If you are one of those photographers that are constantly on the go, shooting thousands of photographs on one gig, or if that is where you are heading, then the battery grip is one of those accessories that will find its way onto your camera eventually.
It is obvious that most photographers do not want to add more weight and make their cameras bigger and bulkier, but oftentimes that is a sacrifice you may have to make. And once you start using a battery grip, you won’t be able to go back to a camera without one.
Extra Battery, More Juice
One of the main reasons that the battery grips exist (hence the name) is the ability to have a second battery pack on your camera. In effect, this is doubling the amount of pictures you can take. Additionally, you can purchase spare trays which can be loaded up with batteries and swap them on the go.
Another cool thing about battery grips is that they can also be powered by AA batteries – 6 of them to be exact. In the box with every battery grip you get one tray for 2x battery packs and one tray for 6X AA batteries. Generally. the 6XAA batteries (if they are good capacity ones) will last for about 60-70% of the juice of the two battery packs, which is an excellent backup in case of crisis.
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Easy Vertical Shooting
Having to twist your arm every time you want to take a portrait oriented photograph can be a pain. Additionally, that hand position is nowhere near stable, inducing more handshake and effectively making your photos less sharp.
Having a vertical grip which will allow your hand to stay in the same position as if you were shooting horizontally provides you with a better grip for easier shooting. As an added bonus, your body won’t have to adjust and get accustomed to other weird positions for handholding the camera.
Besides the shutter button, you have most of the other essential controls that are around the grip handle on the camera itself. This means that you can do the same things that you would do while holding the camera using the normal grip.
Better Weight Balance
The battery grip adds more weight, which is not all that bad. Extra weight obviously makes the camera heavier, but since that weight is placed under and behind the lens, when you are using heavier lenses (especially longer ones) it helps mitigate the front center of gravity. This will put less strain on your wrist, and more strain on your larger hand muscles which are capable of hauling more weight anyway. Even though it adds weight, it may allow you to use the camera for longer periods of time.
Some battery grips provide some extra features for certain cameras. For example certain Nikon models benefit in several ways from the battery grip. Besides the aforementioned benefits, they also gain a slightly faster frame rate when a battery grip is fitted.
If you get aftermarket grips, which aren’t made by the camera manufacturer themselves, especially for the older camera models (for example Canon EOS 30D), you can get some quite fun capabilities. For example, some top quality battery grips come fitted with intervalometers and IR remote shutter releases, adding some great functionality to an old but still capable camera.
If you are shooting a smaller camera, something in the line of Canon EOS 1200D and you have larger hands, you’ll notice right away that you can’t fit all of your fingers on the regular grip. Probably your little finger will be dangling in mid air and it will be creating some nasty cramping in your hand. Once you attach a battery grip on that body, your whole palm can fit nice and snug. So in a way, a battery grip will not only improve your vertical shooting, it will improve your horizontal shooting as well.
If you ask me, I see no reason not to own and have a battery grip fitted on your camera. It improves it in almost any aspect, and at the end of the day it doesn’t increase the weight that much. Many photographers argue that the battery grip is a bit too bulky, especially for travel, but then again, while traveling you don’t have the luxury of charging the batteries whenever you want, and changing batteries in crowds is risky and opens a whole lot of options for thieves.
A battery grip gives you improved ergonomics, vertical shooting with full controls, more juice, a better centre of gravity, AA battery backup capabilities… the list goes on. What more could one possibly ask for?