Having owned the Fujifilm X-T1 for over six months now and used it on a regular basis, I find it difficult to point out any serious design flaws. The chassis is solid, the various buttons and dials are easy to access and turn, and the front and rear grips for your hand and thumb are both substantial and comfortable. We were even lucky enough not to experience the dreaded light leak issue of the first batch of X-T1s, so all in all, we are dealing with a near-perfect design.
However there are a couple of accessories that can make the user experience with the X-T1 (or any camera for that matter) even more enjoyable, namely thumb rests and soft buttons. And to our delight, we recently received one of each to test on our beloved Fuji.
Lensmate X-T1 Thumb Rest
Lensmate is a well-respected specialty digital photo product company based out of Seattle, US. Their products have all been designed for mirrorless and high-end compact cameras, with a specific focus on the Fujifilm X series. They specialise in both thumb rests and threaded soft buttons.
The first thing you noticed about the Lensmate X-T1 thumb rest is just how solid and well-made it is. According to the website, it has been “machined out of solid 6061 Aluminum rod, then bead blasted for texture and anodized for a tough finish.” If one thing is certain, this thumb rest will never unexpectedly chip or snap in two as a cheaper thumb rest might.
A second useful feature is the integrated tab that neatly slides into the hot shoe, preventing unintentional ejection. Having been designed to fit the X-T1’s contours to a T (no pun intended), the insert does not interfere with any of the buttons or controls on the camera. Perhaps the only difference is that you won’t be able to turn the shutter dial with your thumb and forefinger together, or with just your thumb. However, this isn’t a big deal as it is easy to turn the dial with your forefinger on its own. You can see the video below for a demonstration:
To provide extra protection, there is also a silicone insert that acts as both a cushion for your thumb and a buffer between the thumb rest and camera body.
It really looks as if the thumb rest is an extension of the X-T1’s design rather than a removable accessory.
Of course, the fact that the thumb rest occupies the hot shoe means that you cannot use other hot shoe accessories while the thumb rest is attached. This can be a disadvantage if you find the thumb rest useful for important assignments where an external flash is necessary.
One-handed operation is a cinch with the X-T1 even without the thumb rest, but it becomes even simpler with it attached. It is easier to control camera shake for slower shutter speeds, and gives you more confidence in your grip on the X-T1, though I’d admittedly never carry the camera around without a wrist or neck strap.
The only downside is the price, which reflects the wonderful build quality and materials used in its construction but won’t appeal to those on a tight budget.
Lolumina Soft Release for the X-T1
Since Lensmate suggests that using a soft release button along with the thumb rest makes your grip more relaxed and the overall package more ergonomic, they also sent us a Lolumina stick-on Soft Release for the X-T1 to test. They would have sent us one of their own soft buttons, but could not as the X-T1 does not have a threaded connection. (They may release a stick-on version of their own sometime in the future.)
The point of a soft release is to reduce the amount of camera shake produced when your finger presses the shutter button. The larger surface area means that less pressure is required to push down the button. To this end, the Lolumina soft release works like a charm. I found that using it alongside the thumb rest gave me more stability, especially for one-handed shooting.
It is made of solid aluminium, and has the optimal amount of curvature so it feels smooth and unobtrusive. On the all-black X-T1, the red version gives the camera a splash of colour, but there are also a number of other shades to choose from, including discreet black, cheerful yellow, subdued green and classic silver.
Attaching the soft release is also easy, though it requires some patience and precision.
- Begin by choosing the flat A mount for the X-T1.
- Then, clean the shutter release button with a micro fibre or lint-free cloth (provided with kit) and allow to dry.
- Once completely dry, carefully peel the backing off the soft release mount and place it squarely on the shutter button, holding it firmly in place for sixty seconds. It is best if you wait at least three days for the soft button to adhere to full strength, though it will be 90% ready within 24 hours.
- Finally, screw the soft release onto the mount and take your spruced-up X-T1 out for a spin!
If for some reason you have to remove the soft release, you can do so by sliding a taut piece of thin floss washed in slippery dish soap between the mounting base and adhesive disk.
I carried around the X-T1 with the soft release attached for two days in my Porteen compact camera bag after letting it dry for over a week, and suffice to say it never came loose thanks to the extremely tenacious adhesive. My first impression is that it is just as sturdy and reliable as a threaded soft release.
Update: Using the combo at the Turin Marathon
At the 28th edition of the Turin Marathon, I used the X-T1 with the thumb rest and soft release to take some shots of the runners. Since the two accessories proved quite helpful, I felt an update to the article was necessary.
A number of times, I had to lower the camera over the barrier, use the tilting screen to see the action, and take the shot one-handed. In this case, the Lolumina soft release really came in handy as it made pressing the shutter button easier and provided some added stability.
The thumb rest, too, was an added bonus for panning shots of the runners as they rushed by. I felt like I had a better grip on the camera, and thus, had more control over the sweeping manoeuvre.
Do you own a thumb rest or soft release for your camera? If so, share your thoughts about it in the comments section!