Fujifilm, Damn It, Get a Grip!

One thing my partner learned from ten years working in Canon’s research and development division is that even photographic market leaders have hardware and firmware blindspots, and in that instance they were legion and persistent, and remain so to this day. 

Fujifilm has its own persistent camera and lens hardware and firmware idiosyncrasies, which I have covered in other articles on this site, with one of its most recent hardware blindspots being the failure to issue a hand grip for the camera most in need of one, the Fujifilm X100F. 

Fujifilm Finepix X100 camera with Fujifilm MHG-X100 hand grip and Peak Design original Cuff and CL-2 Clutch camera straps. I am waiting for Peak Design AL-3 Anchor Links to appear locally so I can replace the original AL and current AL-2 Anchor Links illustrated as they are too thick to permit easily opening the camera’s battery and card door.

When I managed to see an X100, I was impressed by Fujifilm’s achievement but dismayed by its minimal built-in grip and the slipperiness of its tiny body.

I ordered one and it arrived just before a trip to San Francisco where I carried it everywhere every day.

It helped me produce some terrific photographs but my ability to hold it comfortably and safely at all times was compromised by the lack of a hand grip, despite finding a reasonable wrist strap to attach the camera.

I eventually came across Fujifilm’s MHG-X100 hand grip and snapped it up, attaching it to the camera along with Peak Design’s Clutch and Cuff camera straps.

I was impressed by how Fujifilm had thought of everything, by designing a rectangular notch into the side of the hand grip to allow attaching camera straps like the first one I bought for it, from San Francisco’s DSPTCH travel company.

Gallery of X100 images, before and after hand grip

The top three photographs were made when I did not have a hand grip for my X100, and the three photographs below were made after I bought a Fujifilm hand grip.

The safer former grip afforded by the hand grip gave me far more confidence and allowed me to be far more gestural in my approach, working faster and getting close in to the action.

I use my X100 with hand grip for documentary projects to this day.

No Fujifilm hand grip for the X100F!

I was shocked to learn that Fujifilm had failed to produce an updated version of its MHG-X100 hand grip for the X100F, when I was kindly loaned an X100F.

Like the X100 and its two successors, the X100S and X100T, the X100F’s body is small and slippery, and its taller built-in slippery grip bump does little or nothing to aid in ensuring a good hand-hold of the camera.

I attached my usual Peak Design Clutch and Cuff via Peak Design’s Arca-Swiss compatible camera plate, as in the photographs above, but it was a compromise compared to my hand-grip-plus-camera-straps solution for the X100.

Compromise, too is the word I would apply to each third party camera grip design I have seen online so far, linked to in my list of links blow.

None of them appeal to me and I am wondering whether even Really Right Stuff’s L-Plate Set and Grip might be worth the investment given its size, weight and slippery CNC surface, despite the potential usefulness of its optional L-Component for tripod-mounting in portrait orientation via an Arca-Swiss tripod head.

Really Right Stuff’s X100F solution has one really big downside besides slipperiness, size, expense and weight, and that is its lack of provision for attaching my two Peak Design camera straps.

Instead the company offers its Magpul Gen 2 MS4 Dual QD Sling for carrying the plated and gripped-up X100F rather than my smaller, safer, lighter and more elegant Clutch plus Cuff solution.

A long, long time ago… even the Leica CL, Leitz Minolta CL and Minolta CLE had a hand grip

My first thought on first seeing preview images of the Fujifilm Finepix X100 online some years ago was that it might be the closest digital equivalent to a Leica CL, Leitz Minolta CL or a Minolta CLE.

The Leitz camera company, now Leica Camera AG, reportedly killed off the Leica CL as sales were eating into those of the far more expensive Leica M5, and having seen and tried an M5 I can see why.

According to Ken Rockwell, “the CLE is a joy to carry, and a joy to shoot” and that it “could be photography’s messiah: the smallest, lightest possible solution for a complete advanced camera system” but as none of its versions appeared in my part of the world at the time I have never had the pleasure of using one.

It is remarkable how popular the Minolta CLE remains amongst those in the know to this day, including Take Kayo of Big Head Taco who reportedly has two of them.

Three lenses were created specially for these three cameras – the Minolta M-Rokkor 28mm f/2.8 wide-angle, the M-Rokkor 40mm f/2.0 “perfect normal” and the M-Rokkor 90mm f/4.0 medium telephoto.

But I digress..

The Fujfilm X100F achieves a similar result with its 35mm-equivalent 23mm fixed lens and its optional TCL-X100 II Tele Conversion and WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion lenses providing the equivalent to the 28mm and 50mm focal lengths in 35mm sensor terms, making it close to a credible digital “complete advanced camera system” able to fit in a small waist bag or shoulder bag.

