I’ve been using an X-E1 for a while now and one thing I only just realised was that most people are right eye dominant, which is why they get that “rangefinder feel” for the X series rangefinder style bodies. I’m left eye dominant and I get a flat nose.
So the central viewfinder of the X-T1 makes no difference to me, and after handling it in a shop, I went out and bought one. It’s absolutely beautiful. For me, it’s far more solid than the X-E1 and feels much better in the hands. The controls are superior and easier to access. Now I can have full back button focus and I can change the ISO with a dial without going through menus.
Two things though that I wanted to improve on.
Modifying an X-T1 in the ways below isn’t too hard or expensive. It does take a bit of care and time to get it right though, so if you’re going to have a go, make sure you clear a working space and some time.
The buttons are very low profile. For me, with the camera to the eye, they are hard to find. When searching for solutions I came across someone who’d used Sugru to enhance this. (You don’t have to use red – I liked it!)
The picture doesn’t look great, but as it’s at such a small magnification, when you look at it with a normal eye, it looks fine. I’ve raised the profile of the AE-L, AF-L, Focus assist and “OK” buttons on the back, the shutter release and the front button (which I have set to electric/mechanical shutter). Will it come off? I’m sure with a careful application of dental floss and patience it will come off fine. To be honest though, once I’ve changed cameras again (and I’m not convinced I will!) I’ll probably get it converted to IR and sell on the X-E1.
The trick to getting the Sugru to look good is to mould it using damp fingers. With damp fingers, the Sugru smooths under the touch rather than coming off on your finger, or leaving a fingerprint on it. I also used a nail file to help mould it – again pressed it to a damp cloth before beginning, to stop the Sugru coming off on the file.
One thing that has been suggested is to raise the profile of the direction arrows. I am usually looking at the back of the camera when I use these buttons so that wasn’t such a huge problem for me. They’re not great in terms of access, but as well as not needing to find them blind, I can’t mould Sugru into banana shapes.
It’s been on for a few weeks now, and still seems firmly attached. The benefit of being able to find the buttons by feel is enormous. Maybe I have desensetised fingers, or maybe I’m just fat fingered. Either way, I think this was a great benefit. Raising the profile of the shutter release also works well for me. My finger sits more comfortably on the raised button and I like the red. I guess weather sealing meant no screw in shutter release for the X-T1 but that’s OK. It’s a minor thing.
The Eye Cup
The eye cup modification though has been a real help. One huge problem I have with most eye cups is that the sun shines on your eye and half-blinds you if it’s in “that” position. This eye cup though moulds to the eye and removes all extraneous light.
The Nikon eye piece was a wonderful “guess” buy. Initially I was going to take the Fuji eye piece apart (there are two tiny screws) but when I saw that the threaded Hoodman almost perfectly “screws” into the rubber of the factory fitted Fuji eye cup, I went a different route.
I made a couple of “dry” fits first, and with a little pushing and fiddling with a small flat headed screwdriver, it’s possible to literally screw the Hoodman into the the Fuji eye cup. It’s a tight fit and you may want to remove the metal mounting bracket, to ply the rubber a bit. Do it a couple of times to me sure you can do it “wet”. I then liberally applied Superglue and Sugru (I had leftover an nothing to fix) before meshing the two together. Superglue is nasty stuff and I ended up sacrificing a bit of tidiness for not getting it on my fingers. It doesn’t look pretty from the back but when it’s fixed to the camera it’s perfect.
As you can see below, the metal mounting bracket is held in with two screws. The rubber looks distorted (and it is) but it’s perfectly functional. Obviously this is a permanent job. The Hoodman and the factory eye piece will not be usable for anything else, but as a final solution for keeping the sun out of my eyes it’s brilliant.
One thing to note though, is that it blocks the “face” sensor, so if you have the viewfinder/back screen set to auto-detect, it will always assume a face in the way and show everything in the viewfinder. Also, if you’re right eye dominant, the cup goes the other way and might block the AE-L button. As a left eye dominant person, it blocks visual (but not finder) access to the playback & delete buttons. These issues do get in the way of reviewing my images as I shoot, but that’s more than made up for with the comfort of the soft eye cup.