, and doubles as a table stand. And when using a small tripod, if you need extra height, you can add the grip H1 to the G1 and still have a stable platform. Whichever way you need to use it, the S2 seems to work.

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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…