Now if only Fujifilm could release its own hand grip for the X100F to make it a complete camera system, then we would be much happier. 🙂

Links

Image Credits

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris. Hero image of the Fujifilm X100 with hand grip photographed as 5-bracket HDR on Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 with Panasonic Lumix 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric lens then processed with Skylum Aurora HDR 2018 and Luminar 2018.

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  • Fujifilm MHG-X100 Hand Grip for X100T, X100S and X100 Digital Cameras – B&H
  • Fujifilm X100F Digital CameraB&H
  • Fujifilm TCL-X100 II Tele Conversion LensB&H
  • Fujifilm WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion LensB&H
  • Match Technical EP-2F Thumbs Up Grip for Fujifilm X100FB&H
  • Peak Design Anchor Connectors for Peak Design Straps (4-Pack)B&H
  • Peak Design AL-3 Anchor LinksB&H
  • Peak Design Cuff Camera Wrist StrapB&H
  • Peak Design CL-2 Clutch Camera Hand-StrapB&H
  • Peak Design Leash Camera StrapB&H
  • Really Right Stuff Base Plate for Fujifilm X100FB&H
  • Really Right Stuff Base Plate and Grip for Fujifilm X100F – B&H
  • Really Right StuffL-Component for BX100F Base Plate – B&H
  • Really Right Stuff L-Plate Set and Grip for Fujifilm X100F B&H

3 Legged Thing: Why things cost what they cost… – with COMMENTARY

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-things-cost-what-danny-lenihan

“In the last couple of weeks my little brand, 3 Legged Thing, launched a brand new Universal L Bracket – the QR11. For the most part, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Then, somebody sent me a link to a well known forum, where a conversation had started about the press release for the QR11. The comments were almost wholly negative with more than one contributor stating “You can buy this from **insert website name** for $7″ or “I got one from China for $5 and it works just fine”….”

Commentary:

The above excellent and informative article by Danny Lenihan of 3 Legged Thing is partially in reference to 3 Legged Thing’s QR11 Universal L-Bracket aka L-Plate.

I have been looking for an L-Plate for my still-current Panasonic Lumix GX8 camera for some time and thought I had finally found a good solution in Really Right Stuff’s BGX8 L-Plate, only to discover to my deep disappointment that it was discontinued six months ago.

Really Right Stuff’s now discontinued BGX8 L-Plate for the GX8

The GX8 is a brilliant camera for portraiture and even if the GX9 eventually appears with IBIS and Dual IS per the GH5, I will continue to use my GX8 for tripod-mounted portrait and landscape orientation environmental portraiture due to its lovely sensor.

Why throw away something that works well and keep feeding the camera GAS churn cycle when perfectly good cameras can keep performing for years to come?

My current GX8 “L-Plate” solution

An L-Plate would make shooting in both orientations much easier and surer, quickly swapping from vertical to horizontal and vice versa in a way that is simply not possible by flipping the tripod head from one to the other.

Relying on third party manufacturers to supply custom solutions to common problems that should, perhaps, be attended to by camera makers is prone to all sorts of problems.

A universal L-Plate is a good solution in theory so long as it is designed in such a way that access to all your cameras’ functions are not impeded.

It seems that 3 Legged Thing did not have access to Panasonic Lumix cameras so may not have designed their QR11 L-Plate to fit it, and has not rated it for usability with the GX8 or other Panasonic cameras, or Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 for that matter.

I have managed to obtain a half-baked solution to my problem with the GX8 by purchasing SmallRig’s Cage for Panasonic GX8 1844 but a camera cage is hardly the same thing as an L-Plate.

I can understand camera-users resorting to Chinese cut-price copyists – I have had to do that myself in the absence of decent local product supply or in the presence of situations like this one with Really Right Stuff, but one thing remains constant – every Chinese-made item I have bought so far has failed spectacularly, or has been poorly-made, or is mediocre a best, or is just a lousy copy of the real thing which I have not been able to obtain for whatever reason.

I am hoping upon hope that 3 Legged Thing’s QR11 can work well enough with the GX8 or better yet that they will update it to work with the GX8 without impeding its full functionality, but the fact remains that L-Plates (and cages) customized for each specific camera are the best solution by far.

I would have thought that the whole point of contemporary CNC machining is that products can be made at any time, without having to produce in big batches, and so making even just one more Really Right Stuff BGX8 on demand should not be an impossible or insanely costly task.

Or do I have the wrong end of the stick? Independent in-demand solutions providers like Hejnar Photo prove otherwise.

As the destruction of the incredible and unique Samsung NX1, NX500 and Galaxy NX cameras proves, well-established manufacturers can and do make lousy decisions all the time and small manufacturers like Really Right Stuff are no exception to this.

Or, for that matter, Manfrotto, with their unique but tragically killed-off Lino Manfrotto Collection and Fig Rig product lines as well as other equally unique products like the Xume filter attachment system that appears to have been blessed with some pretty lousy marketing and distribution.