The Flash Dock from Pocket Demo is a DSLR hot shoe device that physically connects your iPhone (or other smartphone) to your DSLR camera, boosting the IQ of the latter by some margin. To what end? With the right apps, a smartphone can be paired with a DSLR for numerous purposes: picture sharing, geotagging photographs, vibration monitoring and sound recording among them. Perhaps most useful to dedicated photographers (and if you have a DSLR, there's a good chance this is you) are light meter and depth of field calculator apps.
Flash Dock plays no active part in the functioning of any of these apps - and you don't need a Flash Dock to make use of them - but by mounting your smartphone above the camera, the idea is that it provides ready access at all times, without having to worry about pockets, stands, spare hands etc. when you do need to poke the screen. The Flash Dock does not carry a single byte of data between your devices.
"We first introduced the Flash-Dock at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas in January 2012," says Pocket Demo founder Bruno Rousseau. "The response from visitors has far exceeded our initial expectations. Following this response, we have decided to launch the product worldwide."
Though it would be disingenuous for me to imply that Flash Dock in any way increases the functionality of your DSLR/smartphone combination, in a sense this is the case. As Rousseau says, I think with some validity, "with the AppStore for iPhones, the Android market for Android devices and the marketplace for Windows-Phones, SmartPhone users have access to thousands of apps. 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."
The Flash Dock, then, is an enabling technology that at least purports to increase the usefulness of the library of photography apps already available at various app marketplaces. The smartphone can be reoriented in a variety of ways depending on the app in use at the time.
There are some points to consider about the physical practicalities of such a device. By physically tying your smartphone to your camera you're increasing the financial risk in the event that you drop your newly-wedded bundle of wonder. Pocket Demo points out that the Flash Dock has been designed to hold your smartphone "as firmly as possible," so that holding your camera upside down, or swinging it to fend off angry celebrities shouting "get off my porch" shouldn't be an issue. But Pocket Demo claims the Flash Dock has also been designed to break before your hot shoe in the event of droppage, though they cannot guarantee a happy ending for your phone or camera.
The Flash Dock is available from the product website for $US39.95, though it's worth reiterating for a final time that the product offers a physical connection between smartphone and DSLR only. Apps and additional hardware (such as Eye-Fi cards if you are interested in mobile uploads) may be required depending on your needs, and will in many cases require additional expenditure.
Product page: Flash Dock
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