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  • 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.



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