A basic understanding of your camera can be useful, especially if you’ve ever considered venturing out of automatic mode. Every month I’ll share a tip, or (as in this case) tell you what that thing on your camera is. More importantly, I’ll explain how, when, and why it’s used.
While working in the camera department of a big box electronics store, my sister was asked a question by a customer. Ever helpful, she was quick with an answer. The customer in question, looking to buy a higher end camera, asked her what a hot shoe was. Without blinking, my sister began to explain it was an internal fan which aided in keeping the internal workings of the camera at an optimal operating temperature. Impressed with her knowledge, the customer bought the camera. Later, when she called to ask me what a hot shoe was (and to recount what she said), I couldn’t help but laugh. Nope, not even close.
Today we’re talking shoes. There are two types of shoes, a hot shoe and a cold shoe. Simply put, a shoe is a type of connection. A hot shoe means the connection is live (sending and receiving information between your camera and what you’ve attached to it via the hot shoe), whereas a cold shoe is akin to an accessory mount (meaning what you’ve attached to the cold shoe isn’t communicating through the cold shoe). Despite what my sister told that poor customer, the hot shoe isn’t inside your camera. If it has one, and mind you not all cameras do, it’s on the top of your camera (look for two parallel brackets in which something can slide into). One of the most common ways a hot shoe is used is by connecting an external flash to your camera. Once you connect an external flash to your camera, and turn both on, the flash will fire when you take a photo. Great if you need more light directed at your subject. Now, if you need light in an area that can’t be reached if your flash is directly connected to your camera, you can attach it to a cold shoe and place the flash where you need more light (keep in mind you will need to fire the flash remotely, which I will address at a later time). With that, I hope you have a basic understanding of what hot and cold shoes are!
Terri Johnson, Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography
The Right Angle Matters