I have been asked this question on & off over time. So I have decided to write an article on this topic. I will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of using a battery or portrait grip first before going on to whether you should buy one or not.
- as the name suggest, most grips allow you to put in 2 batteries at the same time, so you will have double the battery power and shooting time compared to just using 1 battery without the battery grip.
- practically all DSLR use proprietary batteries. If you completely drain your battery and have no spare battery with you, you cannot just simply pop in some alkaline AA batteries and keep shooting. However, with some battery grips, it is possible to put alkaline batteries in them in emergency situation, so you will be able to continue shooting.
- the reason why battery grips are also called portrait grips is that there is a set of shutter release and other control buttons and dials duplicated in the grip itself, so when you are shooting in portrait orientation, you can rest your right hand on top of the grip and will not have to twist your hands around the camera to press the shutter release or use the other control buttons and dial.
- although the battery grip adds extra weight to the camera body, some people actually prefer holding a heavier body as some may find it easier to hold the camera steady for hand-held shots. The extra added weight may also act as a counterbalance when using heavy lenses, so the camera body and lens would balance better and not be so front heavy.
- there are some specialized grips that perform additional functions, like the WFI grips for Canon EOS 5D Mark II and EOS 50D. Although the WIFI grips for these cameras cannot provide extra battery power, they provie additional add on functions like WIFI file transfer and external USB drive connectivity.
- the most obvious disadvantage is that it makes the camera bulkier and heavier.
- it adds extra cost to your setup. It’s not like you cannot shoot photos without the grip.
- may not be cosmetically pleasing. Some people may find the add on grip rather ugly looking and may not be aesthetically pleasing.
If the advantages appeal to you, then you will most likely find a grip useful or almost indispensable. If however the advantages do not really apply to your shooting style and method, or you simply cannot tolerate the disadvantages, then the grip is not for you.
I hope after reading the advantages and disadvantages of using a grip, you can already decide for yourself whether you would want to use one or not. Actually, like many things in photography and in life, it is a question only you can answer for yourself. So long as you understand the rationale, the pros and cons, you should be able to make the right decision easily.