Date: 17/02/2014 | By: Heather
Reviewing PhotoMADD’s X100s Grip and Tripod Plate Kit
“Why add a grip to such a svelte camera as the X100/s?”
This was a valid question we received when we posted an image of PhotoMADD’s X100/s grip and tripod plate kit the other day. Indeed, one of the biggest advantages of the X100/s system is its compactness and portability, so adding a grip may seem like creating a problem for an already-existing solution.
However, after extensively using the kit over the weekend, my impression is that despite the increase in size, it actually has improved my personal shooting experience with the X100s.
According to the owner Matthew Maddock, the idea for PhotoMADD grip/tripod plates was born of his dissatisfaction with the existing grips for the X series. He found them unattractive and unpractical, as they would cover the battery and SD card compartment. Moreover, he was annoyed by that fact that if you attach a tripod plate to any of the Fujifilm X-Series cameras, it covers the battery and SD card slot. It was at that point he decided to design his own…
Improved shooting experience
Why do I feel better shooting with the grip, you ask? Well, it all comes down to ergonomics. While I enjoy the aesthetics of the X100s more than any other camera we’ve tried, I often find that my hold on the camera isn’t as good as it could be due to the lack of a substantial grip. With the thoughtfully-designed PhotoMADD X100s grip attached, I feel that I’ve got a much better grasp on the camera.
Construction of the kit
The kit is made of aluminium, making it extremely light yet durable. I would go as far as to say that I did not feel a difference in weight with it attached to the X100s. While the product itself is CNC machined in China to keep costs reasonable, Matthew has them shipped as bare metal to the UK where he uses a local anodising company to finish them.
The version you see here is the silver version, but you can also choose the standard black, or if you’re feeling really daring, blue or red. Personally, I prefer silver, not only because it is more well-matched to the silver finish of our X100s, but also because I feel that flamboyant colours don’t really fit the modest appearance of the X series. It is a shame that the silver shade of the kit isn’t exactly the same as the silver finish of the camera, but as with all grips/tripod plates, functionality is more important than appearance.
The kit has three components, all of which are easily detachable with the twist of a screw: a tripod plate for horizontal shots, a grip, and vertical L-plate. The one component which must always be present is the plate, as both the grip and L-plate attach to it rather than the camera.
As I mentioned above, Matthew designed the tripod plate so that it would not obstruct access to the battery, SD card or connectors. This is no doubt an aspect of the kit that will please a lot of X shooters.
If you are into shooting with tripods, the main plate allows you to take horizontal shots, while the L-plate is ideal for vertical shots. The single disadvantage is that the L-plate has only been designed for use with ARCA-SWISS tripod heads. Since our tripod head isn’t compatible, we were unable to test this aspect of the kit.
I should add that we rarely use tripods with any of our cameras, let alone with the tiny X100s. It is a camera we consider more of a street shooter than anything else, and as such, we’d be more likely to use the grip and plate without the additional L-plate. However, for those who only own the X100/s, I can see these two plates coming in handy.
How big is it?
For those concerned about the size of the grip and the degree to which it will increase the bulk of the camera, I’ve posted a comparison showing the X100s with grip/tripod plate (without L-plate) beside the similarly compact OM-D E-M5 with the HLD-6 battery grip. As you can see, they are about the same size. Even with the grip attached, the X100/s remains the perfect size for casual street photography, and if our personal experience is any proof, may actually prove much more ergonomic for those with large hands.
I also tried placing it inside our small National Geographic Earth Explorer pouch to see if it would still fit comfortably. Happily, it slips right in just as before, still leaving room for my wallet, smartphone and other small accessories like batteries and SD cards.
Holding the grip
When I am holding the camera as I walk, my pointer finger naturally falls into the finger groove of the grip component while my other fingers align themselves below.
When I am on the verge of shooting, however, my middle finger slides into the groove while my pointer finger comfortably rests upon the smooth upper part of the grip, just below the on/off button and in easy reach of the shutter button and OVF/EVF toggle. As designs go, it is both comfortable and intuitive.
The PhotoMADD X100s grip and tripod plate kit is definitely a worthwhile investment if you do a lot of shooting with your X100/s. Since it consists of three components, it is easy to customise to your needs (either general street shooting or tripod photography), and will not add any unwanted weight to the overall package. It is a little bit on the pricey side (£99 for the three components) but this is justifiable considering it is custom made. It also comes with a 14 day money-back guarantee.
Matthew said in a recent conversation that PhotoMadd Shop is planning to branch out into other Fujifilm X-Series accessories as well, with more and more manufacturers coming on-board every week with accessories that he has personally found work very well with the Fujifilm X-Series cameras in his years of shooting with them. His idea is to make PhotoMadd Shop the place to come to for all Fujifilm X-Series accessories, with great 3rd party products complementing custom made PhotoMadd items.