Should You Use a Third Party Camera Grip?

I am a fan of camera grips especially on my Nikon D90. It’s an accessory that I like to use for shooting portraits or for longs days when I don’t want to change the battery. After extended use, however, I have found that they have some advantages and disadvantages.

And a recent experience taught me a very important lesson.

Pros of Using a Third Party Battery Grip

Shot with the Grip on in NYC on a photowalk

  • Cost – The cost of a third party grip tends to be much cheaper than one from the camera manufacturer. For my Nikon D90, a third party battery grip will run around $60 while the Nikon MD-D80 will run you over $100.
  • Functionality – A battery grip adds more functionality to a camera by giving you a vertical shutter release and therefore allowing for easier portrait shooting due to the ergonomic advantages. It also provides better stability. The grip can also work like a stand for the camera allowing you to sit the camera down on a level surface with the lens raised enough to get the right shots.
  • Battery – The grip houses a second battery which essentially doubles the battery life. Battery grips sometimes feature a tray that holds 6 AA batteries which come in handy when chargers are not available.
  • Look- Some people think the battery grips gives the camera a cooler look. The D90’s grip gives it a similar form factor to that of a Nikon D3X

Cons of Using a Third Party Battery Grip

My Grip - R.I.P.


  • Bulk – The grip adds size and weight to your camera. If your are keeping the grip on, you have to use bigger bags.
  • Kiss discreetness goodbye- With a battery grip on, you’re not hiding the camera. The extra size makes the camera more visible. It may not be the best choice for street photography.
  • You get what you pay for – The build quality of the third party grip just will not completely measure up to that of the OEM’s version. You do run the risk of the grips buttons not working correctly or the plastic being cheap. The screw that attaches it to the camera can break or the battery compartment could stop working, or both.

This Comes From Experience

I bought a third party grip. For a while, it worked very well. I got some great portrait images till that fateful day when the screw did break. Lately, the battery compartment has been acting weird and when one battery dies, the camera just shuts off. I also had to take a trip this year and I needed the camera. So I had to take it grip and all. I don’t regret buying the grip. It served me well, but I would not wish the issues I had with it on anyone. If you are going to buy a third party grip make sure you get it from a reputable store like B&H or Adorama because they can be held accountable.

Avoid buying battery grips on EBay or Craigslist because you’re rolling the dice there. If your are truly in doubt, buy it from the OEM. They specifically build their grips for their camera.

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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.