When you need to place a flashgun in an unusual spot, it might turn out to be difficult. A company called Frio offers a solution. Although it is not the only solution on the market, it is perhaps a great one. I tried the Frio Hold to find out.
They call it the only cold shoe you can trust. The Frio Hold is basically another cold shoe that allows you to use your flashgun at a location other than your camera's hot shoe. So why is it different from the other cold shoes available on the market?
The system that Frio offers is based on the Frio Hold, a small piece of molded polymer that can be mounted with a 1/4 inch or a 3/8 inch thread. It can be connected directly to a tripod, light stand, or video rig. Your flashgun or other device is held in place by a locking system; Simple and effective.
The Frio Hold is part of a modular system that offers a wide variety of accessories to place a flash or any other hot shoe gear at any location. The Frio Hold is just the cold shoe. You need to combine it with one of the other accessories from the Frio system to get the most out of it.
The Frio Hold, Frio Stand, and Frio Arch
The Frio Hold is a simple cold shoe and it works nicely. There is nothing more to it. Some flashes like the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT are designed to make the mount weather resistant. The rubber seal makes it a bit more difficult to attach and detach the flash onto the Frio Hold. The Profoto A1 flash without a rubber seal is easier to attach and detach.
The flash is securely fixed but the Frio Hold offers not much flexibility in itself. You can attach it to a tripod or light stand, but that’s it. The Frio Stand is the Frio Hold fitted onto a small adapter with a 5/8 inch connection. Still, the Frio Stand has no way of pointing the flash in any way other than straight forward, besides the tilted flash head possibility itself. If you need more flexibility, you need the Frio Arch.
The Frio Arch is a cold shoe setup with a small ball head. It can be attached to a 1/4 inch mount and allows you to direct the flash in any direction. It’s basically a mini ball head with the Frio Stand connected to it. I think the Frio Arch is the minimum setup you need for any flexibility.
The Frio Grasp Mini and Grasp Bigi
It becomes more interesting when the Frio Arch is combined with the Grasp Mini or Grasp Bigi. These clamps are low profile and allow you to attach your device to any round or flat surface. And it works great. The third contact point allows a secure mounting on anything round. Use a pole, railing, table edge, or whatever is available.
The Grasp Bigi is the bigger version of the Grasp Mini. It also has a nice third contact point which is essential for stability. You should be able to use it as a mini tripod, but with a heavy flash I wouldn’t trust it that much.
There is one thing you need to be aware of. The connection between the Frio Arch and the Clamp itself can become loose when a flash is placed at a 90-degree angle. The weight of the flash is enough to unscrew the Frio Arch. If possible, rotate the clamp 180 degrees so the weight is with the screw thread. This way it will stay fixed.
The Frio Cling
If a flash needs to be placed near a mirror, window, or any other nonporous surface, the Frio Cling may come in handy. It’s a suction cup with a vacuum pump that secures the Frio Cling amazingly well. The pump has a visual indicator so you know it’s secured.
I used it on a few nonporous surfaces and it works great. It stayed secured for many hours, so it seems trustworthy. Again, the Frio Arch is attached to the Cling, and if the flash is at an angle, make sure the weight is with the screw thread.
Is the Frio Hold the Best Cold Shoe or Not?
There are many cold shoe solutions available. The Frio Hold is just another one and I think it is a simple but effective one. Frio states it’s the best cold shoe ever, though that may be difficult to prove. One thing's for sure, it holds your gear very well, but you need to use it in combination with one of the other Frio products for maximum flexibility. Although the Frio Hold may be the best cold shoe, if it’s not connected securely to the other products, it may still fail you.
Up until now, I used a swivel cold shoe adapter that fixes my flash with a screw knob. That works perfectly, although you have to be careful not to tighten the screw too much. It’s a versatile system, that allows me to attach the swivel to a light stand, tripod, or a super clamp.
The Frio Hold is much easier and faster in use. You just have to slide the flash in, and it’s secure. But you’re not done with the Frio Hold alone. It only becomes a versatile system if you have the Frio Arch, Grasp Mini, or Grasp Bigi. That may prove a significant investment altogether. It’s something to be aware of. If you’re fine with the investment, the Frio system may be a great one to use.
What I Liked
- Secure mount
- Flexible system
- Well-designed clamps
- Low profile
What I Didn’t Like
- Weight of flash can unscrew the Frio Arch
- Third contact point makes attachment Grasp Bigi more difficult
- Grasp Bigi is not stable enough for use as mini tripod
- Expensive if you need the full flexibility of the Frio system