Opinion: Why Vertical Grips Are Overrated for Photographers

camera market
Vertical grips aren’t really necessary in photography, and they’re pretty overrated.

If you’re a photographer who really, seriously has a need for shooting with a vertical grip for business purposes that involve you padding your bottom line and ensuring that you can keep making money, then you can disregard this article. But, I feel like most photographers don’t do this. The vertical grip on a camera is the photographer’s equivalent to the person who buys a Toyota Corolla just to put a body kit, spoiler, LEDs, and rims on it while rolling through a suburban neighborhood with music that folks can hear a block away. While this doesn’t quite disturb the peace, it surely is obnoxious.

Here are some more in depth reasons why I think that vertical grips are overrated.

They’re Huge

Overcompensating for something?

Shove a camera with a battery grip and a lens in your camera bag and you’ll see how much more space it begins to occupy. As a former photojournalist who was all about doing this years ago, I realized quickly that I didn’t need it. Instead, what I needed was my back to not be so weighed down, so I started by taking out everything that was excessive. What came first was the grip on my 5D Mk II. The battery life (and arguably the battery life on most cameras, whether DSLR or mirrorless) will be enough to shoot for an entire day. If you need more juice, you can switch batteries; it doesn’t take that long.

The grip ends up taking space that could probably be configured for a lens, a laptop charger, etc.

Oh, you say you NEED it because of how big your hands are? Are you simply just holding the camera or are you holding it as if you’re going to shoot with it? Have you moved your pinky up accordingly?

All That Extra Battery Life When You Can Focus on Getting Better Photos Instead

“The vertical grip on a camera is the photographer’s equivalent to the person who buys a Toyota Corolla just to put a body kit, spoiler, LEDs, and rims on it while rolling through a suburban neighborhood with music on that folks can hear for a block down.”

Do you really, really need all that extra battery life? I’ve met photographers who shoot portraits in burst mode on their camera. Why? Why not just focus instead on nailing the shot the first time around instead of being wasteful? Shooting less has always been one of the best practices; it requires thinking through something carefully. As long as you remember that it’s you taking the pictures and not the camera, then you won’t use the camera as a crutch.

Again, this statement applies to you if you don’t NEED the grip for work. I genuinely don’t believe most photographers should see the grip as an imperative part of how and why they shoot.

They’re Heavy

Vertical grips add excess weight to the camera. In the case of mirrorless, isn’t the whole point to make the package lighter and smaller? Grips carry more battery power in them and are often made of magnesium, aluminum, and extra plastic to reinforce the ruggedness.

“The grip ends up taking up more space that could probably be configured for a lens, a laptop charger, etc.”

But if you take all the superfluous things out of your camera bag, your back and your shoulders will thank you.

They Don’t Make You Look Like a Pro

One of the craziest things that I’ve ever seen are those vertical grips for Canon Rebels. Really folks?

Holding a Camera Like That Doesn’t Stabilize Your Shot

Good form

Vertical grips are set up in a way that isn’t good for shooting. Your elbow goes off into the air and isn’t stable.

Bad Form

This is typically what using a vertical grip makes you do.

Good form

This is far more stable.