Camera Parts: Flash Shoe
When it comes to camera parts, a flash shoe is found on practically every SLR camera. It is a metal bracket with a few electrical connectors, usually found on top of the camera body, right in the middle above the eyepiece. External flashes are mounted here. The electrical connectors allow the camera to communicate with the flash, synchronizing the flash with the shutter release and allowing for lighting adjustments.
Flash shoes are not normally found on point-and-shoot cameras.
Additional Uses for Flash Shoes
A flash shoe serves two purposes: electrical communication and a bracket to hold something. For communication, there are remote lighting controls that attach to a flash shoe. This allows a camera to synchronize with external light sources, such as a soft box, external flash or multiple lighting sources all at once. Photographers should check to be sure that electrical devices attached to their flash shoes are compatible with their cameras.
Sometimes objects are attached to a flash shoe simply because it is a convenient place to mount something. One common example of this is attaching a shotgun microphone when recording video on digital SLRs. This improves the quality of the record sound while still keeping all of the equipment on one single unit.