A few weeks ago I received a new LM10GRIP KameraKraft grip for my Leica M10-P. I also already have the LMGRIP for my M4-P. I must admit, I haven’t tried a lot of different grips for my Leicas, but now I’ve tried these ones, I’m pretty convinced I don’t need to try any others.
Vincent Bihler who designed these grips is someone I’ve been in contact with for a good while now. He’s written articles for 35mmc, and we chat fairly regularly. Despite this, I almost couldn’t believe it when he originally showed me the first version of his grip – it didn’t just look ‘OK’ like most Leica grips do, it actually looked really good… though it was clear it was going to come at a price!
It’s certainly fair to say that the KameraKraft grips are not the cheapest. Even the Leica brand M-Grip (14405) for the film cameras can be picked up second hand for not too much cash – they’re not the most attractive of things, but they serve the purpose. Of course, the Leica branded grips are far from the cheapest too. If you want to go really cheap, you can get a brightly coloured, colour changing or even a glow-in-the-dark 3D printed one from Butter Grips for pocket change. Not to everyone’s taste, but they are nonetheless a bit of fun – they work as a grip too. For some though, simply working as a grip might not be enough. If you’re looking for something that looks really good on the camera, and even has “features” beyond adding grip (and glowing in the dark), the KameraKraft LM grips might well appeal.
The KameraKraft LMGRIP V2.0
Since I received the KameraKraft LMGRIP camera grip first, I shall also talk about it first. The KameraKraft LMGRIP – which is now on its second version (V2.0) – is the grip designed for Leica film cameras. It attaches to the base of the camera by screwing to the tripod thread and will mount on everything from an M3 to M-A with the obvious exception of the M5. That said, it does come with the small caveat that if you want to use it with goggled lenses, you need to detach the grip before you mount the lens to the camera, else the tripod mount part of the grip will interfere with the lens.
This isn’t a problem for me, as I don’t have a lens with goggles. But then, I also don’t have an Arca standard tripod, or indeed have a particularly regular desire to use a tripod with my Leica cameras. My personal requirements aside though, the inclusion of an Arca mount is a pretty solid decision I think, and it in no way detracts from the overall design of the grip. In fact, if anything, the shape of the tripod mount on the bottom of the grip is actually quite aesthetically appealing.
Whilst on the subject of tripod mounts, it’s also worth pointing out that the LMGRIP has a centre-located tripod thread to replace the one that it screws into on the camera. In short, if you use your Leica with a tripod, either the Arca mount or centre-located thread, the LMGRIP will no doubt improve your user experience.
In addition to the tripod-based advantages, the KameraKraft LMGRIP also adds a 3rd strap lug on the bottom of the right hand side of the camera. I quite like having two strap lugs on one side of the camera and have carried my M4-P with the strap attached as such a couple of times. It does carry nicely like this, though I can imagine some people not finding much favour over the traditional way of attaching the strap. It is an option that it brings to the table though.
The final “feature” of the LMGRIP (beyond its function as a grip) is a section inside the grip that holds up to 4 LR44 batteries. Useful for your M6 or MP, very slightly less so the M7 which can take 4 x LR44 batteries, but is supposed to be used with 2 x 2LR44.
Of course, none of this is to talk of the KameraKraft LMGRIP as a grip. As a thing that makes a Leica film camera feel easier to hold, it definitely works. The shape of the grip part feels like it smoothly follows the profile of the edge of the camera around the front. Unlike some grips – and indeed the shape of the front of a lot of cameras – rather than it being a rounded smooth shape that your fingers clasp around, it has an abrupt edge with a concave shape for your fingers to clasp.
The result of this is what feels like a very firm hold of the camera. In fact, I might go as far to say that it almost feels a little uncomfortable to begin with, but with a little bit of use, I have found my hand finds a way to clasp the grip in a way that feels very natural, and to reiterate, very firm – certainly more firm than without the grip.
