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Gear & Apps

Lolumina Soft Release Buttons| An Option for the Threadless Shutter

By Justin Heyes on April 24th 2015

When I look at Leicas or Fuji X-series cameras, I often fall in love with their stunning image quality wrapped in the allure of the tiny rangefinder-esque bodies. They are unobtrusive, inconspicuous, and non-intimating; three things that are perfect for street photography. Let’s not forget that the cameras themselves are drop dead gorgeous with their retro-inspired controls and classic looks. These looks have inspired cameras like the Nikon Df and the Olympus OMD series (something that hipsters everywhere will be thankful for).

Lolumina-Soft-Release_two-shutters

The one detail that I love the most about these cameras is the threaded shutter release. These were originally meant to attach a remote release cable. They are now antiquated with the inclusion of IR sensors and Wifi in the newest cameras, but a high contrast shutter button still possesses the romantic appeal of the film age.

[REWIND: Sony Zeiss 24-70mm F/4 ZA OSS | Review]

Lolumina-Soft-Release_buttons

Size comparison to Artisan Obscura Soft Release

Soft-release buttons serve a utilitarian purpose under their pleasing aesthetics. High-end cameras have a rubber o-ring under the shutter that gives a softer feel. The purpose is to provide a compression barrier between your finger and the firing mechanism. Adding a soft-release spreads pressure over a greater area allowing you to have more control when you activate the shutter. With the added benefit of reducing shake blur, soft-releases allow you to build up tension in a more organic way instead of mashing your finger onto the button, like so many point and shoots.

Lolumina-Soft-Release_shutter-release

Few modern cameras have a threaded shutter release; even Fuji didn’t add one to their flagship X-T1. Companies like CustomSLR and Artisan Obscura have provided options for soft-releases. In my opinion, gluing a piece of wood or silicone to your shutter doesn’t give you that level of feedback that a true soft-release would (especially in lower end cameras). One company I came across that offered a suitable option was Lolumia and their series of soft-releases.

Lolumina-Soft-Release_Glue-Curing

Waiting for the glue to ‘cure’

Like other products on the market, the Lolumia button mounts to your camera via semi-permanent adhesive, but that is where the similarities end. Instead of offering a one piece solution, Lolumia’s button has two stages. The base is a threaded shaft that sits on your shutter, a rubber gasket, and the button itself. The modular design allows for various designs to be swapped out.

Lolumina-Soft-Release_Complete-kit

Each kit contains two bases (one curved and one flat). Make sure you use the appropriate base for your camera. My EOS-M has a rounded shutter and cameras like the Pentax Q, or Sony A7R would required the flat base. The adhesive will “cure” fully in about 24 hours and will be semi-permanent. If you decide to remove the base, some dental floss can be used to remove it easily. Also in the kit is an alcohol prep pad, and extra o-ring, the soft-release and a handwritten, personalized ‘Thank You’ note.

Lolumina-Soft-Release_Handheld-shot

EOS-M 28mm f/2.8, 1/15 Second exposure hand-held

Lolumina-Soft-Release_handheld-100

100% Crop

At around $12, the little button can help steady your camera so you can concentrate on getting the shot. I feel less like I am mashing the shutter and more like using a precision tool, making my camera more enjoyable to use. I chose the concave button for my camera (I like a place for my finger to rest on), but if that isn’t for you, Lolumia also offers a convex option in a myriad of colors and sizes on their website here.

About

Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  2. Kate Jones

    Great article! I am looking for a solution very similar to this, but for the record button on an A7s. Since that button is tiny and recessed, I’d like to add an accessory like this to make using that button more efficient and less frustrating. Do you know of any company who is making something like that?

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  3. adam sanford

    The ProDot has been out for quite some time if you haven’t seen it before:
    http://www.customslr.com/products/prodot

    Note that much like back-button AF, a shutter button mod is not for everyone. I tried the ProDot on my 5D3 and it just felt ‘off’ in my hands — hard to explain. That said, some folks love it. Thankfully, the adhesive came off cleanly and my 5D3 shutter button looks like new.

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  4. Dave Haynie

    I don’t really know any hipsters. Lots of musicians, a few goth musicians, but not any real hipsters, so I can’t really speak to that. I do, however, remember the original idea of the “soft” button, along with the original version of some of these cameras. I think I had one of these screw-ins back in the day, but it really wasn’t a big deal. And I thought, once we got film cameras with the larger shutter button, that we were basically getting the “soft” button as a built-in.

    I’m not sure I’d claim that the Fujifilm X directly influenced the OM-D, given that Olympus had their digital Pen out two years before the X. Ok, sure, the Fujifilm X (and OM-D) have, I think, a more classic look than the Pens, but that’s more because the original Pens didn’t have quite the style you got in these other models.

    The Neo-retro look has been good for quite a few companies, and it goes back decades in other industries. Sure, for every new Beetle there’s a PT Cruiser, but overall a good thing. Most of the digitals I’ve owned, some very nice cameras, have been pretty forgettable in terms of the look. The OM-1 I owned in High School and the OM-4 I bought in Japan on my first big business trip out of college, I remember those to this day (still own ’em, too, but they don’t get much use). Some of the cameras of by-gone eras just had that certain something that’s not always achieved in black polycarbonate. I welcome them back!

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  5. Jim Johnson

    I got one of their previous versions and I have to say, I was really disappointed. When attached to a Nikon D7000, the new button covered the on/off switch. Tuning the camera or off resulted in screwing and unscrewing the soft release button from its pedestal until one day it just came off completely before I knew it.

    Strangely, I still have the screw post affixed to my shutter release, and I kinda like that. It’s like having a tiny soft release button that your finger will easily find.

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  6. J. Dennis Thomas

    “something that hipsters everywhere will be thankful for”

    Really? Can we get over this idea that these cameras are for “hipsters”. I’ve never seen a hipster with a Df or OM-D, and I live in a hipster neighborhood, in a hipster city, and I photograph hipster music festivals and hipster bands. I’ve never actually seen anyone, hipster or otherwise with either of these cameras.

    I think it’s time to put the word “hipster” behind us in the photography lexicon because it’s not relative. It’s a pejorative term started by people on camera forums that don’t even know what a hipster is.

    No, I’m not defending hipsters because I am a hipster. I’m well beyond the age of the hipster and I used “retro” cameras before they were actually retro. I’m just sick of seeing these cameras, which are great, constantly attached to this pointless and dismissive term “hipster”.

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    • Ralph Hightower

      Dennis, I agree. It’s time to retire hipster. I’m too old to be a part of the hipster subculture in the Millennial generation (I’m in the Baby Boomer generation). I continue to shoot retro cameras since my Canon A-1 that I bought new in 1980 still works; I added an used F-1N in 2013 because I’ve always wanted one. I did buy a DSLR near the end of 2013.

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  7. Will Gavillan

    I have a concave one on my A7ii, so far feels great. Just be careful of snagging as the shutter will be raised quite a bit with the addition of the soft release

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  8. Matthew Kozovski

    Got mine from them a few weeks back for my X-T1. Very pleased with it so far!

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  9. Lauchlan Toal

    I had no idea that this shutter release even existed, so while I won’t be needing this solution any time soon I’m glad to have learned about an interesting piece of photography history. Thanks!

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