DSLR Camera Battery Grip

what is a battery grip

What is a battery grip and why would you want one?

A battery grip is a handy 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 that your camera will automatically use in succession. Battery grips also have 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.

comparison of a camera without and with a battery grip

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.

Comparison with and without battery grip

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.

how a battery grip WORKS 

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.

battery grip installationBattery grip's post slides into battery chamber

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.

how to install a battery grip

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.

DSLR camera battery doorDSLR camera battery door

DSLR battery compartmentDSLR battery compartment

Removed camera battery doorRemoved camera battery door

Here is the step by step method for installing your battery grip to your DSLR.

  1. Open the battery door on the bottom of your camera.
  2. Remove the battery from the battery compartment.
  3. Remove the battery compartment door.
  4. Fully insert the upward pointing shaft on your grip into the battery compartment.
  5. Tighten the thumb screw into the tripod mounting hole in the bottom of your camera.

what is a battery grip best used for

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.

list of advantages of using a battery grip

Vertical DSLR GripVertical orientation

  1. Many photographer's don't like rotating their wrists like this photographer is. The battery grip allows you to control and shoot in a portrait orientation with more comfort.
  2. With two charged batteries inserted in the grip you can shoot twice as long.
  3. Many photographers like the balanced weight distribution when using a big lens and a battery grip.
  4. You'll look and feel more like a professional photographer.  Some might say this is a bit shallow. It really may be a legitimate benefit to the pro or advanced amateur who wants to separate herself from the point and shoot crowd of photographers.

disadvantages of using a battery grip

DSLR camera and battery grip
  1. It cost money.   The Brand name ones like Canon and Nikon are much more expensive than the third party grips like Neewer, Photiv, Meike, and Zeikos.
  2. They make your camera bigger and heavier to carry.
  3. It's one more mechanical accessory that can break down.

best place to buy battery grips

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.

closing thoughts on whether battery grips are worth it

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

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Battery Grip Definition on Wikipedia