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Product Review – Dixie Grip: Rotating, handheld, or mounted hotshoe grip

What is it?

The Dixie Grip

The Dixie Grip is a product that doesn’t exist yet. It’s a Kickstarter campaign product, and it fills a gap in the street portrait world that desperately needs filling – a handheld Speedlite grip.
Don’t believe there is a need for this kind of thing? Case in point: just days after trying the product out and thinking about whether I would have a need for it or not, I was walking with my mentor Payam in New York talking about photography. He was describing to me an engagement session he was shooting in Central Park. He was using a Canon Speedlite with a remote trigger, and his assistant had the flash on a monopod with a softbox mounted onto the unit. The reason for this crazy handheld setup is that having off-camera flash with a softbox is like having a portable studio wherever you go! And having an assistant hold it allows for great flexibility in movement. But there is a problem with this setup. It’s a workaround. The monopod is not an ideal piece of equipment for a Speedlite. It’s awkward, too long, and not ergonomically friendly. That’s where the Dixie Grip comes into play.

What does it do? What’s it good for?

This piece of equipment replaces the light stand with something much more flexible – your hands! Yes, you can mount the grip onto a light stand, but the best part is having the mobility and freedom of using it with your hands. As far as I know, there is no other thing out there that does that, exactly like this. And it holds an umbrella. It’s an ergonomic solution to the mobile problem of traveling light and easy. As my mentor was saying, his assistant was doing the same thing but with a monopod or a tripod, holding the whole awkward kit in their hands. That rig is unwieldy, heavy, and awkward. The Dixie Grip was created for exactly that situation, a light, perfectly sized grip for Speedlites. It’s so simple, it’s amazing it hasn’t been done before.The last part of the product which is pretty slick is that it is adjustable. You can “rotate” the head by simply squeezing these two units together and moving the Speedlite or umbrella up or down. This give you the ability to work with different angles.

How I used it

The Dixie Grip

I brought the Dixie Grip with me to the lakeside with my cousin when I didn’t have an umbrella, and we played around with the equipment to get a feel for it. I made him the assistant and the model. The feel of it was easy enough to use, and since we were standing on sand we didn’t have to worry about getting sand on light stands or moving things around on uneven ground. He just got to hold the grip and it worked exactly as expected.

The Dixie Grip

I got back to the city and was able to use the Dixie Grip with an umbrella which is how it is best used. As you can see in the photos, the light looks great, it’s smooth, and best of all, we could shoot in very tight quarters without maneuvering an awkward tripod stand or monopod.

The Dixie Grip

The Dixie Grip


In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this product if you shoot on location in different conditions. I could see this being a tremendous asset to a wedding photographer who needs to run and gun with their bride and groom for a quick formal session. I could also see this on the streets of NY with a model in the city. There is no reason not to own one of these. It’s intuitive and easy and it works.

The only drawbacks I found were when I tried using my cheap Yongnuo triggers to fit into the hotshoe. They don’t have tightening rings and just sit on whatever they are attached to. The hotshoe mount on the Dixie Grip was a bit too large for the trigger, so the trigger would slide out easy (which isn’t great when the Speedlite is attached to it). But that was an easy fix with a couple of pieces of cardboard. Or just use normal equipment like a Pocket Wizard and you’ll be fine.

Adjusting the head by squeezing those two pieces together, and moving the Speedlite, was slightly awkward. It didn’t always click into place right away. But I was also using a prototype which I know has some kinks to be smoothed out yet. I expect that component to be rock solid when it comes to production. Which is where you come in!

Kick Starter Campaign for The Dixie Grip

This is the link to the product. The campaign ends July 28th, so help put this thing on the market, and be the very first person to own a Dixie Grip.

I give the Dixie Grip product 4.5 stars out of 5.

The Dixie Grip
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Phillip Van Nostrand
Phillip Van Nostrand

built his photography business in Santa Barbara, CA and New York City, where he has shot over 140 weddings, countless head shots, and events for the past 9 years. Currently living in NY, he manages to travel abroad at least once a year and is up to 30 countries traveled. Published in the New York Times, Huffington Post, New York Times Magazine, featured in Santa Barbara Dining and Destinations Magazine, Cretus Mag, and San Diego Style Weddings magazine. You can connect with him on his blog and on instagram.

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