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:
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:
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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 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…
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!