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I notice some models of cameras include a hotshoe cover as standard. But many other brands don't.

Nikon hotshoe cover

And they are available to buy as accessories, from about $1 on Ebay for a basic plastic cover. Or up to $30 for a shiny steel or wooden cover.

But is a hotshoe cover useful? What does it actually protect the hotshoe from? Is an uncovered hotshoe likely to get damaged, in regular use of the camera?

Or is the cover just for decoration, to make the camera look nicer, or add a bit of bling?

  • If you're shooting in a studio, probably not. If you're covering the Mint 400...maybe not a bad idea. – J... Jun 26 '16 at 15:31
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    FWIW, I bought a cheap hotshoe cover with a spirit level on it, and alone has proved moderately useful enough to recommend it! (Then again, I don't have the issue with the internal flash not popping up, and the annoyance of that would almost certainly outweigh the benefit of the spirit level if I did.) – berry120 Jun 27 '16 at 8:07
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In some cases, using a hotshoe cover prevents the internal flash from popping up. Many Canon models had (currently have? I don't know) a microswitch in the hotshoe rails, that sensed the presence of a flash. Of course, the hotshoe cover's geometry looks just like the foot of a flash, so the camera thought an external flash was attached, and would not pop up the internal flash.

Personally, I have once caught a shirt on my camera's hotshoe. The corner of the rail was pretty sharp, and my shirt was a loose weave. Snagged it pretty good, and made me wish I hadn't lost my hotshoe cap (I really liked that shirt). But that doesn't happen often, and I really don't worry about it.

  • Interesting, this might be why I have seen some hot-shoe covers with only one edge, perhaps not to trigger the built-in flash blocking spring. – Itai Jun 25 '16 at 23:27
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I've never used a hot shoe cover. I've shot outdoors with various cameras (Mostly Canon since the early 1990s) for several decades and never had an issue with a hot shoe that could be remotely related to not using a hot shoe cover.

In fact, the only hot shoe related issue I can remember ever having was due to one of the contact springs on an outer rail losing its "springiness" due to being depressed too long with something mounted to the hot shoe for an extended period. In that regard I would think the hot shoe cover might contribute to the problem, by keeping the spring continually compressed, rather than alleviate such a problem.

I guess there might be specific camera models where leaving the hot shoe uncovered leaves the camera vulnerable to dust and moisture finding their way inside the camera body, but I've never encountered a camera that is obviously vulnerable in this regard. After all, changing a lens on an interchangeable lens camera would be an exponentially greater risk of allowing environmental elements inside the camera.

4

The hotshoe cover is to protect the contacts in the hotshoe from any dirt or water exposure or damage that might be caused during use of the camera.

I've lost the hotshoe covers for all my cameras the first time I've used the flash, and despite using my camera out in the great outdoors a lot (around a lot of children), I've never felt like they added much protection. I would describe my use as "more aggressive than most users", and I've never managed to damage the hotshoe despite never using the cover.

If you never used a external flash unit, then it's probably worth leaving the cover on, but if you regularly fit something to the hotshoe, then I wouldn't bother, they just get in the way.

  • OTOH, if you never use an external flash, do you care if the hotshoe gets damaged? – Ross Millikan Jun 27 '16 at 3:17
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Assuming your body isn't weather-sealed, the hotshoe contacts don't need much protection as the rest of the camera would suffer before the contacts, which are easily cleaned.

I sometimes use a hotshoe cover with a built-in spirit level (neither of my cameras has a level display in the viewfinder). It's handy especially on a tripod, but keeps getting mislaid.

  • If the camera was weather-sealed, wouldn't the hotshoe contacts also be spec'd for weather tolerance? DSLRs in that market bracket rarely include a built-in flash anyway. – a CVn Jun 26 '16 at 15:42
  • This post in the thread at dpreview.com re: Canon 60D hotshoe covers has a response to the poster from Canon stating: "A hot shoe cover is really not required. The contacts are made of corrosion resistant 'stainless' steel." – scottbb Jun 26 '16 at 17:46
  • @Michael others had addressed the built in flash so I didn't mention it. But i wouldn't expect the flash contact to be less sealed than the body. However if you're going from wet outdoors to dry indoors wanting the flash, or in dusty conditions, you might want to keep the contacts clean. – Chris H Jun 26 '16 at 19:14
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    @MichaelKjörling: Even if the camera's contacts wouldn't be damaged by things like salt-spray residue, they may still need to be cleaned afterward to ensure reliable operation. Keeping them from getting dirty in the first place would avoid the need to clean them afterward. – supercat Jun 26 '16 at 19:46
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I'd recommend using some kind of hotshoe cover (even if it's not OEM) whenever possible.

On cameras without a hotshoe cover for extended periods of time, I've had external flashes fail to communicate properly with the camera, dumbly firing at full power every time I release the shutter rather than using only as much power as appropriate, because the hotshoe contacts became tarnished. I have to clean the contacts before the flash will fire correctly. This is a non-issue with camera bodies which have the hotshoe cover on when not in use.

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Yes, it is worth using a hot shoe cover.

It protects the electrical contacts and the "side rails" from damage. They can easily get "pinched" by a slight bit of impact. In some fast working environments it is time consuming, yet worth the hassle.

*I had to replace my Canon SLR Hot Shoe flash mount after my camera fell over during a long night exposure. A wind gust came up and blew over my whole rig. $135 later it is working again. From then on I used sand bags on tripods and hot shoe covers.

HOW TO.

I use a lens cap tether cord to keep track of it, right along side my lens cap. It is easy to use the double sided sticker and mount it on the cover. It keeps your cover close to the strap.

*Fyi.

Many camera stores will give you a hot shoe cover for free.

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