13 September 2013

DIY rig for X100 as replacement for failed strap eyelet / lug

I've been using a FujiFilm X100 since April 2011. Its images are amazing. The shutter is the quietest I've ever come across. It's great with off camera flash (I use Nikon Speedlites). Its viewfinder is sublime to use. The dials are in the right place. Manual focus via the focus lock button is spot on, most of the time.

However, there was a period of a few weeks when I got fed up with the thing. It crashed to the floor when the strap eyelets failed which shocked me. That never happened to me before and I've been at this for a quarter century now. I was not even aware that there was an issue with the lugs and their having been made of a too soft metal. Fortunately, the camera is well made (lugs aside) and no damage was caused on impact with the ground.

I contacted Fuji and was informed that it might cost me to have it fixed and I couldn't stand the thought of not having access to it for a few days so I had to come up with a solution myself.

I was not going to buy the Black Rapid as I could easily make my own. And so I did. I was thrilled initially.

However, I hated the camera hanging upside down as it was constantly banging off my body and twisting and turning every which way and I just could not get a handle on it. I carried it cross chest but still it flustered me. It was like an unruly child constantly seeking attention. It made for an unproductive relationship as it constantly interrupted the creative flow. In fact, this situation prevented any potential creative flow establishing itself.

Nor could I get it to wrap around my wrist very well while in the thick of a shooting situation. I was driven to distraction.

I visited my local DIY shop and spoke to the crew there. I've gotten to know them well over the years as I do a lot of tinkering. I explained the situation and we chatted for a while but couldn't come up with any ideas to replace the strap lugs.

I woke up the next morning, however, knowing exactly what I would do to try to compensate to again carry the camera like it was meant to be carried.

I started off with a piece of sheet metal that I found in a nearby site skip. I'll often pick up bits and pieces I find on my wanderings that I think might be useful for my various DIY projects. I found it about three years ago and used it to make a rig for an Olympus E-PL1 to add a microphone and HD screen for filmmaking purposes. This piece was an off cut which happened to fit my X100 needs perfectly. What a fluke. You can see where I marked out the X100's baseplate outline.

Using a bockety old Black and Decker Workmate I sawed off the bits of rim leaving only enough for the bottom baseplate.
For a secure hold I used two blocks of wood as illustrated.

Once the rim was trimmed off I carefully placed the piece between two blocks and secured it for bending. To bend it I used another piece of wood and gently but firmly hammered it to exactly 90 degrees.

After bending the sides up I removed the sharp
corners with a combination of cutting and filing.

Then I used some PVC / insulation tape to line
the edge where the strap ring would go so as to
protect the metal from ware and tear.

All that remained to do was to mount the X100
into it and secure it in position with a spare
tripod mount.

And that's it! That's all there is to it. It works very well for me. I softened the edges with a file so that the metal doesn't hurt my fingers while I work.

So if any fellow X100 photographers out there that have experienced strap lug failure and wish to continue to carry their camera in the upright position and secured at two points, rather than one as is the case using a Black Rapid / tripod socket solution, this might work for you. You should be able to easily source a similar piece of metal at a good DIY shop or perhaps you could use Meccano or similar. Please consider signing up to my mailing list for much more about my X100 experiences and to see my work as I make it.

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