Review: Sony VG-C1EM Vertical Grip for A7 A7R and A7S

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As technology changes, so have I. With Nikon not releasing the camera I wanted, I purchased the Sony A7. As I got comfortable with the Sony A7 there were certain aspects of the camera that were weird at times. One important issue was the size. It is great for my small lenses but when I use a big lens I really wish that the Sony A7 were designed to be bigger. This is especially true when shooting portraits. Luckily Sony has prepared for this when they released the camera.  They also released the Sony Vertical Battery Grip for Alpha A7, A7R and the  A7S.

And for the most part, it is the great equalizer.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The Vertical Battery Grip for Alpha A7, A7R and the A7S holds an extra battery to double the battery life.
  • The grip is light and does not add a lot of weight to the overall camera package.
  • The controls on the grip can be turned off when not in use.

Cons

  • There is nothing to store the grip in when not in use–so the contacts are exposed.
  • You can only hot swap one battery
  • You can not charge batteries with the grip connected

 

Gear Used

I used a Sony A7 of course. I used big lenses like the Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 on a Metabones adapter and the Helios 85mm 1.5

Tech Specs

From Adorama

  • Firm holding and control when shooting vertically

Shutter button is located at the low position for easy holding and positioning. All buttons are located in the most appropriate position for setting and controlling the camera when shooting vertically. Strap hole is added so the STP-GB1AM Grip Belt can easily be attached to the Vertical Grip.

  • Total of two NP-FW50 for enhanced power supply

Two NP-FW50 batteries (sold separately) double the battery performance compared to that of camera body alone. A battery with lower power in the grip is used first, and automatically switched over to the other when it runs out. Remaining power of current battery conveniently indicated in percentages on the camera’s LCD monitor.

  • Dust and moisture resistant design

Buttons, dials, battery cover and connecting terminal to the camera are securely sealed for dust and moisture protection.

  • Auto switching power

Auto switching to backup batteries for uninterrupted shooting. The batteries in the grip can be replaced without turning the camera power off.

Ergonomics

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The camera grip connects with a screw into the tripod socket. When done correctly, it feels really sturdy. It is not hard to take off but wont come off by mistake either–or at least that’s what we found.

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The faux leather grip is really comfortable. The on/off button for the grip is on the back and can not be mistakenly hit even by those with larger paws. The battery terminal slides in where the battery goes while two batteries sit inside the grip. The battery grip holds the detachable battery cover of the camera so you will not use it. It’s very convenient.

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The door for the battery seals against dust and a bit of moisture according to Sony. This switch is placed just right to avoid opening things my mistake. You have to make sure it’s closed or it will just pop open.

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The shutter and the C1 button are in great spots as well. They are the ideal size and only work if the grip is set to on. There is a spot for a camera strap as well if you want to change the position of your camera strap.

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The batter compartment slides completely out. Everything is clearly labeled. With the grip in the Sony A7 uses the which ever battery has the lowest amount of juice first. If both batteries are completely charged then it uses the first battery first then the second.

Build Quality

The Sony VGC1EM Digital Camera Battery Grip (its proper name) is built as solidly as the camera. There is sealing to prevent dust and other stuff from getting it. The grip is also light and doesn’t add very much to the overall package in hand. When I was shooting at a ballooning festival In NJ this paid off really well. The morning started off wet and as the day progressed it got dry and a little dusty. We were at an airport. With the dual batteries I did not have to worry about changing them. I pulled my camera out at 6:30 am and it went back in my bag at 4pm.

Ease of Use

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The grip only takes a bit of thought at first use. This is especially true if you don’t read the manual (and you should always read the manual.) There is not much to learn though. The biggest thing to learn is where to put the battery cover. Putting the batteries in and turning the grip on are the other things you need to know. The grip adds a bit of magnificence to the A7 cameras by making it look closer to its DSLR cousins, while keeping things nimble and light. It does not add extra frames per second like the Nikon Grips do for their DSLRs. Its more about balance. The shape looks a little weird compared to the DSLR Grips as well but it is comfortable. The grip also makes it much easier to use big lenses.

But perhaps the most important thing is the extra battery life. I have emptied a battery in the Sony A7 very quickly. This caused me to miss a shot. When you know you’re going to be in a situation where you are going to shooting for an extended amount of time, the grip comes in handy.

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Conclusions

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Phoblographer 4 Star rating

In all honesty it’s the perfect Sony A7 accessory for me. It was worth every penny, practical and adds a lot of functionality. To boot, having extra battery life, extra stability is useful. Putting the grip on the Sony A7 made me question my decision to upgrade my Nikon D700. When I want my camera small again, I just take it off. I once questioned if is a full frame mirrorless camera an option for a portrait or wedding photographer. I have come to realize that this all depends on the photographer. The Vertical Battery Grip for Alpha A7, A7R and the  A7S does make the camera a viable option.

We give this accessory a 4 out of 5.

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Gevon Servo

Gevon Servo aka @GServo is an eclectic, NJ/NY Photographer. He’s a Nikon shooter, by choice nevertheless, will always test any piece of photography equipment. He believes that like ‘Photography’, ‘Coffee’,’Beer’ and ‘Comics Books’ and other things ‘Geek’ “You must try everything once to discover what you want to try again.