Olympus OM-D EM-5 : Custom Skin

Thought I’d write an entry that’s a little different from the usual fare on here and talk about a small project I took upon myself today. When I say small I mean that as it didn’t take more than half hour or so to complete. Below is what my Olympus OM-D EM-5 now look’s like, complete with red leatherette skin.

DSC_0017.jpg Looking sexy no?

As some of you may, or may not be, aware, My OM-1 has a navy blue custom blue leatherette skin. I did this mainly as the original black fake stuff wasn’t in great condition and because it made it look nice, after all why can’t it be functional and fashionable? The skin I used here came from the same place, a guy in Japan who hand makes them for an insane number of camera models, seriously check it out I’ll post a link at the end of this article. It’s got a nice feel to it, is already adhesive on the back and is not that much of a hassle to fit. Now when I worked on my OM-1 it took a little over 5 minutes to complete, this was a bit more in depth, mainly due to needing a few basic tools, some strong adhesive and a bit of old fashioned elbow grease.

Firstly I removed the original plastic skin on the front of the camera, a little bit of jimmying with the craft knife did the trick. Next up I gave the surface a little bit of a clean, peeling away the old glue and leaving a nicer, smoother surface for attaching the new skin. Next come’s the tricky bit, the leatherette skin will not bond cleanly or give the right depth of grip for the camera as the original plastic moulded one I’d removed, you first have to attach a brass plate that’s been pre-cut to shape. This brass plate (which I really should have photographed before I attached it so you could see) needs to be bent gently around the camera body to fit the contours of the camera. It’s a bit of a trial and error affair, holding the brass against the body and pushing it down to mould it to the correct shape, using the original plastic grip to give it the correct shape and pushing that against the camera helps as well.

DSC_0030.jpg Adhesive, craft knife, applicator for spreading the glue evenly.

Once the brass plate is the correct shape it needs to be stuck in place on the camera body, it does have an adhesive side but this isn’t particularly strong so this is where the glue comes in handy, helpfully the skin, brass and glue can all be purchased together (hence why the glue packaging has no English on it). squirting a small amount on to a piece of card allows you to then basically paint the glue evenly across the surface of the camera body, for this I used a cotton bud and the applicator in the photo above. Once this is evenly spread you can push the brass plates into place, hold them down firmly for a few minutes to make sure everything is set and then move on to the final part, fixing the actual skin.

As you saw earlier I went for the rather snazzy, if somewhat garish red, as it matches (almost) the wrist strap I have attached already. The skin is also adhesive on one side and will stick easily to the brass so no need for the glue this time, what is useful however is to slightly dampen the sticky side as this will delay the glue setting so you can fine tune the positioning of the skin against the camera body. Then, ecco qua, all done.

Personally I quite like how this has turned out, granted the colour is quite bright but it’s to my personal taste. If you’d like to try anything similar yourself check out the website where I’ve bought these kits from, despite being air mailed from Japan they’ve always turned up very quickly in the post (I’m UK based and I’m talking a few days at most for them to arrive). Link for the website is below, don’t let the basic nature of the sight fool you, the products are very good quality.




  1. That colud be very useful for me. I am repairing an old Rolleiflex 35 and the surface is very damaged, so I will check the link. And yes, it looks sexy! 😉


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