Phottix BG-5D III Battery Grip for Canon EOS 5D Mark III Review
Phottix BG-5D III for Canon EOS 5D Mark III
$100 / £60 www.phottix.com
The Phottix BG-5DIII battery grip is a budget-friendly option for doubling the 5D Mark III's battery life and enhancing its ergonomics. The unit's reduced price tag does come with a few downgrades when compared with Canon's BG-E11 grip, but many users won't be affected by the difference. The big question is whether or not it's worth plunging an extra $140 into Canon's superior model, or going with the Phottix to free up more capital for other accessories. Let's dive in and find out.
- Mimics Canon's BG-E11 ergonomic rubberized grip design
- AF/On, FEL and AF Points buttons, command dial, vertical shutter button and power switch
- Vertical shooting with an additional shutter release and scroll wheel
- Holds 6 AA batteries or 2 LP-E6 batteries
- Tripod socket with metal threads
- 1-year warranty
- 6 x 1, 7/8 x 3, 3/8 in. (15.4 x 4.8 x 8.6 cm), 1 lb. 3.2 ounces, (540g)
In terms of its design and general layout, the Phottix BG-5DIII is all but identical to Canon's BG-E11. The unit delivers its power by plugging into the 5D Mark III's battery port after removing the battery door. It secures into the 5D Mark III's tripod threads by turning a large tension dial. Once ratcheted down significantly, I found that the Phottix BG-5DIII stayed glued to the bottom of my 5D Mark III all throughout my shoots, never loosening even the slightest.
|The Phottix BG-5DIII comes with two battery trays. One holds two LP-E6 battery packs while the other holds 6 AA batteries.|
Cosmetically, too, the Phottix BG-5DIII looks nearly identical to the Canon BG-E11, but upon further inspection, the texture of the rubberized grip is finer than the Canon-branded grip. It's barely noticeable at a casual glance, but Canon's grip is a better match for the rubber on the 5D III.
The other main difference between these grips - and a far more important one - is that the Phottix BG-5DIII is made of a polycarbonate material while the Canon BG-E11 is made with weatherized magnesium alloy, just like the 5D Mark III's body. As a result, the Phottix BG-5DIII is a bit of a gamble when the raindrops begin to fall. I shot in light rain with the Phottix during my testing and did not run into any problems, but I wouldn't feel comfortable in a heavy downpour. During my shooting for this review I did, however, inadvertently splash the grip with paint during a real-estate shoot. It continued (and still continues) to work perfectly.
|The rubberized grip pattern is finer than that of the 5D Mark III's.||The main dial of the Phottix grip isn't rubberized, but everything works as it should.|
The bottom of the Phottix grip has a tripod socket with metal threads and a bar for attaching an additional camera strap. The right side of the grip features a removable battery tray that pulls out by twisting a small locking knob. Two Canon LP-E6 battery packs can be loaded into the tray, thus doubling the life of the 5D Mark III. Phottix also includes a secondary tray that hosts 6 AA batteries, but I found no need for it, and regarded it as a last-minute emergency feature. The onscreen battery life indicator is fully supported and appeared just as expected.
As for controls, the back of the Phottix offers a command dial and the following buttons: AF-ON, AE Lock and AF Point Selection. The left side hosts the shutter button, Main dial and M-Fn button, as well as the Off/On switch for the grip. Most of the controls on the Phottix felt identical to those on the 5D Mark III's body. The only differences are a lack of rubberization on the BG-5DIII's main dial, and a shutter button that clicks after a half press, rather than the continuous springy motion of the shutter button on the camera itself. I actually preferred the Phottix's shutter button over Canon's, but that's just me.
Overall, I found the performance of the Phottix BG-5DIII to be nearly flawless. It's a battery grip, it doesn't do much but it works and feels great in the hand. Compared to Canon's pricier BG-E11, the $140 savings is not a giant leap, but could truly benefit many shooters on a tight budget. The major difference is the Phottix BG-5DIII's polycarbonate construction and lack of weatherization. For pros and advanced shooters, this could be a dealbreaker, and for hardcore all-weather photographers, I'd recommend Canon's magnesium alloy offering. But Phottix has made a very compelling, great-value alternative for the rest of us.
What we like: Virtually identical features and controls to Canon's pricier model, one-year manufacturer's warranty, excellent performance, double the battery life/span
What we don't like: Polycarbonate construction and no weatherization
Mike Perlman is a freelance photographer and writer, based in Bar Harbor, Maine. After a spell reviewing camcorders at Camcorderinfo.com, Mike moved to infoSync World as the Senior Photography Editor, before taking up a role at TechnoBuffalo.com as the head of the Photography department. These days, Mike runs his own photography business and contributes to dpreview between shoots.