Fuji X-T1 vertical battery grip

(C) Dave Whenham
Image captured with Fuji X-T20 and 55-200 lens, manually focused with lens wide open 

Not a review of the Fuji X-T1 vertical battery grip as such but a brief update as it is pertinent to my evolving experience with the Fuji system. The X-T1 has gradually evolved into my main “serious” camera and I have previously commented on the button placement of the AF-L button which I use for back button focusing. No need to rehash the benefits but suffice to say I’ve found the placement a little too far too the right of the camera for intuitively finding it without looking at the camera. A £12 after market grip with built in Arca Swiss trIpod plate made some positive difference to the overall handling experience but had no impact on my ability to find the AF-L button instinctively.

i have always resisted the vertical battery grips for the Fujis, partly due to the price but largely because I bought into the system for its smaller form factor and lighter weight. I am however well aware of the benefits of vertical grips using them on both my Nikon bodies and indeed have used them on every DSLR I’ve owned over the years. I had the opportunity to purchase a mint condition Fuji grip however for an excellent price this week and on an impulse (no doubt GAS fuelled) bought it. It’s arrived this morning and I have to say it’s exceeded my expectations.

Taking off the grip this morning I was still a little unsure if I’d done the right thing as it made a very big difference to holding the camera, especially when not taking pictures.  That the vertical grip is well made will surprise no one and it fitted smoothly and easily. It looks like an integral part of the camera when in place being of the same finish as the X-T1 body. With the extra battery installed it adds surprisingly little to the perceived weight of the camera too. With the 55-200 attached to the body the grip adds that extra bulk which makes the whole set up feel more balanced in the hand.

I’ve just been in the garden shooting both horizontal and vertical format images to get a feel for how well it handles and it is a joy to use. The additional height means that when shooting horizontally the base of the camera nestles into the pad at the base of my thumb making it feel more secure despite the loss of the additional grip on the front of the body supplied by the metal grip I had been using. It doesn’t change the experience of looking for the AF-L button with my thumb as that is still impeded by the built in thumb rest on the camera body.

Vertically though is a different story. The AF-L button on the grip is perfectly placed for my thumb to rest on it whilst my forefinger rests on the shutter button built into the top (end?)  of the vertical grip. This is how I wish the main body was set up. Where the Focus Assist button sits on the main body would have been perfect for the AF-L button and given that, for me at least, the Focus Assist button is only used occasionally and then when looking at the camera, I do feel it could have very easily been swapped. Alas that function cannot be reassigned to another button.

So there we have it. The vertical grip adds extra stability to the body in my hands and makes shooting vertically so much easier. In vertical format back button focusing works like a charm and for the nominal extra weight is a much appreciated improvement. I say “perceived” and “nominal” with regard to weight by the way simply because rather than weigh everything I prefer to focus on what is important which is how the camera feels in my hand and not how far the needle goes around on my kitchen scales.