This is the first review I’ve posted on my site. It’s a little hole in the wall on the internet and not the big place that Overclockers is (for whom I was an editor for several years). However, Overclockers doesn’t lend itself to photo equipment reviews. Anyway, here’s a review of my first battery grip.
The Neewer BG-1T battery grip for the Canon 70D looks remarkably close to the official Canon BG-E14. The ergonomics and look of the grips seem identical. I can’t speak to build quality as this was an extra rather than a critical addition to my kit, thus $175 for the Canon was a bit steep. I got this Neewer version for only $26.49 shipped on eBay. Heck, even if it fails, you can get six of these for the price of one Canon grip. The Neewer grip comes well packaged in a solid box and surrounded by bubble wrap. It will easily survive the trip to you.
There isn’t much to an item like this, just the grip itself and an extra battery tray to hold six AA batteries if your two LP-E6 battery packs run out. Speaking of, I got a Vivitar branded pack for only $12.96 and it seems to be doing just fine. Again, it’s a far cry from the official Canon LP-E6, which goes for $59.
Just like the Canon version, the connections to the body appear gold plated. The screw that mounts it to the camera is solid and there is the little nub that fits perfectly to prevent the grip from turning.
The controls mirror those on the front and rear of your camera. They aren’t as…smooth, for lack of a better word, as the Canon controls. They function well though, and seem to be plenty solid. An example – the wheel has discernible and audible clicks as you rotate it, which the Canon doesn’t. It feels similar, but it’s audible.
The grip has a power switch, which enables and disables the controls.
The battery tray that’s installed houses two LP-E6 (or equivalent) batteries for many hours of shooting.
When you mount a battery grip to your camera, of course the battery door would get in the way, so you’ll have to remove that (which is simple). They smartly designed the grip with a little place to house the battery door so you won’t ever loose it. Very smart engineering.
Now that it’s all ready, let’s mount it to the camera! When installed the 70D is noticeably heavier. The grip is also…different. You can see on the back of the camera how the 70D’s thumb grip tapers down so it’s thinner. Because of the battery compartment, there is no such tapering on the back of the Neewer grip. The Canon looks like it’s the same, so it’s not a difference in grips, just a difference in feel between grip vs. camera. Anyway, here’s what the camera looks like with grip installed.
The grip feels great. It’s solid and despite the price tag, it doesn’t feel cheap at all. Once installed, there is very little give or flex. In use, when you shoot vertically it feels like a natural extension to the camera. You can make it flex if you try – it is only mounted with a single screw after all.
Aside from look & feel, an important test is whether the batteries are correctly identified and monitored by the camera. I’m happy to report it works just fine.
Frankly, there is absolutely nothing to complain about. The finish is very similar to the camera, the grip is comfortable, the controls work and it passes the battery info through to the camera without issue. As noted above, it doesn’t feel cheaply made at all and really feels like a natural extension to the 70D.
Grips in general take getting used to, and I’m not used to it yet. The system definitely weighs noticeably more and holding the camera is different if you’re used to putting your hand under your lens. There’s just an extra camera appendage under your palm that will take getting used to. I plan on leaving it on for a good while to see how getting used to it goes. Even if I do end up using it less often than camera without grip, it’s here, along with its double the battery life without changing batteries. This small of an investment is worth that assurance when it’s needed. Shooting vertically is definitely easier than contorting your wrist.
In any case, there is a whole lot to like about the Neewer BG-1T grip for the Canon 70D. For $26.49, you can’t go wrong!
UPDATE – June 18, 2014 – After using it for a time…
So, after a week or so of actual use, I have developed a love/hate relationship with the grip. First off, I love pretty much everything about it – the vertical control, the extra battery life, the feel in my hands; it’s all great. Aside from the extra weight, which really isn’t too bad, if my physical comfort and the use of the camera with a grip were the only considerations, it would remain on the camera 24/7, happily and comfortably.
But…and there is always a but…it felt like having a gripped camera was too much for an amateur. The entire time I used it (around family), I felt it was just, well, too much. Maybe it’s because I’ve never used a gripped camera before, but it made me very self-conscious to use. I felt like it stuck out like a sore thumb to the point of being distracting. The family didn’t seem to care or notice, but it still made me feel that way. If I were out on the street, I’d hesitate to even take it out gripped; feeling like people would be looking at me as though I were being weird.
All of that is, of course, a totally subjective feeling. If I could have vertical shooting controls without the extra size, that would be ideal, but that isn’t something that’s even possible. All of this makes me grateful it was $26.50 and not the $175 Canon model – I can take it off and leave it off most of the time without feeling any guilt at all. When I need the extra battery life, or if shooting vertically becomes more annoying, hey, I can pop it right back on in a few seconds, no problem.
However, none of this is to take away from the product itself, which performed spectacularly the entire time and I’m very pleased with it, especially for the price.