Gift Guide: Have You Considered a Battery Grip?

by | Dec 15, 2020

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

I test lots of cameras for Shutterbug as well as for this and my photography how-to blog but regular readers know when it comes to my personal cameras I tend to be thrifty. I may get to review high-end expensive cameras but contrary to what you might think; after I finish the review I must return them to the manufacturer. At least that’s the case for me.

That’s why all of my personal gear is funded out of my own wallet. Over time, I evolved a simply philosophy and even wrote a post explaining it called Don’t be equipment poor. When I have a need, not an urge, I tend to buy used or refurb gear. And guess what? This doesn’t affect the kind of images that I make. At least I don’t think so.

I’ve long been a fan of using battery grips for my DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, such as the one my Panasonic Lumix GH4, Lumix G9 and (soon) my Olympus E-M5 Mark I. One reason is that having two batteries instead of one lets me shoot for a long time without recharging a battery or having a battery on charge as a stand-by. At a shoot in Arizona, I was able to shoot all day while my colleagues where running back and forth to their chargers to get batteries. Some DSLR battery grips, like one for my Canon DSLR,  include a tray that lets you use AA batteries to shoot if you forget the charger. It’s happened to me.

How I made this shot: I photographed this Morgan Three-Wheeler at Cars & Coffee in Parker, Colorado using my Panasonic Lumix G9 with a third-party battery grip. While the photo was not affected by the use of the grip the extra battery power would have let me shoot all day without running our of power. Plus the grip itself made the camera that much easier to hang onto. Lens used was The Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 (at 28mm.) Program mode exposure was 1/500 sec at f/10 and ISO 320, my ISO of choice for a typical Cars & Coffee event because of the flexibility in controlling exposure.

I was once asked how I held a camera when making vertical shots. Shooting verticals with a battery grip lets me hold the camera steady against my face instead of the classic “elbow waving in the air” position and I think this position gives me more control over in-camera cropping, which I prefer to do. Another advantage is that in addition to the vertical shutter release the grip usually has a control wheel allowing you to  change camera functions.

But for my older cameras, such as the aforementioned Olympus E-M5 Mark I, I’m using the two-part HLD-6 grip/power battery holder. The grip is ideal for use when shooting vertically and features an additional shutter release as a pair of assignable function buttons for adjusting camera settings. This grip also has a DC-IN jack for continuous power via Oly’s AC-3 Power Adapter and it accepta a second BLN-1 lithium-ion battery to double the camera’s battery life. When shooting with the second battery, you can configure which battery to use first and the camera automatically switches between the two for uninterrupted shooting. I bought mine used from Roberts Camera and I have seen the pair sold for $100 or even less.

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