The ShiftCam ProGrip addresses a bit of an issue with camera phones. The latest and best camera phones are pretty good at stills photography and extremely good at video – especially run and gun style immersive content. The issue is that camera phones are slippery little devils designed to slip in and out of your pocket, not give you a firm grip in your fist.
There’s another issue. If you turn up to a semi-serious video shoot or even clutching a smartphone, it’s pretty difficult to get taken seriously, especially if you have picky clients who need to be impressed.
The ShiftCam ProGrip tackles both issues. First, it gives you a really good, ergonomic grip for your phone; second, it looks like nothing else you (or your clients) have seen. It subtly elevates your smartphone into a serious recording tool.
The ProGrip has a pair of spring-loaded jaws that can accommodate a range of phone sizes. It’s worth stressing that it’s not in itself a phone case – but the jaws will go wide enough to take even an iPhone 13 Pro Max either in or out of a case. If your phone is a lot smaller, there are bumper bars you can insert in the jaws to narrow the gap, and little rubber stoppers to offer a better grip for curved-edged phones.
The jaws have a neat party trick – a simple 90-degree pivot so that you can switch quickly between landscape and portrait shooting. Turning the phone to portrait mode reveals to small buttons in the ProGrip case for Bluetooth connection and wireless charging.
You only need to set up the Bluetooth connection once. After that, the shutter button on the front of the ProGrip will operate the camera in the same way as its on-screen shutter/record button. The Bluetooth button is still useful if you need to use a different device or reset the connection for any reason.
If you still find wireless charging pretty uncanny in itself, the ProGrip will amaze you even further. You have to align your phone’s charging pad with its counterpart on the ProGrip and there are instructions and an alignment template for this – though our iPhone 13 Pro Max is so large that it doesn’t really offer any scope for movement; the pads nevertheless line up fine.
After that, you just press the little button on the ProGrip to start charging your phone. If you were expecting something more complicated, well, that’s it.
The ProGrip’s charging system is very interesting. We’re told that the grip has enough power, roughly, for a full phone charge, but there’s a bit more to it than that. The ProGrip has a USB Type C power delivery port, so you can charge the ProGrip from a power bank and the ProGrip can charge your phone at the same time. If you don’t have a phone with wireless charging, you can also use the USB port and a cable to send power to your phone directly.
What else? There’s a tripod socket in the base of the grip and a threaded accessory socket in the top for adding on mics, lights or other gadgets directly or, if they use a hotshot mount, you can use the coldshoe adaptor provided.
Build and handling
The ProGrip is not exactly small but the payback is the really solid, secure grip it gives you. The included hand strap adds even more security, though you can always detach it if you find it gets in the way.
The shutter release is ideally placed under your right forefinger and makes it much easier to take a picture or start recording than tapping on the screen – though you can still do that if you prefer.
Fitting a phone feels slightly unsatisfactory – the jaws have a rather stiff, notch feel – but once the phone is in there it’s gripped really well. It doesn’t slide or wobble it’s not going to fall out.
ShiftCam also pitches the ProGrip as a kind of desktop docking station. This sounded a bit of a stretch – until we were shown how the angle on the side of the grip makes a perfect angled platform for a desktop stand, and the 90-degree rotation means your phone can be either vertical or horizontal, for checking messages or watching videos, say.
We did notice the grip getting warm as it pumped power into our iPhone, but not excessively so.
Annoyingly, though, while the ProGrip does also come with a rather nice soft-touch semi-rigid case, it’s only big enough for the grip itself – you’ll have to take your phone off first.
Attaching a tripod head to the base of the grip can be a bit fiddly too, as the strap mounting plate comes away when you remove it, so you have to detach that from the tripod and re-attach it to the grip. You may find some tripod screws just a fraction too long for the thread on the grip too, so that they don’t quite tighten the head on firmly.
If you’re serious about capturing content with your smartphone, the ShiftCam ProGrip has got to be worth a look for several reasons. First, it gives you a much better grip for shooting or video. Second, it will charge your phone on the go and let you shoot for a lot longer – and you can top it up from a power bank. Third, the tripod and accessory sockets turn it into a useful little mobile mini-rig. Fourth, if this kind of thing matters in your work, it makes you and your phone look like you really know what you’re doing.
It would be nice if the ProGrip was a little cheaper, and if you could fit it in the case with a phone attached, but these are not major issues. The ShiftCam ProGrip is such a good, effective, practical and useful accessory that we can easily forgive it a couple of foibles.