I am a great fan of camera thumb grips and have been a long-time user of Tim Isaac’s Thumbs Up for the Leica M. It adds a great deal of security, even without a traditional front-mounted grip fitted, and helps support the weight of the camera when dangling it on a strap from a solitary wrist. Sometimes, also, these grips bring additional utility such as, in the case of the Fuji X100T, in helping keep the ball of the thumb away from sensitive buttons.
So far, though, I have associated thumb grips with rangefinder-style cameras: Leica and Fuji in particular. Indeed, I hadn’t thought a grip for a DSLR-style camera, with the central viewfinder hump, would be feasible. Enter the Lensmate Fuji X-T1 Thumbrest, which, contrary to popular prejudice, is not pronounced Thumb Breast.
It was my colleague Bill Palmer, now a died-in-the-wool Fuji fan, who suggested I try the Lensmate. He said it is as well made as Match Technical’s long-established Thumbs Up and is quite a bit cheaper.
Now I have my hands on the Lensmate I can understand Bill’s enthusiasm up to a point. The Thumbrest is finely crafted and fits the X-T1 perfectly. While the camera top plate is protected by a rubberised pad, as in the case of ThumbUPs, Lensmate has added a useful pad to the thumb hook itself, plus a serrated pad under the hot-shoe tongue to help keep the device secure. In the past I have sometimes found grips and other accessories (such as optical viewfinders) to be a rather loose fit. This innovation from Lensmate seems to solve the problem.
There is, however, one big difference between the Lensmate Thumbrest and Match Technical’s originals. It is all in the metal. Tim Isaac’s Thumbs Up is machined from brass and, typically, weighs 25g. The Lensmate is presumably aluminium and is a featherweight 10g. I do not believe this makes a difference to functionality, but the brass Thumbs Up is a craftsman-made device that feels better and more substantial. It also looks good when the paint starts of wear and the brassing effect is evident. I love the Thumbs Up grip for the Leica M and its quality matches that of the camera; and I appreciate the way the brass is now showing through at wear points. That said, the Thumbrest for the X-T1 does the job perfectly well and is a superb addition to this camera. With the useful integral front grip and the Thumbrest at the rear, the X-T1 handles even better.
The X-T1 Thumbrest costs $69.95 plus shipping. With standard international shipping it totalled £56.50.
I don’t dare thinking what a camera would cost if built by any of these two makers.
You have a point. The Match Technical Thumbs Up is hand crafted and, I suspect, requires a lot more work, not to mention the cost of the metal. It is small-scale production and therefore expensive. The Lensmate grip, on the other hand, is made from a cheaper material and probably machine-made. It ought to be a lot cheaper.
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