I needed a vertical battery grip for my Fuji X-T1 to help shoot cross country runners, but:
- I typically don’t shoot vertically (I like to shoot wide since you see in panorama)
- And I like to have the smallest camera possible
- So paying full price on OEM was not what I wanted to do when I still have more equipment to buy that I would use more frequently.
Enter a generic battery grip (the one I bought is branded Meike, but I believe it is marketed as Neewer, too). You can find lots of photos if you search online, so instead of rehashing everything, here are some things I found interesting.
First off, the grip works great for cross country shooting. The grip is deeper than the X-T1 grip as you can see above, so it feels very secure. The shutter release button was very responsive, but I miss the hair-trigger quality I got from adding a soft button to my X-T1’s shutter button (but I’m not crazy enough to add a soft button to a battery grip).
If you have both batteries installed, they get separate battery status indicators, and, so far, my X-T1 drains the battery grip battery first.
And that empty indentation on the right of the trip? It is to store the contacts cover.
There is a very noticeable gap between the camera and grip even with the lock very tightly attached. The above photo looks exaggerated due to the light going through bleeding a little (the space is not that bad). It wobbles a bit, but only if you are feeling for it — it doesn’t feel like it will come off.
I should have also noted that the posts are plastic instead of Fuji’s metal posts. This is probably only a problem if you have a very heavy lens or stress your battery grip frequently. The added stress in the long run may make the plastic posts fail.
Now the big issue.
Like many others, I found that the battery spring on the generic is too strong for the small plastic battery clip (seen above). I had to hold down the battery in to keep the clip in place). This clip bends quite a bit which is why it gives so easily.
This causes the battery compartment door to be under a lot of stress. The lock was not meant to hold in the battery so this would probably lead to failure.
I have read that some trim down this spring, but I was unable to with several wire cutters. This spring is very tough! But I was able to bend it enough to reduce the tension, so now it operates better. (Only do this if you know what you are doing! You don’t want to fry your camera!) I would not have attempted to do this if it wasn’t for the fact that this generic grip cost less than 1/3 the OEM price.
Does the grip help improve horizontal/landscape grip?
Some have reported that this helped them hold the X-T1 better (when not shooting vertically), it might, but I get the same benefits by two other products that I use already that don’t add that much weight. (But this is my personal preference.)
- I use a thumbrest which raises your palm which then gives you a better grip on the camera
- Plus, I use Fuji’s small base plate (to attach a Peak Design plate) which gives my pinky a place to grip
- **Update 11/2015** I purchased a Fuji MHG-XT Large hand grip and prefer it by itself (no thumbrest). Review here.
Will this help shooting from a monopod?
When I shoot kid’s soccer with my canon 7D, I shoot with the camera on a monopod.
A few fingers of my left hand are resting on the tripod mount on my Canon 70-200mm while the rest of my fingers are working the zoom. It’s a perfect distance.
With a short ARCA plate, I was able to make a small ledge for my left fingers for the X-T1 and XC 50-230mm. The ledge is tight, and this doesn’t work if the distance is increased by the battery grip (gap is then too large).
My right hand is typically in the hand strap to lighten the load on my arm, and, although the battery grip add a little ledge for my fingers to pile down onto my pinky, this did not help much.
There are numerous hand grips available for the X-T1 with what appears to be a ledge for the middle finger. I will update this post if I end up getting one of these.
What would really help is a hand strap which I have for my Canon DSLR bodies, but, although the battery grip has a spot to attach a hand strap, it is pretty useless.
The attachment point on the X-T1 is designed for a wrist strap. The attachment point is located between the index and middle finger. A hand strap would either:
- Cut between the index and middle finger, only secure 3 fingers AND would not allow the fingers to go forward enough to hold the camera
- Or, if you did place all 4 fingers in the hand strap, your index finger would be forced to bend awkwardly to get to the shutter release button because the X-T1 shutter button is not as far forward as on DSLRs (the Fuji X-T1 is mirrorless).
I tried this twice since I love the Peak Design Clutch on my Canon DSLR bodies, but it failed miserably both times.
However, there is a bigger issue
I didn’t notice this when hand holding the camera vertically, but when using the hand grip vertically on a monopod, your palm digs into the camera harder. This is not an issue with the Canon 7D grip, but the Fuji grips have a thumb wheel located right in your palm. This might not be an issue for the genuine Fuji grip, but the generic wheel was sharp enough to be uncomfortable.
It too long enough to occur to me that I could smooth out the sharp edges in the thumb wheel. Post coming soon.
I had planned to only use this battery grip for the occasional opportunity to shoot cross country or ziplining. When I am out and about, I prefer the smallest/lightest camera I can get. However, I have some other uses in mind.
- I like to hold my camera vertically to shoot panoramas and this battery grip seems to help keep the camera more level
- If I have a battery grip attached, I might shoot more vertical photos
The long run
I love reviews that include data on how the equipment is doing in the long run. Who cares if the Product X is great during testing if it conks out in just a few weeks. I will update this post if it has issues in the long run.