Last updated October 3, 2012
Our friend Walter Pretorius contacted us a while back to share the news of his latest creation and to see if we'd be interested in taking a look at it. Naturally, we jumped at the chance. If you're not familiar, Walter created the Walter RX Eyepiece (which we reviewed). We swear by it, since it scratches a particular itch extremely well - astigmatism - and shooting an M without glasses in spite of it.
This time around, he's created the Walter M-Stedi. As its name might lead you to believe, it's an ergonomic device designed to help steady your grip on the camera. In true Walter fashion, he brings us a unique new perspective on an age old issue.
The idea of the Walter M-Stedi is to provide a better, more stable way of holding the camera. We're all familiar with products like the Thumbie or Thumbs Up. There are also a variety of grips available - from Leica and third parties such as Really Right Stuff. The Walter M-Stedi can work with the former and perhaps obviate the need for the latter.
Let's take a look at some immediate advantages:
- It fits every M camera from the M3 to M9, MM and M
- Installation is easy and requires no tools or gluing
- Doesn't change your hold on the camera, like a grip would
- Can be used with any half case without modifications
- Does not block nor alter the geometry of the hot shoe
The way in which Walter accomplishes this is by attaching the M-Stedi to the lug of the camera. This area is inherently stronger than the hot shoe (where the Thumbs Up mounts) and doesn't require any double-sided tape (like the Thumbie) which is subject to slipping in hot climates. The actual lug is captured inside the M-Stedi, which comes apart in a few pieces for easy installation. No tools are needed, everything screws and unscrews by hand. Watch the video below to see how this is done. But won't the M-Stedi take away the lug, for use with a strap you ask? No! There is a freely rotating ring to which you can fasten your strap to. It's merely moved out 1cm or so. Very smart design element.
The idea of the M-Stedi is to provide a perch - allowing your camera to rest upon your fingers. This serves to steady the camera for slower shutter speed shooting in low light especially well. It also provides a more secure grip on the camera if you squeeze it between your fingers - especially when used with a Thumbs Up. The combination of the two practically join the camera to your body. You might not need nor want a thumb grip though and having one isn't necessary with the M-Stedi. So its primary design goal - proving a better grip and more stable support - is handily met.
The one area in which we didn't quite mesh well with it at first was the exact position (or circumference) of the M-Stedi for our own fingers. You'll notice in the picture above, the model has only one finger above the M-Stedi. Our fingers weren't quite that long to shoot comfortably with, which required placing two above the M-Stedi; in our case it just made for a more comfortable grip. You'll have to see for yourself just how the length and girth of your finger works out with the M-Stedi. You could hold your camera as you normally do, but hold a pencil in between your fingers (level with the lug) to approximate.
We tested the M-Stedi with both Leica M (digital) and Zeiss Ikon bodies. While it was designed with the Leica M in mind, because of the way it fastens to the strap lug - it also works with the Ikon. While the very slight curve on the M-Stedi collar doesn't quite match the lines of the Ikon, the leatherette (skin) absorbs any difference and allows for a solid connection.
Some folks have pointed out that it kind of juts out from the side of the camera. Clearly it does, there's no denying that. It's not as bad as you might imagine as it's not that long and the strap is still "in the right place." Whether this bothers you or not is a personal call and we'll leave that up to you to decide.
The M-Stedi comes in the standard semi-gloss black painted brass construction as with the RX Eyepiece. It matches both black paint and black chrome cameras fairly well and somewhat quickly brasses. It can be ordered directly from the website for $130 USD.
The Walter M-Stedi works as advertised - providing both a better grip and a more stable one of your camera. The approach is novel, the materials and craftsmanship top notch. Whether or not it will work for you is a personal call - but we give it a "thumbs up!"