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When shooting with flash attached, I sometimes hold the DSLR with my left hand like this:

enter image description here

Am I at risk of damaging the hotshoe, given that weight of the DSLR and the lens is approximately 50 oz. (1 400 g)?

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    The dimensions of camera accessory shoes are specified in ISO 518:2006; however, this standard does not mention any maximum permissible mechanical load. – Loong Nov 20 '16 at 17:29
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    I can not imagine an industries selling these woodencamera.com/images/products/16094.jpg to be successful without a rigid hot shoe – PlasmaHH Nov 20 '16 at 19:52
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    @PlasmaHH But anyone can certainly imagine that such products made to connect to the camera's hot shoe may, in fact, be much stronger than the flashes one might attach to the camera's hot shoe. – Michael C Nov 20 '16 at 22:52
  • Interesting question! I also sometimes hold the camera indirectly by the flash; the way I do it is for mostly for carrying it elsewhere, with the lens looking downward. My hand is then opposite of the way in your photo. And since it is pointing down, most of the weight actually goes through the pointy part where the internal flash is. So I think this might be a bit better on the flash (maybe? ^^). Anyway, I also always have a wriststrap attached, so the camera is safe from falling. But I’ll try to avoid the camera like that now—but habits die hard… :/ – poke Nov 21 '16 at 7:57
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    @MichaelClark: indeed, though the question is specifically about damaging the hotshoe – PlasmaHH Nov 21 '16 at 8:14
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May I hold the DSLR in part by the hotshoe flash?

Yes, you may.

Your attached photo perfectly demonstrates that you can hold the camera in this way.

Will so holding my camera result in any unpleasant consequences?

More than likely it will.

In most cases the weakest link will be the part of the flash that connects to the camera's hot shoe. It's designed to support the weight of the flash and perhaps a small modifier attached to the flash pushing against the connection. It is not designed to support the weight of a much heavier camera and lens pulling away from that connection.

The first case requires compressive strength combined from all parts of the flash's connecter sufficient to bear the load of the flash's weight. If the camera is held in "portrait" position it also requires shear strength, but only enough to support the weight of the flash assuming the camera is being held by the photographer.

The grip illustrated in your question, on the other hand, requires tensile strength of the small parts of the flash's connector on the opposite side of the ground rails on the camera's hot shoe sufficient to bear the load of the weight of the camera and lens. If the camera is turned to portrait position it also requires shear strength sufficient to support the torque placed on it by the weight of the camera and lens.

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    So not everybody speaks English as a first language. That's no reason to spend three paragraphs being snarky about it. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 21 '16 at 19:59
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    Someone has no sens of humor today – Olivier Nov 21 '16 at 21:17
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Like previously stated here by others, the shoe on most camera is pretty stable. However, the bottom of the flash is not as strong and you could very easily break it off. There was a co-work of mine at a paper whose whole bottom of the flash broke off just from holding his camera that way. He was fortunate that his D3 and 80-200/2.8 landed on top of a pad and didn't break.

  • indeed. I wouldn't hold the camera by the flash, though using a hand to stabilise it while on a tripod while adjusting by holding the flash can be a good idea (as it can be quite top heavy). – jwenting Nov 21 '16 at 7:43
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You are not holding the camera by the flash. You're holding in between them.

By putting your fingers between camera and flash, you're exerting extra pressure to separate those two, so the force on the hotshoe is actually greater than the weight of the lower part alone. Usually, you're not adding much, but eg if you think the camera starts slipping away, you'll instinctively tighten the grip and then you may break the plastic flash mount or cause it to detach. In this case you'll end up gripping the now empty space which means both the flash and the camera will hit the ground. enter image description here

I understand that the small "neck" formed by the flash mount is comfortable to place your hand around, but you should hold either the camera or the flash and not the point between them.

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Am I at risk of damaging the hotshoe, given that weight of the DSLR and the lens is approximately 50 oz. (1 400 g)?

The shoe itself on most cameras seems sturdy enough that it'd probably take more than the 3 lbs of force at play here to bend it, but you should keep in mind that the shoe isn't really meant for suspending the camera. I don't think you'll bend the shoe, but I'd be concerned about the way that the shoe is attached to the camera body. The foot on the speedlight and the way it's attached to the speedlight are other things to be concerned about.

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I wouldn't ever hold it by the flash unless I had the strap round my neck or wrapped round my wrist -- the flash could slip out of the hotshoe quite easily (if the locking screw isn't guaranteed to be tight).

I'd also impose a cutoff of about 1kg -- so I'd hold the 350D with plastic kit lens by the flash (that I keep in my desk drawer for documenting stuff in work), but not the 40D with either the macro lens or the long lens. Note that while the 350D is essentially valueless, it's very useful, so if I broke it it would cost me real money. There's no science to the 1kg, it's just an arbitrary line drawn between light and heavy. The torque exerted by a long lens doesn't help the stresses on the plastic either.

By my rule of thumb your kit is too heavy to hold by the flash.

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This is a broken off flash foot. Image of broken off flash foot It's actually a cold foot since this particular flash foot relied on an external sync connection: an actual hot foot will tend to be mechanically weaker because of needing to support the electrical connections.

Now this particular damage was not while lifting the camera on the flash but by dropping a camera bag containing a camera with mounted flash in sand because the camera bag belt slipped from the shoulder (always keep your neck in between).

But the weakest link gave way here. Now even while losing a flash is less annoying than losing the camera, holding the camera like you show on your picture will not limit the damage to the flash foot. The camera (and the way you hold it in the picture, the flash itself) will smash to the ground as a consequence.

I'd strongly recommend changing your handling habits before you get such an incentive explicitly.

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