Butter? But… er… – the 3D printed accessories you will love, hate, or maybe both!?

December 17, 2018

Once in a while someone asks me if I’d like them to send me something to look at that I just have to turn down. Usually this is something that doesn’t appeal to me, or doesn’t fit the usual content of the website somehow. Sometimes I just don’t like the look of whatever thing it is, and know I won’t have anything nice to say. Something I never dreamed possible was that I’d be asked if I would like to look at a product that manages to surpass my distaste to the point that I actually like it… that was until I was introduced to Butter…

Butter is a brand of 3D printed camera accessories made by a man called Ethan. Ethan is also the man behind the Cameradactyl large format camera; a camera that looks like this:

Image borrowed from the successful Cameradactyl Kickstarter campaign

I think it’s fair to say that Ethan treads that fine line between genius and crackpot. When I first saw the Cameradactyl camera, I definitely saw the work of a crackpot. As I’ve got to know him in the small way I have since then, what I’ve actually found is… well… yeah… a crackpot! I mean seriously, what kind of a person would make a heat sensitive, purple to pink colour changing grip for a Leica camera?!

The answer is of course the same kind of person, who adds a manual shutter to a Yashica Electro, and the same kind of person that makes an Arduino shutter speed tester… and indeed the same kind of person thats currently designing a new shoe mounted light meter:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Butros Butros (@buttergrip) on

So yeah, crackpot? Genius? You decide – it’s definitely a fine line. One way or another despite what has probably so far sounded like a quite disparaging few paragraphs, I think all this stuff is brilliant! And I have a ton of respect for Ethan and his whacky ways… Especially for how much it all divides opinions.

This is of course the real genius bit. Obviously it takes skill to design and make these things in the first place – Ethan is clearly a talented chap with fairly solid design and technical skills. But the real genius here is making a product that’s unique. Say what you want about these designs, but you can’t deny the fact that they stand out from the usual crowd of chrome, black and leather. The result of this is pretty obvious to me – Ethan has created a bit of a niche product that people will either love or hate.

My Butter accessories

All that out of the way, I suppose I’d better comment on the actual products themselves… The two things Ethan sent me were one of his 3D printed film storage boxes and a colour changing Leica grip.

The grip

The grip changes from a base purple colour that’s the same as the outer part of the film case to a pink that’s the same colour as the inner part. A matching set!

It terms of the design itself, it’s a fairly standard hand grip. It’s slightly on the large side in terms of the volume of the thing in your hand, but it fits the camera exactly as it should. If anything, it’s slightly tight in a well-fitted way, if that makes sense? Holding it with a warm hand for a couple of seconds makes it change colour.

Of course you don’t have to have a colour changing one, there are 11 fixed colours (including black), 3 colour changing colours and one in glow-in-the-dark semi-translucent(!) There are also designs for a lot of common cameras!

The film case

The first thing that struck me about the film case was the prominent branding. If you’re going to design a bright purple and pink product like this, I suppose you might as well go balls out with the logo too.

The case opens with a tap-handle shaped screw release on the one end. The main thing worth noting here is that once it’s unscrewed, it’s lose from the outer case too, so you’d need to mind you don’t drop it – not that it would break if you did I wouldn’t have thought; you just wouldn’t want to lose it.

It holds 5 rolls of film, and with 12 colours of plastic there are a whole stack of colour ways available – even black…

Final thoughts

If you asked any of my mates if they’d ever expect to see me walking down the road sporting a purple/pink hand grip on my camera, they’d tell you in no uncertain terms that I’m just not that kind of person. I’ve not even bought a t-shirt with a slogan or logo on for about 15 years, and most of my clothes are a shade of brown, dark blue or grey. I am a dull person when it comes to fashion. For that reason, the chance of me spending much time shooting any of my Leica cameras with a purple/pink hand grip attached is fairly minimal.

Of course I’m just boring me. If you’ve actually got some sort of personality, you might also be the type to want to reflect it somehow by attaching a garish lump of plastic to the bottom of your camera. There’s no denying that these grips work as they should, are comfortable enough to use, and fit the camera as well as you could expect. And as for the film case… well, I can hide that in one of my dull black, brown or grey bags and no one will be any the wiser…

All joking aside, I genuinely think a lot of Ethan’s endeavours. Whilst some of his designs might be a bit whacky for my taste, I know there’ll be people out there who love them… and if you don’t like the bright colours, there’s always the black versions. One way or another, even if you’re not interested in this kit, Ethan is definitely someone in the film photography community worth keeping an eye on!

You can follow Butter Grip on Instagram here
You can buy the grips, film cases and no doubt further inventions here

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  • Reply
    Terry B
    December 17, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    Hamish, when I started to read this post my first thought was “Why another M grip?” Why not for cameras that don’t usually take them? I was thinking how useful it would be to have a bespoke grip for some old, and quite heavy, 35mm cameras, such as the original Voigtlander Bessamatic II, or Nikon F, quite heavy cameras that would benefit by the addition of a grip. Then I clicked on the link and, wow, what a surprise. No Bessamatic, but yes for the Nikon F, and many other cameras, and not necessarily heavy ones.
    I can’t say that I am moved by the colour options, but good old bog standard black would be the option.

  • Reply
    December 17, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    “Butter Grip” that is genius crackpot branding!

  • Reply
    Malcolm Myers
    December 17, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    I admire Ethan and his work just as much as I admire Steve at Chroma Camera, Sam at Solarcan, the people at Intrepid, I could go on. In fact, I admire anyone who has the creative ability to come up with a new film photography product, market it and sell it (Hamish included). I think the world of film photography would be the poorer without them. If you don’t like it you don’t have to buy it but just remember, it’s people like Ethan who will help film photography grow. If people want to criticise perhaps they should try and make a product. Either that or shut up. And if nothing else I admire Ethan for the amount of column inches his ideas have generated. Of for that sort of marketing in my business!

  • Reply
    jeremy north
    December 17, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    I think he must be whacky but having said that he’s tapped in to the ‘zeitgeist’ of the new film photography crowd. It’s not to my personal taste, but I think his products will be very popular and I wish him lots success.

  • Reply
    Adam Laws
    December 19, 2018 at 11:16 am

    I think they’re blooming marvelous. It’s great to see an ingenious and somewhat slightly eccentric products coming to market. Hopefully with 3d printing becoming more mainstream there will be an abundance of creative products and micro businesses keeping our passion alive.

  • Reply
    Andrew Fildes
    November 16, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    I have a Camreadactyl in my store at the moment – one of those things that comes in and I keep for a while as a vonversation piece. Works quite well with a nice Fujinon but LF isn’t my thing and I don’t think it is a fit with those who go that way so it’s a curiosity I’ll have to sell it off cheaply. Garish Leica accessories are in the same category – don’t suit the Doctor’Lawyer traditional Western demographic but the Asian buyers like stuff like that. I’ll check out the black non-Fluoro/Hypercolor versions perhaps. A good shoe-mount meter is a good idea. I use a Voigtlander VC2 on a range of old vameras (Minolta 35 Type 2 this week) but it has a suicidal tendency – tends to drop out of a loose unsprung shoe (common) and then the battery cover pops off on impact and the batteries jump out and run away. Not forgivable in the second iteration of a very expensive (but otherwise excellent) unit. Otherwise, more power to the Butter product line – this kind of lunacy should be encouraged!

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      November 17, 2020 at 2:10 pm

      “this kind of lunacy should be encouraged” I couldn’t agree more!

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