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Custom grip for OM-D E-M5

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by figure five, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. figure five

    figure five Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Nov 19, 2013
    Minneapolis, MN

    I tried out a few of the available grips for the OM-D, and these were my basic impressions:

    - Olympus HLD-6: Pros - nice integrated look, functional, adds extra shutter release. Cons - ~100g in weight just for the horizontal portion, blocks battery door access, makes OM-D significantly taller which negates smaller form factor IMO, relatively expensive (~$150 used)

    - J. Milich grip: Pros - well constructed, integrated Arca-Swiss plate. Cons- ~90g in weight, not super comfortable in my hand, appearance isn't super clean / integrated with OM-D design, makes OM-D significantly taller which negates smaller form factor IMO, ~$80 used

    - JB Designs grip: Pros - nice design, looks more integrated than J.Milich grip, reasonably comfortable, lighter weight at 60g. Cons - makes OM-D significantly taller which negates smaller form factor IMO, 60g is still a 15% increase in weight over no grip, ~ $50

    I haven't tried the RRS grip but wasn't super interested because it's the heaviest.

    Still interested in finding a low-profile grip solution to improve handling with my Panasonic 7-14, 12-35, and 35-100mm lenses, I decided to make my own.

    I bought some Sugru (black color, 8-pack of 5g packets, Amazon, ~$21). After watching the tutorials on their website (a cool website and great small business story), I set aside 30 minutes or so to make a grip.

    Sugru is basically a moldable, sculptable silicone rubber product that cures in 24 hours. It's waterproof, super durable, and temperature stable from -58F to +356F. You can cut it and sand it, and it's quite comfy to the touch.

    I opened 5 of the packets (25g total) and rolled them into a single ball (the material acts like play-dough but smoother and more elastic). Then I rolled the ball into a short fat snake form and stuck it onto the grip surface of my OM-D. Using my fingers and a knife
    as a straightedge, I formed the material into a nice ergonomic shape.

    I let it cure for 24 hours, and tried it out -- super comfortable and functional, but after a first-pass at sculpting not perfectly smooth and polished-looking. So, I used some 220 grit sandpaper and a sharp knife to remove a little here and there, to refine the shape a little and to achieve a nice smooth surface over the entirety of the grip.

    If you sand the Sugru, it takes on a duller more porous finish. So, I used about half of another packet (2-3g) and smoothed some fresh Sugru all over the grip to achieve a nice dark black, waterproof, and sealed surface with a finished look.

    Here are some photos. I'm pleased with the results, as now I have a nice ergonomic grip with just the right rubbery cushion, weighing only 25g, not adding any vertical height to the camera (and therefore maintaining the original design of the OM-D), and costing only $21.

    Plus I still have two more packets to use on some other fun project!

    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 4
  2. duke

    duke Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 4, 2010
    San Francisco Bay Area
    interesting, is it easy to remove though?
  3. figure five

    figure five Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Nov 19, 2013
    Minneapolis, MN
    Yes - you can just cut off the bulk of it, then use a fingernail, toothpick, Q-tip, something non-marring to scrape off any residual stuff. It comes off quite easily that way, but is super strongly adherent otherwise.
  4. chipbutty

    chipbutty Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Interesting. I'm not keen on the JB Designs grip. It digs into the palm of my hand. Extremely uncomfortable. I don't know why that corner section is not more rounded. I intend to sand it down. People seem to love that grip though.

    This Sugru stuff certainly looks interesting. There's a thread on mu-43 where someone used the stuff to prevent their palm from pushing the buttons on the back of their G6.
  5. figure five

    figure five Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Nov 19, 2013
    Minneapolis, MN
    Agreed that the corner section on many of these grips (except the Olympus HLD-6 which has a thoughtful little bevel cut out) all annoyingly dig into your palm. I tried to the make the edges and corners on this grip just round enough to avoid that problem (that's where sanding and being able to hold and grip the camera with various lenses attached as you shape it is really nice). Plus the rubber has a little more elastic give than plastic or aluminum.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. heedpantsnow

    heedpantsnow Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 24, 2011
    Great job, and thanks for sharing!
  7. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    Great work!
    There are no custom grips for E-P5, so I made my own from JB Waterweld epoxy putty.
    DIY grips to masses! :2thumbs:
    • Like Like x 1
  8. mrjr

    mrjr Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 25, 2012
    Nice work. Looks quite clean.
  9. pointbob

    pointbob Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 2, 2012
    I'm amazed it sticks - I wonder what it may do to the paint on the e-m5 when you try to remove it.

    I recall the ep3 being super east to flake off just after use over time.

    That's the only problem with the solution - you won't know how the chemistry has interacted with your camera until you attempt to take it off. Hope it does not leave permanent marks of some kind.
  10. figure five

    figure five Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Nov 19, 2013
    Minneapolis, MN
    I'd think that the majority of the chemical interaction would happen while the material is curing (the first 24-48 hours). Since I let it cure and then cut away some, I could see that the paint and plastic on the OM-D appeared unaltered underneath. Who knows over time though? In any event I try to remind myself that cameras are for using, and the way m43 camera bodies drop in resale anyway over 2-3 years I'm not too worried about it.
  11. BigTom

    BigTom Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 23, 2011
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