What is a battery grip and why would you want one?
A battery grip is an accessory that attaches to the bottom of a DSLR cameras and provides extra battery power as well as a couple of other advantageous features. A grip can accept two of your camera's regular batteries and has various camera control setting buttons and dials to use when you hold your camera in a vertical position.
This post will cover the pluses and minuses of using a grip, how to install a battery grips, and whether a battery grip is worth having.
Here's a visual comparison of what a typical DSLR looks like without a battery grip and with a grip. My biggest gripe with battery grips is the added size and the added weight. That's really the only major issue with grips and, depending on what shooting situation you're in, that may not be significant at all.
If you're backpacking, where every ounce of weight and cubic inch of space matters, the extra size and weight is a deal killer. If you;re sticking to one location and your camera is mounted on a tripod the size and weight don;t matter at all.
The battery grip attaches to the bottom of the camera and matches up in "footprint" size. Once installed your grip looks like a part of your camera and your camera just appears taller.
It adds size and weight to your equipment and may affect how it fits into your camera bag. Some grips have a cartridge that holds the batteries and slides into the grip. With other grips the batteries slide directly into the grip.
Once installed properly, electrical contacts on the grip enable it to adjust camera settings with buttons and dials. These settings will vary by camera brand and by individual battery grip models.
Most of the issues and questions about how to install a battery grip onto a camera involve preparing you camera for the grip. The grip itself is easily attached by inserting the upward facing shaft into the battery compartment and tightening the screw into the tripod mount hole. Most installations begin with removal of the battery and the battery compartment door as shown below.
Here is the step by step method for installing your battery grip to your DSLR.
There are two chief purposes of using a battery grip on a DSLR. First, it will extend the number of photos you can take without changing or charging batteries.
The second main reason of using a battery grip is for the use of the camera controls, especially the shutter button when the camera is held in a vertical (portrait) orientation.
A third benefit of using a battery grip involves balance. When using a long heavy telephoto lens, your battery grip will help give you a more even balance in the weight distribution and how your DSLR feels in your hands.
Any of the major camera retailers either stock these grips or can order them for you. In today's world a big majority of photographers buy their cameras and accessories online.
Frequent readers of the Digital Photography Tips website know I became a big fan of Amazon a few years ago after the early years of buying used equipment on ebay and more recent years of buying equipment from B+H Photo in New York City.
B+H Photo is very good and has a huge array of electronic and photographic equipment. I just like Amazon better because of their competitive prices, speed of delivery, return policy and customer reviews.
In one word or less, yes. Battery grips are worth it because you have lots of choices and they've come down so much in price. They're not for everybody, for sure. I don't use one, but I'm a wimp when it comes to carrying extra weight even though battery grips really aren't that heavy. They weigh between 1/4 and 3/4 lbs, depending on the specific model and whether you have them loaded with batteries or not.
COST. This is the elephant in the room. The price of battery grips varies greatly. The cheaper third party grips sell for as low as $25 and brand name battery grips like the BG-E11 for my Canon 5D Mark III sells for around $200. To be safe, only buy a non-brand grip if there are ample positive reviews on the specific model you're considering.
Bottom line is that they're easy to install yourself whenever you feel inclined to use yours. They're fun to use and give your camera a ton of shooting capacity provided you're equipped with sufficient memory too.
Reviews on Specific DSLR Battery Grips at Amazon