I really like my Sony NEX 5n but one of my biggest issues, which almost kept me from getting it, is that it does not have a hot shoe. Since the NEX 5n takes images every bit as good as my DSLR (since it has the same sensor) I certainly want to be able to use it to its full potential. Thankfully, NEX Proshop has developed a hot shoe for the 5n.
The Shadow hot shoe, in theory, will enable you to use a manual speedlite or flash trigger. You will not be able to use any TTL controlled speedlites. For me, this is a non-issue as I generally use the Ninja Wireless Flash Triggers that only support manual flashes anyway. Does the Shadow do what it claims to do? Let’s hook it up and find out.
The Shadow connects to your Sony NEX 5n via the Smart Accessory Port and is secured with a metal thumbscrew. The top of the Shadow has a metal hot shoe while a standard PC Sync port is mounted of the left side. Other than this, there are no additional features or specs as this is a rather simple device.
** Update – It has been pointed out to me that the Shadow does not feature any over voltage protection. If you use older speedlites or studio lights, the overvoltage from those can end up frying your camera. To protect against this, you can always just use wireless triggers (like the Ninja Wireless Triggers). If you are unsure if your older equipment uses a higher trigger voltage, you might want to do more research. To me, this is a non-issue because I find a flash on top of the Shadow too unstable so I will only be using the Ninja Wireless Triggers.
Given that there isn’t too much to the Shadow, there is just as little setup. Simply plug the Shadow into your Smart Accessory port and tighten it down and then attach your flash device. While there isn’t to do to the Shadow to get it to work, you do need to know how to setup your camera. Using the Shadow will require you to use Manual modes on the camera and the flash (more on this in the next section).
So far so good right? Unfortunately, its not all good. I tried putting a regular size speedlite into the hotshoe and could not get the Shadow to fire it. The problem is the weight of the flash causes the Shadow to tilt forward slightly giving an unreliable connection into the Smart Accessory port. However, this is not the fault of the Shadow, this is due to Sony’s decision to use this totally non-standard port and not provide a standard hot shoe. While you really can’t use a good sized speedlite, where the Shadow shines is when used with off-camera flash. Putting a Ninja Wireless Flash Trigger transmitter into the Shadow is just about a perfect combination. The Ninja Wireless Flash Trigger weighs almost nothing so it does not put too much weight onto the Shadow. With the Ninja Wireless Flash Triggers I can now use off-camera speedlites or studio strobes.
There are two main things you need to keep in mind when considering the Shadow. First off, you need to understand exposure. With manual flash, you cannot use any of the automatic modes, you will need to have the camera in manual mode and manually set your flash power. Again, this is something I am very comfortable with but for some people, this could be a problem. The second issue is that the LCD will display what it thinks the exposure is going to be, which may be completely black so focusing can be a real struggle.
The Shadow costs $79.99 which feels a little steep considering there isn’t much to it. I’m sure most of this cost is in the tooling and wiring to connect to the Sony Smart Accessory port. However, if you want to use speedlites or studio strobes with your NEX 5n, you really have no other choices today. In the end, the Shadow works and if you need the functionality, at least there is a solution available.
NEX Proshop $79.99 [Website Link]