Michael Topham tests the Artisan Obscura soft releases

Artisan Obscura soft releases at a glance:

The purpose of a soft shutter release is simple; it’s designed to improve the feel of your camera’s shutter button. They effectively raise the height of the shutter button so it sits fractionally higher than the original. It’s a small accessory that many photographers swear by to improve the handling of their camera. Artisan Obscura, a small American company based in Englewood, Colorado, has been specialising in the production of handmade soft shutter releases for more than three years. Originally set up by two friends who share a passion for woodwork and photography, the company has built up a wide range of solid wood soft releases and are best known for those that feature a tapered thread to fit cameras that have a screw-in type of shutter button.

On the company’s website, you’re given the choice of small (11mm) or large (13mm) sizes. The surface area of the large size soft shutter releases are perfect for those with medium to large sized fingers, whereas I’d recommend the small size for those with smaller hands. For our review we were sent two of each size in four different wood finishes – bocote, walnut, teak and bloodwood. As well as the convex type, which as its name suggests offers a raised surface, there’s the option to choose the concave type, which I’ve always found slightly more comfortable. My favourite of the four samples supplied was the large walnut example in the concave shape. Beautifully carved from wood and cleanly finished, it really felt and looked the part on the cameras I tested it with.

Although $30 (excluding international shipping to the UK) might seem like a lot to pay for what is the smallest accessory you’re ever likely to buy for your camera, these beautiful soft shutter releases provide a unique and rustic feel to your camera while improving the handling and shooting experience at the same time. They’re a great way of personalising your camera.

SCORE: 4.5 out of 5

You’ll find as many as 30 different soft shutter release designs and finishes on the company’s website