In summary, have basically no complaints about the KameraKraft LMGRIP at all. It screws tightly to the camera, feels nice (once you get used to it), improves grip, and looks awesome. If there is one tiny complaint it’s that it revealed to me that the baseplate of my Leica M4-P is not completely flat. The result of this is a slight gap at the opposite edge to where it is mounted to the camera. Of course, it’s hard to blame the LMGRIP for this since it’s actually an issue with my camera and no the KameraKraft grip itself
The KameraKraft LM10GRIP V1.0
Unlike the LMGRIP, the KameraKraft LM10GRIP is in the first design iteration (V1.0). As you might gather by the name, it is also specifically designed for the M10 series of digital Leicas. As of yet, there is no version for the M8, M9 and 240 shaped cameras.
In terms of how it functions, looks and feels as a grip, the KameraKraft LM10GRIP is very similar to the LMGRIP. It’s the same shape, the grip part has the same profile and it also has a Arca standard tripod mount as well as a standard tripod thread. Of course, it doesn’t have space for 4 LR44 batteries, but instead it features a slot for a second SD card.
For the similarities though, the KameraKraft LM10GRIP feels like a bit of a different beast to the LMGRIP. And this is all down to the fact that it mounts to the camera differently to how the LMGRIP does. The LMGRIP mounts over the top of the base plate, whereas the LM10GRIP actually replaces the baseplate. Not realising this was going to be the case when I first received it, this took me a few moments to get my head around. It felt a little unnatural taking the base plate off the camera – my primary concern was that it made me wonder if the new KameraKraft grip base plate was going to be as secure as the standard baseplate.
There were a couple of things that made me question this. To begin with, on the original baseplate there is a eyelet (for want of a better description) that hooks to the side of the camera. On the KameraKraft LM10GRIP the eyelet is included so it doesn’t hook onto the camera. I asked Vincent about why he made this design choice – his response made a lot of sense to be fair.
Because of how much the eyelet would stick up from the grip baseplate, it would need to be machined from a much larger billet of aluminium – the result of this is that it would cost significantly more to make. Vincent also makes the argument that since the grip screws into the tripod thread, it is actually very securely fitted to the base of the camera – at least as securely as the LMGRIP does anyway. I can understand the billet size issue, and I agree with the idea that it remains very tightly fitted, but the missing eyelet just leaves me slightly cold for some reason. YMMV.
Another concern I had was about the battery compartment. The original baseplate obviously very tightly secures the battery and SD card in place. On the KameraKraft LM10GRIP the battery is accessed via a very neatly designed hatch that allows quicker access than removing the grip would. In fact, it allows quicker access than the standard base plate too, which could definitely be seen as an advantage. The little concern I had was just with how the hatch is held shut. Rather than cliping shut like I might have expected, it is held shut with a tiny magnet.
Instinctively, this feels a little like it might not be very secure, but actually no amount of shaking it would have it open by accident, and the little slot for opening it with a finger nail is tucked away enough for it to be very unlikely that it would get caught on anything. And then of course is the fact that the battery is held in with a clip and the SD card by the slot mechanism anyway, so actually I think in practice it isn’t anything to worry about at all. It just took a moment to get my head around.
The KameraKraft LM10GRIP looks to also be just as well weather sealed as the original base plate too. As such, once I did get my head around the design choices, I found myself to be pretty much as comfortable with it as I am with the LMGRIP on my M4-P, and in fact, I think it looks even better on camera as the colour of the body of the grip better matches my M10-P more than the more matte finish of the LMGRIP matches my very tatty M4-P.
These KameraKraft grips aren’t cheap. I don’t think anyone would claim they are. But then, Leica cameras aren’t cheap. If you asked me to spend this sort of cash on a grip for me Chinon CE-4, I would definitely struggle to see the sense. Somehow though, attaching a luxy grip to a luxury camera feels a lot more natural.
Initial reservations about the LM10GRIP aside, I have ultimately found myself very impressed with these KameraKraft grips – there are cheaper options out there for sure, but if you’re looking for something with high quality of build, largely solid design principles that actually look good on your expensive Leica camera, I reckon these KameraKraft grips might well appeal!!
You can find out more about KameraKraft grips on the website here