- Ed Dozier
A Full-Time Bubble Level on Your Camera
Photographers are familiar with tripod heads with bubble levels on them, and some camera models offer virtual horizon features. But have you heard of a level for your camera that’s always available, even when your camera is turned off?
I found out about a little bubble level that fits into my rarely-used camera hot shoe. If I use artificial lighting, it’s nearly always off-camera; my camera hot shoe just sits idle. Now, my hot shoe has made itself useful.
Bubble level in a Nikon Z9 hot shoe
Bubble level end view
The bubble levels on my tripod heads often make me have to crouch down and move side-to-side to see them. Having the information right on the top of the camera is much more convenient.
The bubble levels I got are from a company called Fire Rock, and they are sold in 3-packs. They fit standard hot shoes, such as Canon, Nikon, Fuji, and Olympus. They’re made out of a firm rubber, so they’re not brittle. They slip easily into the hot shoe, without any tendency to fall off. Several other companies offer them, but I suspect they all come from one source.
These levels are totally cheap (less than $2.50 each) and don’t get in the way.
The obvious question is: “Are they accurate?” For the levels that I got, the answer is “yes”. I used a 4-foot carpenter’s level to verify that a tabletop was level, and then placed my camera bodies onto the table. I verified that the bubbles were centered when mounted in the hot shoes.
There are often occasions when you need to place your camera at a really low level, below what you could obtain with a tripod. With a top-mounted level like these, you can still manage to get properly levelled shots.
It's never a good idea to leave your camera hot shoe unprotected. This little bubble level can work double-duty to protect the hot shoe from damage.
These levels seem like such a great idea that I just had to pass the word along about them.