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.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.