The Frio cold shoe (opposite: hot shoe) looks like a little piece of plastic, nothing much to write about, let alone review. Yet, this humble piece of kit is a little gem if you're using a camera flash, a video field monitor and even a microphone with a hot shoe interface. I purchased a 5-pack to try them out and this is what I found.
Enlight Photo is the company behind the Orbis ringflash adapter. It's also the "inventor" of the Frio cold shoe. The Frio that I received is Frio v2, the second generation. Having nearly lost a camera flash to a common cold shoe (a Kaiser cold shoe, which isn't even cheap at 15 EUR a piece) I purchased a pack of them to see if the marketing message is consistent with real-world experience.
Mounting your flash off-camera is common practice with strobists and studio photographers alike. You buy yourself a nice flash stand and attach the camera flash to the stand using a cold shoe. The cold shoe can be anything from a plastic thingy like the Kaiser one that almost cost me a LumoPro LP160, to a metal quick release type plate that you tighten the flash onto using a screw.
The problem with all of these traditional systems is that once you release the screw or the flash lock, your speedlight is no longer secure. One wrong move and gravity takes over.
The Frio defies gravity as long as it is fixed to the stand. To that effect, a Frio has a flat, rather broad safety pin that prevents a camera flash from unseating itself and falling. To mount your flash, you slide its hot shoe over the pin. To take off your flash, you need to push the slip down with your thumb so the flash's hot shoe can pass over it. It takes some reassuring force to do this.
The Frio is moulded from what looks like strong and durable plastic that will allegedly only break when sudden force (like your light stand falling over) is applied. I didn't test that.
The plastic is moulded in such a way that it has a recessed locking pin cavity designed to accept all male flash mounts (which rules out Sony flashes only), including LumoPro's new LP180 with its rubber locking base. This adds to the Frio's length, making it stand out from the crowd.
The Frio v2 comes with a dual mounting thread: the metal 3/8 inch thread that is moulded into the Frio's base has an extra quarter inch thread converter that you can easily remove — or fasten really tight with a screwdriver. It turns the Frio into a universal cold shoe that doesn't require you to buy light stands at all.
You can use it with any stand that has a 3/8 or quarter inch mounting screw. I personally mounted the Frio v2 on a large microphone stand (don't ask me why), directly on a regular tripod and on a quick release plate.
Once the Frio sits tight there's nothing that can happen to the equipment you mount, even if you forget to lock the device's hot shoe. It won't fall off, all it will do is wiggle.
The icing on the cake is the slot at one side of the Frio that you can use to hang a PocketWizard from, or to attach the Frio itself to a stand so you won't lose it.
The Frio v2 isn't cheap if you buy only one (approx. 20 EUR), but if you buy a 5-pack the price drops dramatically (approx. 8 EUR a piece). Given that most of us have several hot shoe/cold shoe mount devices in our photo/video bag, the 5-pack is the best deal. I'm glad I've bought them.