Sugru and the AF-On button fix
I'm a big fan of the AF-On button approach to focusing, or also commonly referred to as back button Focus. For those who have never used the back button approach, it takes a bit of getting used to but when you have done it, you'll find it hard to work any other way. It gives you the flexibility of AFC and AFS without having to change settings, something which can be valuable for occasions where you want to focus and recompose without moving the focus point.
For those who have never worked with back button focus, it may seem counter intuitive but after using it for a couple of weeks, it’s hard to go back to anything else.. There are plenty of videos that cover the back button focus and how it work so if you are not sure what, I suggest you do a search on YouTube and you’ll find plenty of tutorials.
My old Nikon D750 - This is what a decent size AF-On button looks like, and it isn't even a real one. I.e. it's the same assignment of a button as Fuji
The one challenge I found when I shifted to the X-T2 was the small size of the buttons when it comes to using AF-On. I understand that Fujifilm made the buttons small because of the compact size of the camera, but if you are going to offer a button for AF, it needs to be big enough to maintain pressure on and the current buttons are too small and shallow to offer that. Fujifilm really needed to make them 1-2mm longer, and ideally maybe about 2mm bigger in diameter. Yes, I’m well aware you can press the rear focus dial to achieve the same, but it’s doesn’t give the same level of accuracy as a button.
It didn’t take long to find out I wasn’t the only person with the problem and the solution to that problem seemed to be something called Sugru. Sugru is a modeling clay like substance that hardens into rubber. It can be used for a wide variety of purposes, one of them obviously being the ability to extend the current buttons to make new buttons.
Whenever you are sticking something to your camera you are going to get concerns, but in this case, it does come off without leaving residue, so there isn't any reason to be concern.
Obviously I can't do anything about the diameter of the button but I can do something about how far it sticks out, and thats where the Sugru comes in. The intention is to extend the length of the button using Sugru and make it about 1-2mm longer. From a Sugru perspective, you'll find Sugru in a number of retail stores but I picked up some eBay. It seems to be more readily available globally than in Australia.
The package I purchased had 8 packs in varying colours of Sugru for A$23. Why 8 packs? I figured I’d try using it for a number of different things so having a variety of colours was useful. Before you start playing with Sugru, it's worth watching some of the instructional videos on how to use it, mould it, texture it, etc. There are specific techniques you can use to achieve different textures, a rough texture or smooth depending on what you prefer. Wet your fingers and you can get a smooth glass like finish, use something like a grater to create a textured finish…you get the idea.
Personally I found the easiest way to create the button was to roll it into a small ball…and I mean really small. From there, you stick the ball onto the button and press soft down softly to allow it to take the shape of a button. Having a small blade or something small and sharp will allow for flexibility with moulding it.
It is very deceptive how little Sugru is required to make a single button. You could honestly create about 200 buttons from a single sachet of Sugru so don’t be scared to get a couple of fellow Fujifilm owners together if you know a couple of people who want to do it. You could even Sugru some of the other buttons if you want to extend some of the other buttons as well.
If you looking to use back button focus and are considering doing something like this, I would highly recommend it.