Canon s90

Richard Franiec’s Canon S90 grip

Written by Gail Bjork

This beautifully manufactured, lightweight custom grip makes holding your Canon s90 a lot easier. Every s90 owner should consider getting one for improved ergonomics.

s90-grip-closeupI’ve bought many digital camera accessories during several decades as a photo enthusiast. But I’ve never been more excited about any one in particular than I am about Richard Franiec’s custom grip for the Canon s90!

Here’s the reason.

The s90 isn’t the easiest or most intuitive camera to hold. In fact, it can be downright awkward until you adapt your method of holding it. And you most likely will need to adapt.

The s90 is small and its tiny dials and buttons are close in proximity. As mentioned elsewhere in this Blog, the rear Control Wheel in my experience is a pain. [Learn why]

All this changed after installing Richards grip.

Using the thumb rest with the gripA place to grab

The grip gives you something to grab onto. In fact, it’s alleviated my problem with the Control Wheel while taking photos.

When grasping the grip there is less need to press my thumb down tight on the back of the camera to hold it securely. Most of the pressure goes onto the grip itself with the middle finger. As a result, my thumb now rests more lightly on the thumb rest located on the back of the camera just below the Mode dial. In fact, my thumb now arches naturally and it no longer inadvertently hits the Control Wheel. Yippee!

The grip also makes carrying the camera in your hand easier when not in use. I don’t, however, solely rely on the grip because of its size. I always use the wrist strap.

Much improved ergonomics

Richard’s grip has significantly, and I mean significantly, improved the ergonomics of the s90, making it easier and more secure to hold and use. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the grip to anyone who owns a s90. It’s high quality and the color matches the camera perfectly. It hardly looks like an add-on.

Installing the s90 grip

s90 grip - top viewInstallation is quick and easy if  you follow the instructions included with the grip. It’s important to take a few “dry runs” before removing the backing material from the tape.

Simply clean the area with rubbing alcohol, remove the backing material and then carefully position the grip in place. In a half hour, the camera is ready to use and full bond takes effect in a couple of hours.

Richards grip is a much appreciated, worthwhile and wise investment. I’ve gone from liking my s90 to loving it because I can now concentrate on taking photos rather than worrying about the free wheeling control wheel.

Even under heavy use, the grip will stay on the camera indefinitely. However the grip can be removed if you want to by using dental floss.

How the s90 grip is manufactured

According to Richard, like all his accessories, the s90 grip is manufactured in limited numbers. What makes the grip special is the process itself of making it.

It starts with handling a camera and scrutinizing every aspect of its feel in the hand in relation to placement of the controls and overall comfort using it. This step is performed by several people and everyone’s feedback is carefully analyzed.

s90-grip2

The biggest challenge

The biggest challenge for the s90 grip is to find the right balance between the size of the camera and the grip itself. The goal is to not compromise overall good looks of the camera or the effectiveness of the grip.

Several step process

The machining process consists of several steps in different set ups and is performed on a CNC milling machine using ball nose tool and 3D machining method. The bottom of the grip is machined from solid block of aluminum to fit the special fixture for subsequent operations. Next the grip is mounted bottom side down and sculpting process of the top surface is performed in several more steps.

After machining is done, the grip is tumbled in a vibrating machine using special stones, then it is glass bead blasted to uniform finish.

Next, the grip undergoes anodizing process to match the color of the camera and improve surface toughness. Final inspection follows and adhesive is applied.


The current version of Richard’s grip fits on both the s90 and s95.

 


Richard makes grips for other camera models, as well as hot shoe covers, remote cable releases and other specialized camera accessories. For ordering and other information click here.

 

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

32 Comments

  • Hello,

    I have tried both the RF Grip and the Flipbac Grip on different cameras. Recently I put the Flipbac Grip on my S95. I have found the Flipbac Grip to be much better value at $10 versus $35 for the RF Grip. The RG grip is good but too expensive. The Flipbac Grip looks good, and in some ways feels better. Plus if I get another camera in the future (highly likely) I can transfer it to that camera because it flexes to the shape.

    flipbac.com

    Take care

  • jaydee, yes the camera with the grip will fit into the PSC900 case. It will fit snugly, so you won’t be able carry any extra cards or spare battery. Alternatively, many use the Lowepro Rezo 30 case, which cost under $11.00 U.S. You can carry the s90/95 with the grip installed, an extra battery and a couple of memory cards in it.

  • Will the camera fit into the Canon PSC900 leather case withe grip installed?  I don’t have my camera yet (on the way) but I did order the leather case.

  • Lisa, if a camera feels awkward in you hands, it may not be the right one for you.

