I love most things about my X-T1, but like everything in life there’s always room for improvement. Perhaps something like a better thumb rest and maybe a more responsive shutter release button? Looks like it’s not just me that thinks this way because Lensmate obviously thought the same and brought out two accessories to address these issues.
So with this in mind here is my review of their thumb rest and soft-release button. Let me point at that they are not paying me for this review neither did they supply this one for free. I bought this one with my own hard earned cash.
You can order online just the thumb rest alone if you wish ($69.95), but to include the shutter release adds only a small additional cost ($75.95 in total). So I ordered both items. As far as the soft-release button is concerned, you have several colour choices: black, red, gold, green or silver. I chose the red finish
Lensmate are based in the U.S. As I’m in the UK (postage worked out at an extra very reasonable $13.70 for first class international post) I envisaged quite a delay between ordering and delivery, but this proved not to be the case, as it arrived in just over a week.
The Thumb Rest arrived in a really smart black box with a magnetic closure. The soft-release button kit comes in a clear plastic container with full assembly instructions.
Let’s start with a look at the thumb rest. This is a beautiful piece of engineering! To quote their website: “It’s Machined out of solid 6061 Aluminum rod, then bead blasted for texture and anodized for a tough finish.” It has an integrated silicone insert in both the thumb rest and also as a bumper between the rest and camera body, which keeps it secure. To fit you simply slide it into the hotshoe on the top of the camera. I must say it looks really smart and gives the camera a much more secure hold in the hand. You thumb falls neatly onto the silicone soft rest and is very comfortable. It makes for very easy one-handed operation, which I find really useful for my street photography. The only downside is that you have to remove it if you want to use a flashgun. Also I found it slightly trickier to fit, when you have the extended eyecup fitted. You just have to press the top part of the eye-cup rubber down to ease sliding the thumb rest into the hotshoe.
The good news is that the well-designed thumb rest doesn’t obscure or block using any of the X-T1’s controls. Even the metering dial is not obscured.
So I would wholeheartedly recommend the thumb rest, it’s really well made, durable and really makes the camera even more fun to use.
Let’s now take a look at the soft-release button. One of the downsides of the X-T1’s superb weather sealing, is that Fuji had to dispense with the shutter release button screw thread as are found on the X100’s, X-Pro1, X-E’s and even the new X-T10. These all have a screw socket where you can screw in a soft-release button, which a lot of photographers, including myself, like to add. These aid and increase the tactile feel to the shutter release so that it feels more responsive. Lensmate however cleverly came up with a solution, that they call the Lolumina soft-release button.
Most users of the domed soft-release button find that the new position places the first joint of the shutter finger over the shutter button when the hand is relaxed, enabling a softer shutter release and allowing lower shutter speeds without shake. I too have found this to be the case since fitting the button.
Installation is more complicated than the thumb rest proved to be, but if you follow the very clear instructions in the leaflet provided, then it took not very long at all. Fitting the button involves firstly cleaning the existing release with the provided alcohol pad and then leaving it to dry for about 10 minutes.
You then remove the backing off the button mount to reveal the adhesive and very carefully place the mount onto the centre of the release. You will need to leave the mount untouched for at least 24 hours and ideally 72 hours to ensure a strong bond. You can then screw the button onto the mount. In the past when I’ve used soft-release buttons on my X100, they have often unscrewed over time and I have lost many. So I would recommend that a small drop of glue be applied, onto the thread of the mount before, screwing onto the release.
Should at some point you sell on your X-T1 or decide you don’t want the soft-release button, it can be removed apparently using a piece of dental floss. Details of how to do this are to be found in the installation instruction booklet supplied.
Since fitting my soft-release button and the thumb rest, I have found both indispensible and don’t know how I managed without either of them before. They really do improve the handling and joy of using the X-T1 and would recommend you take a look at their website: www.lensmateonline.com for more details or to order.