It’s a straightforward little device but may appeal to some photographers using more advanced cameras — we’re talking about the Flash Dock, a new hot shoe smartphone dock that enables easy access to a number of apps designed to help improve your photography and add functionality to your camera set-up. But is it really a helpful photographic accessory or merely a simple smartphone holder that allows you to speak hands-free or play a game of Draw Something while you wait for your subject to strike the right pose? You be the judge.
Developed by France-based Pocket Demo, founder Bruno Rousseau explained the idea behind Flash Dock. “There are a number of apps dedicated to help photographers. Unfortunately, we tend to use them only once, as it is not practical to hold a DSLR and a smartphone at the same time,” he said.
“Flash Dock solves that issue by bringing the touchscreen of the smartphone right next to the DSLR setting screen and buttons….and the possibilities are endless.”
So what possibilities does he speak of? Pocket Demo’s website suggests that having your phone fixed to the top of your camera makes it super simple to get the best out of a wireless Eye-Fi SD card, for example, allowing for the quick and easy sharing of photos by email or via cloud services.
It also opens up the possibility for easy geotagging. Many snappers want to tag the spot where they take a photo, but most cameras are still not equipped with GPS functionality — unlike smartphones. GPS data from a phone either be transmitted to the camera via Bluetooth or later be merged with a photo’s metadata using the appropriate software.
Pocket Demo also suggests using a ‘level’ app for shots when you want to have a perfectly straight frame. You could utilize a light metering app too, a depth of field calculator, or even fire up your smartphone’s mic app if you need to record some audio — hopefully with better results than those offered by a DSLR’s often substandard built-in mic.
Of course, with many of these apps, it’s perfectly possible to just hold the phone in your hand and use it as you normally would. The makers of Flash Dock, however, suggest photographers will find it useful to have the phone atop the camera, freeing up a hand in the process and doing away with the need for endless dives into your pocket every time you need to use it. This may be true, but is it worth its $40 price tag?