    You can improve the feel of the s90 by using Richard Franiec’s custom grip. If the rear control wheel gives you problems, Lensmate offers a solution. These are additional costs over the price of the s90, but the price is about $100 less than when I first bought it. It currently is about $100 less than the Panasonic LX5.

    The LX5, a very fine and capable camera, is larger but has a built-in grip. The the lens cap is removable rather than integrated into the camera, which some find annoying. But this may be a minor issue if the camera feels better in your hands.

    I think the differences between the s90 and LX5 at the “long” end of the zoom are negligible.

    Another consideration is the Canon s95. While it still does not have a grip, the surface is textured and is easier to hold. The rear control dial is better too.

    I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these cameras; they all have plus and minuses. All have great image quality. In my opinion, ergonomics is very important so consider that in your final decision.

  • I’m trying to decide between the Cannon S90 and the Lumix LX5  . Any opinions out there? I like the way the Lumix feels and the wider angle lense, but the Cannon has a better zoom and colors are true to life on the screen. It does feel awkward though!! Thanks, Lisa

  • David, the SD4500 seems like a great camera. Just realize it doesn’t have a very fast lens like the S90/95 or the SD4000 (which I love, btw) so you may not get as good a low light performance as the other cameras I mentioned.

    The SD4500 also does not have a very wide angle lens but that may not be important to you. Neither do the Fuji 300 EXR or the Lumix ZS7. However, the both seem like very fine cameras.

    Since buying a digital camera always seems to involve compromise, decide which is more important to you: better low light performance or a longer zoom range.

  • Thanks so much for these great ideas about improving the grip. As I wrote months ago I had to return the S90 (even though the images were great) because the ergonomics were so terrible. One spends a lot of time in direct physical contact with a camera and I couldn’t stand the way the S90 felt.
    But alas I haven’t found anything to match so far. Might the new Canon 45oo be a good choice? The Fuji 300 EXR looks intriguing and so does the Lumix ZS7. But from reviews the Canon S90 still tops in image quality.
    Any advice will be welcomed. I have to shoot a bunch of pix for a new project and I MUST get a handy camera with very good images…maybe the Olympus “PEN” (or similar) might be small enough but I don’t want extra lenses.
     

  • Here’s a tip for a front grip. I did’t know about this nifty grip… so I put on a 1.25″ x 1.75″ piece of stair safety tape on the front of the body. You know, that grippy, kinda-gritty stuff that can be put on the end of stair noses to keep one from slipping. Years ago I bought a roll of the plastic type (not stone/ sandpaper type) and have found it invaluable to add grip to stuff). One can either cover the logo (like I did) or not. But it’s cheap, doesn’t add to the mass of the camera, and is slip-proof… even with gloves.

  • Below are the instructions from their website:

    Install Instructions

    Please, take a moment to review mounting instructions carefully before
    attaching the grip to the camera to avoid problems associated with improper
    mounting. Once you have it done, enjoy the different, more secure feeling
    when handling and holding your S90 even one handed.

    To mount the grip to the camera, please, follow the steps below:

    . Remove battery from camera and perform the “dry run” as described
    below: Before peeling backing material from VHB clear transfer tape, place
    grip on the camera with the rear radiused wall against the camera’s side.
    Line up grip to the center of the small radius on the bottom of front body
    panel. You should be able to see 2 steps: one created by battery door cover
    and the second one by the body covering itself. Make sure the notch on the
    bottom of the grip clears battery door in “open” position. Repeat this step
    until you feel comfortable with the layout.

    . Use rubbing alcohol (not included) to remove any impurities and skin
    oils from the mounting surface area on the camera. Wipe it dry.

    . Peel the backing material from the tape. Avoid touching sticky side
    with your fingers.

    . Position the grip without touching the camera and place it on very
    gently. Don’t apply pressure at this time. Make minor adjustments as needed
    for final alignment. Take your time to do it right.

    . Once in place, press grip down and from the side firmly, without
    inducing movement between the camera and the grip.

    . Your grip is now attached.

    . For best result keep pressing it in different spots to assure
    uniform bond. Always press in the direction perpendicular to the camera body
    at given spot.

    . Let the camera with the grip rest for short period of time (1/2 hour
    or so) before handling it. Full bond takes effect within several hours.

    Note: The adhesive used for mounting the CGS90 has exceptional holding power
    when grip is mounted properly onto the camera. Regardless of that, use of
    the wrist/neck strap is highly recommended to assure full safety .The grip
    can be removed when really needed without damaging the camera’s finish. It
    will require some effort and care while doing so. Contact Richard Franiec
    for specific tips before attempting removal. 

  • When you order the Grip from lensmateonline THEY DO NOT INCLUDE THE INSTRUCTIONS!
    Because they are saving on paper and the environment is their excuse.
    In very small letters and not BOLD is a link on the plastic envelope.
    I certainly missed it and was annoyed that the instructions were missing.
    You have to go to their website to find out the details.
    For $32 bucks they could include a paragraph or two.
    Irresponsible IMHO.

