The Olympus OM Camera Grip 1attachment is an interesting little accessory. The only thing it provides is a tiny bit of lip for holding onto the camera when it is being carried in a ready position by the right hand. When actually shooting, it adds a little something, but doesn't really make much of a difference on or off. When carried by the right hand, this attachment allows the camera to be held with the thumb and middle finger. Without the attachment, you need to squeeze a little harder and incorporate most of the fingers to keep from dropping the camera.
This is entirely different than when a winder or motordrive is attached to the camera. In this case, most of the hand and palm is used to hold the camera. These power attachments do have one distinct advantage, though. When you have the camera hanging down at your side, you can actually relax your finger and literally let it dangle from your fingertips. The winders actually do this a little better than the motordrives.
The usefulness of the grip depends a lot on the lens attached to the camera. I actually prefer the OM body to be gripless if I'm using my 24/2.8, 35/2.8, 50/1.4 or 100/2.8. But if the 35-80/2.8 or 100/2 is attached, the grip makes a lot of difference. Asking the question 'why" does reveal a dramatic change in how a camera is held based on weight and design of the lens. The older and shorter lenses really balance correctly with the left hand cradling the lens and body. Thumb and middle finger land on the focus ring, index finger landing on the aperture ring. It is very very natural for me to then carry and hold the camera with the left hand and when I bring the camera up to the eye, my right hand will then join the action and provide guiding, shutter-release and film-advance duties. With these lenses, the camera body itself is firmly planted in the upturned palm of the left hand.
The 100/2 and 35-80/2.8 present a totally different situation, though. The CG is shifted so far forward that the camera ends up landing in the heal of the hand and the fingers are farther forward of the camera body. In the case of the 35-80/2.8, the rings are reversed position with the aperture next to the lens mount, the zoom ring in the middle and the focus ring farther forward. Because the CG shift, the fingers are now load-bearing. Using a 35-80/2.8 on a driveless OM body is fatiguing after a while. I can carry and shoot an OM with 35/2.8 all day, but the 35-80/2.8 requires some assistance.
When you add a winder or drive to the right side of the camera, the right-hand becomes load-bearing. If it provides enough height, the camera will wedge in nicely into the heal of the hand and you get a lot of stability and load-capacity. This is one reason why the E-1 with battery-grip is so comfortable to hold. A motordrive or winder equipped OM body has the distinct advantage over many other systems by still allowing you to place the body into an upturned left hand with the fingers falling naturally to the focus and aperture rings. If the attachment height is too tall, you can't cradle the body at all and instead the left hand has to go palm down with the fingers wrapping over the top of the lens. The E-1 with battery-grip is at the absolute limit of size to allow for upturned palm holding.
The problem with adding a winder or motordrive to the OM body is that it completely alters the weight, size and holding shape of the camera. An OM body with MD2 and 35-80/2.8 is a heavy rig and not necessarily something that you want to take an a walk. The little grip attachment for the OM body is a nifty little compromise. The CG of the body-lens combination has shifted forward onto the upturned fingers of the left hand, but the lip now allows the right hand to take a little more of the weight as the same amount of squeeze by the right hand now increases its capacity/stability by probably 50%. The middle finger is able to anchor the body better with the thumb. It's not much, but it seems to be just enough to make a noticeable difference.
Comment by newspaperguy on 2012-01-19 14:27:53
I think the in-between step may be the CV grip produced for the Bessa rangefinders.
Here's a picture of one on an OM.
The only drawback I found was the loss of the tripod mount that is now occupied by the attaching screw.
Not a big problem, because there is enough stock in the base to drill and tap another hole still staying in line
with the lens axis.
Rick in Maryland
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