I’ll wager that the part about off-camera flash that photographers hate the most is the connection between the Speedlite and the lightstand. Yes, I’m talking about you, Mr. Coldshoe. Either you’re made of metal (which can short out the pins on the bottom of my flash) or you’re made of plastic (which means that I’ll strip your threads eventually).
Meet the frio™ — an ingeniously designed coldshoe from the makers of the orbis™ ringflash adapter. For me, it was love at first sight. Upstairs, the frio™ is durable plastic — which means that the pins on my Speedlite’s foot are safe. Downstairs the frio™ has a robust 1/4-20 metal socket that I’m thinking will stand up to any amont of torque that I choose to apply when tightening it down to my grip gear.
The frio™ is designed for the safety of Speedlights. As you can see at left, from the side, the frio™ resembles the Starship Enterprise (o.k., you might have to squint to see it). The long aft deck is there to provide another of the frio’s unique features: a pop-up clip that will keep your flash from sliding out accidentally (see below for comments on a small issue when used with Canon EX II Speedlites.)
The top of the frio™ has a recessed well into which the locking pin of a Nikon Speedlight will drop. This provides yet another layer of security against your flash tumbling out of the coldshoe. To my eyes, as a Canonista, the well is just a bit too far back to catch the pin of a Canon Speedlite. I’m not concerned about this in the least. Canon’s locking pin is spring loaded, so it is out of the way when in cannot find a compatible socket — which is what happens when you use a generic coldshoe anyway. When the locking collar (EX models) or locking arm (EX II models) is tightened, my Speedlite is not going to disconnect anyway.
The front of the frio™ has three loops molded into the body. So, if you like to keep your kit tied together, the frio™ will fit right in. Another option would be to keep a gaggle of frios™ linked together with a thin, snap ring — like keys on the belt of a janitor. Also, if you look way below, you’ll see a pic of how I’m using the loops. Yes, I think of the frio™ as a cool, new toy. So I want to have it in my pocket all day.
After the demo model of the frio™ arrived from New Zealand a few days ago, I’ve put it to a variety of tasks on shoots for my Speedliter’s Handbook. Despite the small design issues that I discuss above and below, I’m enthusiastically a fan. The frio™ is robust, quick to use, and has no small parts that will get lost. When the frio™ starts distribution later this fall, I will likely discard all the metal coldshoes in my bags and replace them with an army of frios™.
So what about availability? Good things come to those of us who wait. Fortunately we won’t have to wait long. I’m told that the frio™ will start shipping soon. For more specifics, check out the official frio site (here).
Canonistas: The frio™ is great. But it’s not perfect. Yet.
If your Speedlite has a weather-seal around the base, as Canon’s 580EX II does, then you’ll find that the back edge of the weather-seal rubs on the deck — making it more difficult to use with Canon’s newest generation of Speedlites. Also, as you can see above, the frio’s clip will not pop up after an EX II is positioned. If the clip was just a bit farther back, it would pop up as it does normally.
A couple of fixes come to mind for the EX II shooters. First, you can pull the weather-seal off the EX II. Then the Speedlite will slide in without issue and the clip will pop up. I’m not going to be doing this. Rather, I’ll keep the weather-seal in place and modify the frio™ by snipping off the back deck. Heresy! I know. But, modding the frio™ this way will give me what I desire most in a coldshoe: a robust connection to the lightstand and a non-conducting base for the Speedlite. Frankly, I’d love it just as much if it came without the back deck and clip in the first place.
The other thing I’d like to see in a future frio™ is yellow, or orange, or red. I’m told that “gunmetal blue” was selected for the original version because it’s non-reflective and it’s not black. For me, I don’t have an issue with my grip gear reflecting light into my shots. I do have serious issues with losing little dark-colored objects into the recesses of my gear bags. I carry my AA batteries in yellow caddies for the very same reason.
The folks at enlight photo have said that they’d consider adding a colored version in the future. So, IF YOU AGREE, add a comment below.
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