  • JJG, According to Richard, he’s not sure yet if the S90 grip will make perfect fit on s95. He says it should be usable but that most likely S95 will have its own custom grip. I’d hold off buying for a while. As soon as Richard lets me know, I’ll post the information here.

  • I have had the grip now for almost half a year.  I still love it and have not had any problems with it.

  • Simply put, do not buy the S90 without Richard’s grip.
    It’s invaluable. Without the grip, the camera can be quite difficult to hold.
    With the grip, it’s a dream.
     
     

  • Gail,
    Thanks for this very useful website, and the tip on Richard’s grip. I ordered and installed it, and it makes a huge difference in the handling of my S90.
     

  • Thanks Gail.
    I am not quite sure what I need, actually. 🙂
    Returned the S90 and still need a camera. Size is important as I don’t usually go out to shoot but need a camera small enough so that I will always have it with me.
    The Sony SD1200 is certainly a possibility or maybe the SD1400 — I can’t figure out Canon’s model numbers!
     

  • David, Richard’s grip improved the ergonomics for me, but I’m still not happy with the s90 because of the control wheel, which can change other than when just taking photos. I will eventually get a replacement but right now I personally can think of no other camera that offers me the combined features of the s90: small size, decent sensor size for better low light performance and very good image quality. So I’m biding my time until something similar with better ergonomics comes a long.

    If I didn’t feel like waiting, I’d consider are the Panasonic LX3 and the Canon Gll. They are not as small as the s90. If you can wait, my guess is that within six or so months there will be some worthy competitors on the market. Of course, if low light/high ISO performance wasn’t a priority, there are many fine digital cameras to chose from.

  • I just retuned my S90, which was very disappointing. But the ergonomics were so terrible — I just didn’t enjoy the camera’s feel and thus didn’t use it.

    What’s doubly odd is that I also have a Canon SD600 which has great ergonomics.

    I wish Canon would just have stuck with well-enough alone.

    Now I have to find a high-quality (don’t need manual but excellent lens and other electronics.) Any suggestion? Price not critical.

  • Chris,
    Removing the logo is a good thing.
    Thanks for this tip on how to do it!

    The grip looks awesome.  Because of all the reviews I ordered one right away.

    I’m in the UK also and the ordering information couldn’t be more clear.
    Check out his website at: http://www.kleptography.com/rf/#camera_s90

  • Just bought the camera and I’ve been so used to the Canon SD600 that the S90 feels large!

    But just as an option, maybe one of the Joby Gorillapods (www.joby.com) might work as an alternative. I’ve used it with the SD600 and liked it.

  • Also, try not to rub the Canon logo with alcohol while you are cleaning the camera, it will remove the paint.  This happened to me but luckily one I removed the white streaks I left on the body you couldn’t even tell it had happened.

  • I just got my grip installed and I love it.  One suggestion, that has worked really well for me, I would give to anybody having any issues with the loose wheel on the back is to cut two small 1/4″ by 3/8″ strip of black electrical tape and insert them (opposite each-other, sticky side facing away from the wheel) into the crack between the wheel and the body of the camera, and then fold them down so they are stuck against the body.
    This makes the wheel require a little more effort to turn.  It won’t turn any more on accident, it’s easier to go between pictures or settings without going too far, and you can click the wheel without it accidentally turning.  Doing this has improved my use of the camera immensely.

  • I bought Richard’s grip on the basis of reviews I’d read, before I bought my S90!  I don’t regret the purchase; the grip helps off set the no-touch area near the pop-up flash (my left index finger always wants to go there).   Well worth the money, makes the camera usable one-handed (when used with the strap).

  • it’s too bad it’s too expensive at $32.99.  it this was priced around $25 including tax and shipping i’d be ordering one now.

  • Just received my S90 grip yesterday. Installation was a breeze.
    I am a CNC machinst too and tell Richard he does good work.

  • I just received my S90 grip from Richard and couldn’t be happier. It is very well made & finished, and more importantly it delivers an almost unbelievable improvement in the camera’s handling. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

  • Would like to buy one of these. Could you advise how I would be able to obtain one from the UK please?

    Thank you

  • I haven’t had the S90 long, but until I got this grip it was like handling a bar of slightly wet bar of soap. It was easy to apply the grip and I’d say it is a must if you own the S90.

  • Hi Gail,

    I totally agree that the control wheel is a major problem. I consider it to be a poor engineering design and I would rather see it disabled. I have resorted to using the camera in the lame ‘auto’ mode just so I don’t ‘bump’ it in the P mode. I’m happy to hear that there is a grip that may eliminate this problem.

    MW