Quick Review: Richard Franiec grip for Olympus Pen E-PL3 and E-PM1

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Amin Sabet, Oct 29, 2011.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I recently received an Olympus Pen E-PM1 as part of the Olympus Pen Ready promotion. My first reaction was surprise at how small the camera was in comparison to my E-P3. The other surprise was that I liked the E-PM1's looks much better in the hand than I did on screen.

    The Olympus PEN E-PM1 (PEN Mini)

    The knock on the E-PM1 and E-PL3 design is that dropping the grip has made those cameras less functional. However, I personally found it perfectly comfortable to hold and use the grip-less E-PM1. The camera both looked and felt better than I thought it would. While I was aware of the Franiec grip, but I didn't feel any need to add one to my E-PM1. Still, when Richard Franiec extended an offer to send a grip for me to get a feel for the difference, I was eager to give it a try.

    Disclaimer: Richard Franiec, in addition to sending me the evaluation grip for free, is one of some 70 Mu-43 members who have donated to support this site. His donation was freely given, without agreement or expectation of advertising or review, but I should mention it in the context of providing my impressions of his product.


    My E-PM1 with Franiec grip and Gariz soft release

    The Franiec grip is machined from high quality aluminum, feels very solid, and adds a small but noticeable bit to the heft of the PEN Mini. Installation couldn't be easier. The grip uses clear 3M™ VHB™ tape, which provides a firm, reliable attachment seal between the grip and body. You simply clean the surface of your camera body, remove the backing from the tape, and press it into position. If only screen protectors were this easy to apply!

    Richard has been making these grips for other cameras for years, so we know they are built to last. The grip is simple to remove if you prefer the plain body without grip, but I don't imagine that many people will decide to remove it.


    As you can see in the pictures, the grip comes in a black finish with a bit of texture to enhance the "grippability". Depending on the lighting, it can look look similar to, slightly brighter, or slightly darker than the E-PM1 finish.


    Although the grip is nicely designed/finished and fits the E-PM1 contour perfectly, I personally prefer the minimalist looks of the "naked" E-PM1 to the "gripped" version.


    Looks aside though, there is no doubt that the grip makes it easier to hold the camera, especially with larger lenses. Richard's grip also improves the comfort of using the camera, whether shooting with one or two hands. The grip suits my medium-sized hands just right, with the middle finger wrapping around the top part of the grip and the the ring finger curving around the lower portion. There is adequate clearance between my fingers and the lens barrel with all of my lenses, and I don't think any of the native Micro 4/3 lenses would pose a problem.

    In summary, the Franiec grip is well-made, easy to install, and improves the usability of the E-PM1. I slightly prefer the looks of the grip-less Pen, but on balance the grip is a great upgrade for my E-PM1.

    The Franiec grip for E-PM1 and E-PL3 is US$34.95 plus shipping and can be ordered here: Richard Franiec's Camera Accessories

    A less expensive alternative to Richard's grip is a silicone grip made by Flipbac. While I haven't personally used a Flipbac grip, I've heard good things about them. Some people may prefer the rubberized feel of the Flipbac. On the other hand, they aren't custom made to fit the camera, and in contrast to the Franiec grip, they have a prominent logo on display. You can read Ray S' impressions of the Franiec and Flipbac grips here: Richard Franiec to Produce Custom Grip for Olympus E-PL3 and E-PM1
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
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  2. crsnydertx

    crsnydertx Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Real Name:
    Amin, thanks for this. I've used Richard's grips on a variety of Canon G and S models over the years, and they are first-rate in terms of quality and personal service from Richard.

    The grip for the Canon S90 is the same style as the one on your E-PM1. For the S90, the grip served to turn a slippery bar of soap into a usable camera! I wouldn't know how easy or hard it is to remove one of Richard's grips....I wouldn't even consider such a thing!

    DISCLAIMER: I have no association with Richard other than being one of his legion of satisfied customers...:smile:
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  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Yep, Richard's grip really transformed the EPL3 for me. I was really torn between the EPL3 (which I really liked because of the flip screen), and the EP3 because the EP3's ergonomics and feel in the hand were so much better. Adding Richard's grip to the EPL3 doesn't quite bring it up to the level of the EP3 in terms of feel, but it eliminates the feel of the camera as an issue. I'm very happy with this as my main rig now, where it felt highly compromised without the grip.

    I had one on an S90 and I knew what to expect in terms of quality. If anything, though, it makes more of a difference on the EPL3 because depending on lens used, the EPL3 is not as small and light as the S90 and the grip is that much more important.

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  4. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
  5. dcm1024

    dcm1024 New to Mu-43

    Jun 5, 2011
    E-P3 vs. E-PM1

    Please give us your impressions. I am tempted by the low price of the E-PM1 & primarily shoot aperture priority. Am frustrated by slow focus of E-P1. Thanks!
  6. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Real Name:
    I absolutely love the Franiec grip on my E-PM1. With the grip it's actually easier to hold than my former camera, the E-PL1. In fact, I can't think of any accessory I've bought for a camera that's so increased its usability.

    I think Olympus really dropped the ball here by not providing the capability of an optional grip, like they did for the E-P3. In fact, I would argue that a grip is much more important for the E-PM1 than the E-P3 (which I've tried). It's great that entrepreneurs like Richard are stepping into the void and providing what many of us want.
  7. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    The E-PM1 is almost perfect for being a super small M43 camera. The only issue I have which has been reported elsewhere is that the IBIS is very inconsistent.
  8. twmangrove

    twmangrove Mu-43 Regular

    May 8, 2011
    The Shuswap, B.C.
    Aesthetically, I still prefer Amy Medina's custom job, as seen in her review on Steve Huff's website, and I anxiously await the release of a custom-made skin for the PM1. Mind you, a combination of the two might not be bad.
  9. xdayv

    xdayv Color Blind

    Aug 26, 2011
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    Real Name:
    Jonathan, care to explain more about the IBIS inconsistency of E-PM1? thanks. btw, you're still using the G3 or shifted to oly?
  10. Jarola

    Jarola Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 15, 2012
    Tampa FL
    Real Name:
    Thanks for the review! I just ordered one...
  11. coool12

    coool12 New to Mu-43

    Nov 30, 2012
    nice posts........and pcis