How I modified my X-T1 with Sugru
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.
— Rob Mitchell (@stillmation) May 13, 2014
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.
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.