I was recently introduced to the integration of DSLR cameras and smartphones. There are a few advantages to mounting a phone to a hot shoe. New applications such as Facebook Live and Periscope necessitate the need for multiple devices to shoot photos or videos of the same subject simultaneously. Then there are useful applications such as the level app to ensure that your camera is level when shooting the photo. You need to mount the smartphone to your camera to do this. That’s where hot shoe mounts come into play.
Most hot shoe mounts use a similar technique to mount to attach to a DSLR camera. The top of the camera is where the hot shoe flash attachment is located. Hot shoe mounts have a square flat plate which fits into the flash attachment. That flat plate is attached to a mount, usually with a tripod type of screw. There is a cradle attached which expands wide enough to hold your smartphone or Apple iPhone.
Now you might be asking if this can also be done for a tablet. Technically yes. However, in my opinion, the mount that is necessary makes your camera top-heavy and difficult to handle. It’s also going to be heavier than a typical hot shoe attachment is built to handle. While I have seen some mounts out there that can do this, I am avoiding them for these reasons. If looking to integrate a tablet with a DSLR camera, use a tripod and attach the tablet to one of the legs.
Now let’s look at some hot shoe mounts for smartphones. You will likely use your phone in landscape mode when mounted to a DSLR camera but these mounts can accommodate portrait as well.
The Arkon Camera Hot Shoe Phone Mount fits almost any smartphone including the extra-large Apple iPhone 6s Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. The expandable cradle opens to 3.6″ wide so a case or skin on your phone will fit fine. The mount is exactly what you want in terms of low profile as it’s only 1.4″ high. Anything too high is going to become awkward on a DSLR camera. The cradle will swivel into landscape or portrait. This is a great mount for this purpose and is the one in the photo that accompanies this article.
An interesting variation of the prior mount is the Arkon Camera Hot Shoe Magnetic Phone Mount. Unlike many hot shoe mounts, this one uses a magnetic holder instead of a cradle. You get an adhesive metal plate that can be attached to the back of your smartphone or the back of a protective case. That metal will attach to the round front of this mount which has a magnet. Installation and removal is quite simple. Just hold it up to the mount and it will adhere to the magnet. While I personally prefer the prior mount with the cradle for the purpose of mounting to a hot shoe, these mounts are a nice option for those looking to simplify attachment and mounting bulk.
A heavier duty hot shoe alternative is the iShot Pro Universal Smartphone Mount for Hot Shoes. It’s a metal mount with a plastic expandable cradle to fit almost all smartphones with or without a case or skin. The cradle expands to 3.25 inches so will fit most smartphones except those that are extremely wide due to a thick case. Be sure to measure your phone before considering this one.
A nice added feature of these mounts is the ability to remove the hot shoe adapter and attach these to a common tripod. This permits your smartphone to be attached to any tripod. Great for Periscope, Facebook Live or Facetime.