How I modified my X-T1 with Sugru

How I modified my X-T1 with Sugru

 

The Sugru rubber make the 4-way selector buttons finally usable.

The Sugru rubber make the 4-way selector buttons finally usable.

This is going to be a short and to-the-point post. I have been using the Fujifilm X-T1 now for a few months and have come to appreciate this camera. I know this sounds nothing like other peoples reviews of this camera. Everyone seems to love this camera but me. For me it has been a love/hate journey. I have never been thrilled with this camera’s form. I liked the rangefinder look of the other X-series cameras. So from the very start, I was disappointed.

Once I bought the camera (Yes, bought, contrary to a few of my readers think, Fujifilm does not give me gear.) I was even more frustrated. I suffered from muscle memory from hours of X-E2 use. My biggest challenge was to stop inadvertently hitting the video button. Fuji chose to put the X-T1′s video button right where the fn button on the X-E2 was. On the X-E2, I made that fn button my focus select button. So, once I changed to the X-T1, whenever I wanted to change my focus point, I kept mistakenly pressing the video button instead. Frustrating! After a couple of months of use, this has changed.

But the other big issue I had/have with the design of the X-T1 has not. It is the recessed 4-way selector buttons on the back of the camera. These are the buttons you use to change the focus point in the viewfinder. These buttons are awful! I can’t feel them at all with my thumb and as a result, in order to use them, I must pull the camera away from my eyes and look at them, and this is just not working out for me. Ahain, this is not a little issue for me. I even posted on Facebook that I might consider selling my X-T1 over this. Yes, I know many of you focus and recompose, but I don’t. Moving the focus point is how I shoot. I don’t want a camera to force me to change the way I shoot!
This is a physical issue, not something Fujifilm can fix with a firmware update. [1. Well, that is not exactly true. In theory Fuji could change other buttons or the control dials on the camera to rotate through and select focus points using a firmware update. But I don’t know how likely that is anytime in the near future.] I had just about given up hope, when I saw this tweet from Rob Mitchell @stillmation.

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Rob did a modification to the back of the X-T1 by adding a new form and fix self setting rubber called Sugru over his buttons. It looked easy enough. I had already tried adding layers of gaffers tape over each button. But over time the tape slid and got gummy. Plus it never really raised the buttons high enough to feel. So after a twitter conversation with Rob, I ordered a small batch. It came yesterday, and I immediately started on my modifications.

Easy to use. Just roll the rubber putty around to form it. Then apply it to the camera.

Easy to use. Just roll the rubber putty around to form it. Then apply it to the camera.

 

This stuff it great. Use it for any mod and then remove it later if you don't like it.

This stuff it great. Use it for any mod and then remove it later if you don’t like it.

The nice thing about Sugru is it seems to adhere to anything and seems to stay put (time will tell) and there is nothing to gum up the area around the buttons, unlike the adhesive of the gaffers tape. It was very easy to use. You just open the pack, massage the putty around in your fingers to loosen it up and then pinch off four very, very small amounts. I rolled them into four small lines about the length of each button. Then I carefully put them on each button. At first I tried to make it look pretty. But after struggling with the aesthetic I gave up and just settled for functional. I used the pick part of my pipe tamp tool to form each button once the putty was placed on the camera. You can use a toothpick just as easily. I made a few versions and pulled them off and started over with no troubles. Once I made it look like how I wanted it to, I put it aside to dry and set. Within six hours it was hard enough to gently touch, and I could tell even then, I had made the right decision to use this stuff. This morning I picked up my camera and actually played with the button and actually got giddy! They are perfect! It has given a fresh start to what has been a frustrating camera experience.

 

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About The Author

Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.

11 Comments

  1. Margaret Swan

    Matt! These exact issues have been holding me up from buying an X-T1 – my husband has one and I just can’t like it – still love my X-E2.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Margaret, I wouldn’t let you keep it from buying one. Have you tried the X-E2? I love that camera. But I really am waiting for the X-Pro2! All the guys of the X-T1 with the form of the rangefinder, lovely!

      Reply
  2. Tim Bird

    Sounds like a good idea but I hope the Sugru works. I tried fixing part of my suitcase with it and it fell off fairly quickly! But good luck…

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Frankly, I have been wondering the same thing. It seems like a winning idea. But only time will tell.

      Reply
  3. don

    What a great idea! I’ll have to try this myself. Currently my d-pad have 3 tiny layers of gaffer’s tape on each button – so far so good – but yeah, the adhesive can be a real PIA to get off!

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Don, I found that the gaffers tape slid after a while I got all gummy. I think this is a better and more elegant solution.

      Reply
  4. Jack

    Sugru is like the best stuff ever. I use it on my Olympus E-P5 to make the grip a little bigger. I also used it with my Apple earpods to get them to fit better. Love that stuff.

    Reply
    • Matt Brandon

      Jack, thanks for commenting. I could see how that would help with those crappy iPhone earbuds. But how did you mold them to fit?

      Reply
  5. Bob

    It Works!!! It Works!!! Thank you so much Matt. You know the immediate feeling of relief I got when I picked up my X-T1 in the morning and the awful button problem is GONE forever and you have a camera the way it should have been made to begin with. Message to others using SUGRU: less is best. If you make the buttons too thick, you will have trouble getting your thumb down inside to the “menu/ok” center button. So, roll your SUGRU thin. FUJIFILM listen up. We should never have had to do this.

    Reply
  6. Margaret Swan

    Update! Thanks to your great tip I’ve successfully used your Sugru fix on my husband’s X-T1 – quite easy to do and he loves it. I “enhanced” the top-right back-button focus button as well – works perfectly. But I’m sticking with my X-E2. For those afraid of Sugru slipping into the cracks – not an issue if you’re ordinarily careful. The “less is best” advice is correct. You can always top it up later if necessary.

    Reply
  7. Lissette Q

    Thanks to you, I purchased the Sugru and “enhanced” the 4 d-pad buttons immediately after seeing your post. HEAVEN! It feels so comfortable and natural. It has now been a month and they are perfectly set. Furthermore, you can’t notice the Sugru unless you are really looking for it. Thank you so much. And by the way, I LOVE my X-T1. It is my first entry into the Fuji family along with the 35mm/1.4 and 56mm/1.2 lenses. The camera goes everywhere with me. My Canon 5Dm3 and L lenses are now only use for my son’s basketball games.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How I modified my X-T1 with Sugru | Matt Brandon › By TOMEN - […] See on www.thedigitaltrekker.com […]
  2. Two ways to fix the d-pad buttons on your Fujifilm X-T1 | Fuji RumorsFuji Rumors - […] used a self-setting rubber (Surgu) to mod his back buttons I thought I would give it a try.” Read…

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