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Gear Review: Hot Shoe Bubble Level

April 1, 2010

The single most important piece of equipment carried by any respectable landscape photographer is the venerable hot shoe bubble level.  I’ve used one for years.  More than any other tool it has saved my bacon time and time again.  Here is a thorough review of this masterpiece of high technology design.

The hot shoe bubble level was designed for photographers who just can’t keep their horizons straight.  Sure, the architectural grid you see in your viewfinder can help but nothing says “level” like a little bubble sitting squarely in the center of a circle.  Oh, so you’re a Canon 7D owner and you use the fancy schmancy digital level that Canon has been so kind to include?  What are you gonna do when your battery dies?  Then what?  That’s what I thought!  You’re totally out of luck.  Not me.  I’ll be standing proud with my camera perfectly level.  And if you drop your 7D in a rushing creek, how will that electronic level work?  Not so good, sucker.  Not so good at all.  I’ll just fish out my little analog hot shoe bubble level and keep pluggin’ along.  Hot shoe bubble level saves the day!

It is true that these little marvels cost between $19.00 and $30.00 – not cheap for a piece of acrylic with an embedded dual axis bubble level.  Think of all the time you’ll save rotating images in Photoshop, though.  Not to mention the time and labor it will take to learn the complicated process of rotating and leveling an image using software.

What about other uses?  Yes, you can remove the hot shoe bubble level from it’s home and use it for myriad other purposes.  Got a roof top tent on your SUV?  Use the hot shoe bubble level to get your vehicle on perfectly level ground and you’ll never roll off your sleeping pad again.  Don’t want to dig around in your toolbox to level off the picture frame?  Dig around in your photo pack instead!  Just think of all the uses for it!

In summary, the hot shoe bubble level is without a doubt the most important piece of equipment carried in my backpack.  Be sure to include one in your pack and you’ll be a better photographer in no time.  Oh, and Happy April Fools Day!

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 2, 2010 4:19 am

    Hey Brret!
    I have to admit that the bubble level is one of the most used little nifty things of my bag, I used to loose a few pixels because of not perfect straight horizons until I decided to buy me a hot shoe bubble level!
    I believe that should have been my first buy from the day I started! Helpful quick in its use and perfect for your straight compositions!
    I went for a cheap Hong Kong though (plenty of them in ebay) and got me a few more which I passed to a view friends, they all work perfectly, so you can always go the cheap road for this kind of stuff! 🙂

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