For any of you trying to customize your Fuji X-T1 to fit your hand, here is my saga so far.
Keep in mind:
- The other camera I often use is a Canon 7D (which fits my hand perfectly),
- But I also cut my teeth on a Nikon FM2 which had a similar body design to the Fuji X-T1,
- And I have long fingers, so my experience might not match with yours.
Out of the box – doable with two hands, but not great for carrying around with one hand.
It feels like I’m trying to keep hold of a heavy book by pinching it with three fingertips (pinky hangs off and index finger is busy).
With Lensmate Thumbrest – fantastic for for short shoots, but after a while I notice that this is still not as secure as I would like when carrying around the camera with one hand (especially with heavier lenses).
With Fuji Base Plate – gave my pinky a place to grip which made a surprising difference. Nice! but still leaves me wanting more. (Now I feel like I’m pinching a heavy book with four fingertips.)
With generic battery grip – great for vertical hold, but for horizontal hold, it doesn’t give a better grip than using the Fuji Base Plate since it doesn’t change the grip (plus adds significant size and weight)
Non-Fuji hand grips
Since only Fuji hand grips have flat bottoms for my Peak Design plates, I did not consider 3rd party grips.
MHG-XT hand grip (2 models)
So, which Fuji hand grip should I get? I ended up with the Large, but here is the research I did to compare the two Fuji hand grips (standard/regular and large) to my Canon 7D. I know that the scales aren’t perfect, but it’s the best that I could find.
The Large MHG-XT was closer to my Canon 7D, so that is what I chose to get.
(Notice that the X-T1’s shutter button is positioned further back than the 7D. This plays into some design considerations you can see in the side view section below.)
My 7D has a nice ledge below the shutter button to stop the middle finger from sliding. My X-T1 only has an indentation for just the tip of the middle finger. The standard/regular doesn’t add anything for the middle finger, but the Large has a nice ledge for the ring finger, and the middle finger now wraps around the top of the hand grip (which is surprisingly natural).
(Why do the fingers curl downward on the X-T1 but not on the 7D? Look at the index finger which takes the lead.)
(The top of the orange outline protrudes a little because the image wasn’t taken at the same angle as the others, but is close enough to compare the grips.)
Why doesn’t the Fuji hand grip go all the way up to the shutter button? Because that would make the index finger stretch uncomfortably. Instead, the grip creates an angled transition from the index finger on the shutter button down to the pinky with a ledge for the ring finger.
It is not obvious, but actually quite a natural position once you hold it. The ledge between the middle and ring finger acts like a lock, and the whole setup feels like holding a squishy putty stress toy like this that you can buy off Amazon or make yourself with flour and a balloon.
(Note: Now that the ring and pinky are further away from the body, your hand/palm also rotates so that the thumb rests further down and the wrist is now more forward.)
This also causes a twist/untwist of the wrist.
The twist is unpleasant when holding a light camera, but may have some short-term benefits for some when using large, heavy cameras and lenses.
Now what about your thumb? With the MHG in place, my thumb is somewhat comfortable in the default thumb position, but doesn’t feel as secure as on my 7D. I believe it is because it is not angled to fit the natural contour of my thumb, but I could be wrong.
Moreover, my Lensmate Thumbrest now feels uncomfortably high as the added grip rotated my hand so my thumb now wants to be in the default thumb position (instead of higher), so I removed the Thumbrest. This is a boon for me as I now don’t have to remove my Thumbrest to use a flash or wireless flash trigger.
Here are the views again
Grip material is just like the rubber on the X-T1 body. There is no significant give, and, for me, it doesn’t add significant weight. I still can’t relax my fingers like I can with my 7D and hand strap*, but this is much closer to the 7D grip.
*fortunately or unfortunately, mirrorless cameras are not designed for hand straps.