web analytics

Review: J.B. Camera Designs Grip for Olympus OM-D EM-5

by Mike Pouliot on 12/09/2012

The first accessory that many current, or soon-to-be, OM-D owners take a look is the official OM-D grip put out by Olympus, the HLD-6. This is a pretty impressive grip but it priced at just under $300 which is rather steep for a grip. I understand there is a lot of technology/functionality built into the grip and it has two separate pieces (the grip and the battery), but some photographers (like me) only want the grip. Apparently I wasn’t alone because J.B. Camera Designs produced a grip that was exactly what I was looking for.

 

About J.B. Camera Designs

J.B. Camera Designs is basically a one man show run by, you guessed it, J.B. All grips are hand-poured into molds, hand-sanded and packed with a personal note from J.B. Because of the manufacturing process, J.B. Camera Designs is not able to pump out grips in mass quantities but it does mean each grip is carefully crafted and made with care.
 The material used for the grips is an extremely high-strength, two-part polyurethane. It is exclusive to the type of manufacturing process that J.B. Camera Designs uses to create these grips. Cool Fact: This material is also used to make large stage speaker horns for concert venues. J.B. chose to build grips from this material because it is lightweight, rigid, high-strength, extremely durable, and it sands/finishes uniquely like wood.
J.B. Camera Designs makes grips for many of today’s most popular cameras. All of his products can be purchased on Amazon.com.

Look and Feel

I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much from this grip. It’s under $50 and it’s made by someone hand-pouring polyurethane into molds. I thought it would be a cheap plastic grip that may last me a year or two but I figured it was worth a shot. All I can say is I was shocked when I received the grip.

The grip is extremely solid, I almost couldn’t believe it wasn’t metal when I first pulled it out of the box. It is also hand sanded to give it a slight texture which makes it easier to hold as smooth plastic can be slippery. But the best part is it fit’s the OM-D like a glove.

You can see the texture that is added to the grip by hand-sanding

The designer, J.B., took a great amount of time designing this grip. The grip large enough to be effective but it doesn’t add a too much bulk or weight to make it awkward or uncomfortable to use. The contoured shape of the grip follows the lines of the OM-D and does not block or inhibit any of the OM-D’s features like the tilt screen or battery door.

In Use

I’ll keep it short and sweet, this grip is an absolute joy to use. This is hands down the best accessory I have for my OM-D.

Personally, I find that the OM-D is comfortable to use without a grip when I’m using smaller lenses like the Panasonic 14mm or the Panasonic 20mm. But when you put on a larger prime or zoom lens on the OM-D, it becomes front-heavy and awkward to hold. The J.B. grip provides you with just the right amount of support so larger lenses will feel more at home on your OM-D. I used the Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4 with this grip and it felt like a match made in heaven. Instead of feeling front-heavy, the grip provides you with enough support to make the entire package (OM-D + 25mm) feel balanced.

My biggest concern with this grip was will it hinder access to the shutter and dials? Thankfully, this is not an issue. Because the grip does not extend to the top of the camera, you have the perfect amount of room to rest your middle finger on the top of the grip while your index finger rests on the shutter button. With your hand in this position, you can easily access all buttons and dials while using the grip without any strain or frustration.

Check out the video below for more on the grip.

Video

Conclusion

If you own an Olympus OM-D and you have yet to purchase a grip for it due to the cost of the official Olympus grip, you SERIOUSLY need to take a look at the J.B. Camera Designs grip. Yes, it doesn’t have the battery pack, extra shutter button or  extra dial. But, if you can live without those features, I think this is the best accessory you can buy for you OM-D and it’s less than $50!. I HIGHLY recommend this grip.

Please Support The Phoblographer

We love to bring you guys the latest and greatest news and gear related stuff. However, we can’t keep doing that unless we have your continued support. If you would like to purchase any of the items mentioned, please do so by clicking our links first and then purchasing the items as we then get a small portion of the sale to help run the website.

Also, please follow us on FacebookFlickr and Twitter.

Previous post:

Next post: