Accessory Review: Pixel Vertax D12 Grip for Nikon D800/E

Pixel Vertax D12 Battery Grip for Nikon D800/E
$99 / £65 www.pixelhk.com

A long-standing characteristic of professional SLRs is two sets of controls - horizontal and vertical. Vertical controls make the cameras easier to handle when shooting in the portrait format, and the more substantial grip also aids handling with long, heavy lenses. Many battery grips also come with another benefit - an increase in maximum framerate. The Nikon D300S, for example, can shoot at a maximum rate of 6fps 'out of the box' but with the addition of Nikon's MB-D10 battery grip, the extra power boosts it to 8fps. Depending on the sort of photography that you do, this might be a significant speed increase.  

The Nikon D800 and D800E are limited to 4fps in full-resolution FX format, but Nikon's MB-D12 grip does allow them to achieve 6fps in DX mode (using AA batteries or the EN-EL18 battery from the D4, which requires the optional BL-5 Battery Chamber Cover) as well as providing those useful vertical controls. The bad news is that depending on where you buy it, the MB-D12 will cost you between $450-616, and that's not including the cost of an additional EN-EL15 battery, the BL-5 Battery Chamber Cover to support the EN-EL18, or 8X AAs.

The good news if you're a D800 owner, is that the MB-D12 isn't your only option. The Vertax D12, from Hong Kong-based Pixel Enterprises replicates almost all of the functionality of the Nikon MB-D12 battery grip for the Nikon D800/E, and also duplicates the vertical controls. Compared to the MB-D12 though, its major selling point (literally) is a considerably lower price of around $99. 

The Vertax grip replicates all of the controls of Nikon's MB-D12, including front and rear control dials, a shutter button, AF-on button and rear joystick. The Vertax D12 attaches to the D800 via its tripod mount. In this view you can see the deeply contoured vertical grip, and the shutter button, which has a locking collar to prevent accidental operation. 

So what does your $99 buy you? Well, it buys you a near clone of Nikon's MB-D12, with the same power options (a tray for holding an additional EN-EL15 battery, and another for 8x AA cells, and a small velveteen pouch to hold whichever you're not using) and the same vertical controls, including an 'AF-On' button and rear joystick. Pixel is ambiguous about the construction material, but while very well put-together it is obvious from close inspection that the Vertax is made from polycarbonate rather than the more expensive combination of plastic and magnesium-alloy that Nikon employs in the MB-D12.

A tiny USB port can be found under the 'Pixel' blanking plate on the front of the grip, presumably for firmware updates to maintain compatibility if necessary in the future (at time of writing, no firmware is available for the Vertax D12 grip). 

The Vertax D12 comes with two battery trays (the compartment door is integral) which allow you to fit a second EN-EL15 (in addition to one in the camera) or 8x AA batteries into the grip. The D800 will work perfectly well without any batteries in the grip, but you won't get that extra frame per second in DX mode. 
Although the body material of the Vertax D12 is polycarbonate, as opposed to magnesium alloy for the body of the D800 (and Nikon's MB-D12 grip) it is nicely solid and screws tightly to the base of the camera. 

Despite the cheaper materials, the Vertax is very well built. The battery trays lock securely in place with no 'wobble', and all of the seams are nice and tight with no flex. The majority of the grip is covered in thick rubber, just like the MB-D12, and the front and rear control wheels are also rubberised, and rotate with firm detents. The AF-on and shutter buttons don't have quite the same positive travel as the equivalent controls on the D800's body, but they don't feel dry or 'clicky'. The slight difference in the feel of these controls is probably due, at least in part, to a lack of weather-sealing. The Nikon MB-D12 is fully weather-sealed, but the Vertax offers an incomplete safeguard against the elements. A rubber seal protects the electrical contacts that connect the camera to the grip, and the multi-controller appears to have a rubber sleeve, too, but as far as I can establish, the battery compartment door is entirely unprotected. 

In use, the Vertax grip feels solid, and screws very securely on the base of the D800. Even with a heavy 300mm F4 lens fitted to the camera, the grip was locked tightly to the D800, with no noticeable 'give'. The vertical controls work exactly as expected, and made the D800 considerably more comfortable to use when shooting portraits. 

Summing Up

Overall, the Vertax D12 is excellent value. For the price (which includes a 2-year warranty from Pixel), I have no serious complaints, but it isn't a complete no-brainer. There are good reasons why Pixel is charging so much less than Nikon. Those prepared to spend the extra for Nikon's MB-D12 will be rewarded with slightly better build quality, the option to use the D4's EN-EL18 battery (via the $30 BL-5 Battery Chamber Cover) full weather sealing, and a magnesium alloy shell that feels more like an extension of the camera. The Vertax D12's polycarbonate shell is tough and well-built, but still feels rather a little like an 'add on', albeit a very solid one. Also, there's more than one way to think about cost. As with all third-party accessories, in the unlikely event of the Vertax D12 damaging your camera you shouldn't expect much sympathy from Nikon...

Does any of this stuff add up to a $350+ price difference though? Ultimately that's for you decide, but for many photographers, I don't think it will. 

What we like: Solid and well made, vertical controls aid handling in portrait format and extra grip makes using long heavy lenses more comfortable. Extra frame per second in DX format (using AA batteries), very good value compared to Nikon's MB-D12.

What we don't like: Plastic body doesn't feel quite as integral to the D800 as mag-alloy, buttons not quite as nice as D800/MB-D12, no option to use the D4's EN-EL18 battery, incomplete weather-sealing.


This product is available at Amazon.com 

Comments

Total comments: 123
jorjahb
By jorjahb (5 months ago)

i'm curious if you would give the flashpoint version of this same battery grip a similar review? have you reviewed it before, and if not, would you give it the same thumbs-up? mine came with the bundle for the nikon d800 i bought at adorama, along with a nikon BL-5 battery chamber and cushioned cover that fits around all three battery tray/chamber types... the EN-EL-15, the AAs and the EL-18. the EL-18 chamber door/latch looks exactly like those on the trays that came with the flashpoint brand grip. but it doesn't seem to fit as perfectly. i have to push it down a bit before i close the latch to get it to close. anyway, i trust the nikon BL-5 chamber/cover. but what would you say about the flashpoint brand? what i got sells by itself on the adorama site for about $109. how would you say it compares to the vertax?

0 upvotes
Newtron
By Newtron (Nov 22, 2012)

Hello Friends,

It is really nice to see another review of dpreview. That this is over the vertax D12 its extra great because i want a grip for getting rid that monkey-style while shooting vertically.

Pixel is claiming the grip is waterproof as the MB D-12 is. So its written on their page. Yesterday i send my third and last message to get a statement from them! They answered as followed: "our product D12 is water-proof as camera designing. As long as camera can be used in the rain, our product also can".

What does THIS MEANS???
Is the grip loosing its sealing when used on the D60? I got several other strange answers.

0 upvotes
luka3rd
By luka3rd (Oct 30, 2012)

Nikons price is off the scale with those new grips... absolutely insane.
Nikon's are not of a perfect quality either. What you said of Vertax: "The AF-on and shutter buttons don't have quite the same positive travel as the equivalent controls on the D800's body, but they don't feel dry or 'clicky'." is absolutely the same as with MB-D10 for D300/700!!! Every time, for FOUR years I turn my camera to vertical, I misfire at least two or three shots until I accustom to much softer buttons... bummer! Never had that problem with vertical grip for D200, also original!
So, since Nikon's are degrading in quality, they do not deserve that kind of money, and 400 dollars is absolute lowest... give that Vertax a chance - it is reviewed by this site, so as I saw - it works!
@niciphore - yours is for 5DMKIII - not same... don't mix...

1 upvote
ClearGlass
By ClearGlass (Oct 1, 2012)

One issue that was not mentioned, is if you purchase Nikon's Grip and opt to use a D4 battery, you must also purchase a charger for the battery. For the record, the charger is $309.00 at Amazon.

In total, if you do the math for Nikon's Grip "MB-D12" ($397), a D4 battery "EN-EL18" ($145) , the Chamber Cover ($30.00), and a D4 battery charger ($309), you're going to be spending $881.00.

I'm all for saving money, but quality does matter. Then again, if you rarely use your grip, you might as well give the Vertax a try and see if you can live with it.

Naturally there are cheaper battery options for Nikon's Grip, but the review did leave out a very important point, when it brought up using the D4 battery in conjunction with Nikon's new D800/E Grip.

1 upvote
luka3rd
By luka3rd (Oct 30, 2012)

Yup! I bought MB-D10 in time and the cover for "big" battery... it seemed so good! When I went in another store for the battery and saw the price + the charger! Never bought it... :(
Went for AA's.

0 upvotes
Shooter Mike
By Shooter Mike (Sep 15, 2012)

DO NOT ORDER THIS ITEM FROM AMAZON! Amazon's supplier for this item has a serious shipping problem. They shipped a tiny remote control instead of the battery grip last week. When I complained, they paid for overnight shipping and sent me another remote instead of the grip, again!. Whoever is filling these orders is totally incompetent!

DO NOT ORDER THIS ITEM FROM AMAZON!

1 upvote
nycephore
By nycephore (Sep 15, 2012)

You have to :

- read my last Comments
- replace "DO NOT ORDER THIS ITEM FROM AMAZON" by
DO NOT ORDER THIS ITEM.....

My Recommandation : Keep your tiny remote wich has better Quality than vertax Grip, order Nikon Grip !!!

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
PJPNewYork
By PJPNewYork (Sep 7, 2012)

It seems that the biggest complaint has to do with the cost of the Nikon grip. When the D300/D700 grip was introduced, it cost about $250- which I bought. At the time, I did feel that it was a somewhat fair price. However, a battery grip that costs over $400 seems high to me. There does not seem to be any advanced technology built into a battery grip as compared to an Ipad. When I compare the materials and technology of an Ipad with the Nikon battery grip that costs nearly the same and in some cases costs more- I feel comfortable trying the Pixel grip.

0 upvotes
nycephore
By nycephore (Sep 7, 2012)

Some news : seller has received defective grip on September 3 : they did nothing until today.........

0 upvotes
nycephore
By nycephore (Sep 4, 2012)

Hello

I've commit a Mistake by buying vertex grip for my 5DMKIII

It doesn't have Battery Drain Problem : Contact beatween drip & Camera is not correct

It is very easy with a Magnifier to see why the Problem occur :

http://grab.by/fRhA

No Comment about Quality Control of pixel.....

I heve now to paid 30$ to resend it & wait for a long Time.......

My Recommendation : forget this Brand !!!!!

You have received Recommandations I was needed before buying.

Regards

0 upvotes
Carl Sanders
By Carl Sanders (Sep 3, 2012)

Would agree with first comment by Great Island, regardless of analogy, will be sticking to the manufacturers, re weather seal and quality of feel. To spend £2,500 on a camera and then purchase third party lens or accessories that may compromise the product does not make much sense. Each to their own though!

0 upvotes
T3
By T3 (Sep 4, 2012)

Well, that's what the OEM manufacturers want people to say and think. Which is why they can charge 4x as much.

I think it's always smart to judge each product and component based on its own merits, regardless of what brand name it has on it. Not all OEM products are necessarily worth the price that the OEM brand is charging for it. And likewise, not all third-party products should be ignored just because they aren't OEM; many of them function just as well as the OEM products, but at a much more realistic and fair price.

You also have to consider that for many people or organizations that are using multiple camera bodies of a particular model, the third-party grip can mean that we can buy grips for our multiple bodies for the same or less than the price of buying an OEM grip for just *one* of our bodies. We can buy three third-party grips for the price of a single OEM grip! When you have bills to pay, it's not such a bad idea to make the most of your money.

4 upvotes
ZorSy
By ZorSy (Sep 4, 2012)

My wife is trailing Autodesk AutoCad LT 13 and getting ready to pay $1700 for the licence. Should she rather get the cracked copy? Because knock-off is nothing but cracked copy. It sure is cheaper than OEM and "we would make the most of our money". Or how would you feel if someone take your photo and crop few pixels on each side claiming it being his own? I know where you are coming from but think about consequences of stealing "intellectual properties". They will bite your back sooner than you think. Let Pixel make a camera (and a grip for it), if they are so smart....

0 upvotes
AlexInMontreal
By AlexInMontreal (Sep 5, 2012)

ZorSy, as long as Pixel isn't infringing on Nikon patents, they aren't breaking any laws. It's not the same as getting cracked software which is illegal and immoral. This is an accessory much like buying a Kensington Keyboard instead of an Apple Keyboard for an iPad - I have no problem with that; It increases the competition threat to Nikon and will make them better think through their pricing next time.

0 upvotes
Great Island
By Great Island (Sep 2, 2012)

Like putting cheap oil in an expensive car... kind of silly. If one can afford the camera, why buy a Chineses knok-off?

1 upvote
T3
By T3 (Sep 2, 2012)

That's a lame analogy. First of all, oil runs *through* an engine, and can effect an engine's performance. That's certainly not the case with a nicely made add-on grip. Secondly, maybe an intelligent person would rather take the $300 that he saves, and put it towards something else! I can think of a lot of things I can do with the $300 savings that would be more worthwhile. Just because someone "can afford the camera" doesn't mean you can't be wise with how you spend your money. If the third-party grip has no significant bearing on performance or handling compared to the OEM grip, then it seems pretty reasonable and smart to save several hundred dollars.

Comment edited 43 seconds after posting
11 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Sep 2, 2012)

Oil of a certain grade and type varies little, so putting in name-brand inexpensive oil won't damage anything. Nor will using a well-made, inexpensive grip on your expensive camera. It's nice to have alternatives to overpriced accessories. For a professional fashion photographer, buying the Nikon grip for the slight extra certainty makes sense. For a landscape photographer who mainly uses a tripod and rarely needs a portrait grip, this is likely to be adequate.

1 upvote
pixel2012
By pixel2012 (Sep 3, 2012)

hey! Man! Our country products are excellent performance with pretty price! it's a best choise!

0 upvotes
Florent Chev
By Florent Chev (Sep 3, 2012)

Hey man, I just had a look at my official Nikon MD-B11. Guess what's written on it? MADE IN CHINA!
So don't be so assertive to give a judgement on something just by where it is from ;)

3 upvotes
Great Island
By Great Island (Sep 4, 2012)

yup. Made in China though not a knock off. Good luck, guys. Don't whine when you have problems with the cameras.

0 upvotes
ZorSy
By ZorSy (Sep 1, 2012)

I'm not sure where this kind of reviews published on DPR are taking this site to: I don't work for or with Nikon, nor have D800 for that matter. There have been grips and 3rd party accessory for cameras before, never "reviewed" in this fashion. It was part of discussions and comments about the stuff one can buy on e-bay, for good or bad (none has to tell us it's cheaper than OEM stuff, we know that anyway). Why did DPR pick to this way so of the sudden is a bit of mystery. Independent reviewers can go the way they want, without question - following the "line of money". But why with D800 grip? I'm sure the number of MB-D10 clones and variants sold over years for D80/90 is plain vast compared to the number of D800's out there - yet never even remotely mentioned, virtually non-existent. Hmm..

2 upvotes
wadap0
By wadap0 (Sep 1, 2012)

Let me offer a possible explanation. The D800 has been one of the most newsworthy professional level cameras of the year so far. Demand has been strong since it came on the market. Now, most serious shooters at this level will at least consider the vertical grip at some point - many have been put off by the unreasonably high price of the MB-D12 which is construction-wise, no different from its predecessor, the MB-D10. The result of all this is outrage among a lot of Nikon shooters about the pricing of this desirable accessory. If you look online, you will find a lot has been said about this, and not just in forums. What this means is that this is probably the most 'newsworthy' vertical grip so far for a digital SLR, hence DPR's interest in reviewing it. I personally am grateful for the review as will likely influence my purchasing decision.

8 upvotes
ccc
By ccc (Sep 1, 2012)

How is the review of this 3rd party accessory any different then all the reviews of 3rd party lenses...Tamron, Tokina, Sigma etc...

2 upvotes
ZorSy
By ZorSy (Sep 2, 2012)

All those lenses in question are unique by design (optical, mechanical, aesthetic). This is plain knock-off in every last bit (apart from cheaper materials). As other poster on another forum said - photographers are so sensitive about copyrights and use of their photographs but quickly forger about others intellectual rights (in this case Nikon). DPR joins to support the steal of the same. The next step - 3rd party inks for printers? May be legal - but is it moral? Or that does not matter anymore...

0 upvotes
BadMike
By BadMike (Sep 4, 2012)

But this isn't a knock-off grip from eBay, this is a knock-off grip from Amazon. Who owns DPReview again?

0 upvotes
ZorSy
By ZorSy (Sep 4, 2012)

Yes right! And Pixel2012 is a "valuable DPR poster" too. In other words, it's now OK to take someone's photo, push through Instagram and sell it cheap as a "knock off photo". You could, of course, get heavily overpriced original author's photo - but why bother when knock-off would do?

0 upvotes
mholdef
By mholdef (Sep 1, 2012)

Where did you get that deal ? I haven't heard of any kits with the grip out yet ?

0 upvotes
Lea5
By Lea5 (Aug 31, 2012)

I have nothing to complain about the price, cause I got Nikon's MB-D12 for free. It came with my D800E. But it's good to see alternatives.

0 upvotes
Mr Fartleberry
By Mr Fartleberry (Aug 31, 2012)

Good to see consumers pushing back finally against Nikon's grip on greed.

6 upvotes
suncoast
By suncoast (Aug 31, 2012)

Is there any L-Plate that could work with this battery grip? For me, the only incentive to use a battery grip is to double the battery life when shooting time-lapse at night automatically, especially in the cold environment. It seems the battery door for the grip is larger than the MB-D12, thus I guess most of the RRS type of L-Plate can not really work well with this one, since it will block the battery door which means you may have to remove the L-Plate before changing the battery.

Any one has experience with it? Thanks.

0 upvotes
Denton Taylor
By Denton Taylor (Sep 1, 2012)

My experience was with the Canon grip but in addition to the battery drain fiasco the grip did not fit with an RRS L plate. And this after Pixel said it was the same size. So don't count it.

0 upvotes
Ed Kreiser
By Ed Kreiser (Sep 3, 2012)

I purchased a knockoff grip(Meike) for my D-800 and the Kirk L mount. The Kirk is the same as the RRS manufacturer. Assembly is clean and tight and the battery door works flawlessly. So far..no problems.

0 upvotes
Amnon G
By Amnon G (Aug 31, 2012)

warrantee --> warranty

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Aug 31, 2012)

Fixed.

0 upvotes
Jack Simpson
By Jack Simpson (Aug 31, 2012)

guarantee ... warranty .... :D

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Aug 31, 2012)

I love that warrantee means 'someone who has a warranty'.

1 upvote
Hauer
By Hauer (Aug 31, 2012)

I welcome this product by a 3rd party manufacturer as I think that NIKON is al ittle too greedy in respect of their retail price for the original product.

5 upvotes
Sad Joe
By Sad Joe (Aug 31, 2012)

It's about time ! I get so fed up with companies like Nikon & Canon charging huge sums for their grips, I welcome having at least one more to select from. As long as it fits/ works I'd give it a home - with the money saved I'd got a decent chunk of cash towards another lens - perhaps the new Nikon 28 1.8 ? Roll on.

2 upvotes
Comalv
By Comalv (Aug 31, 2012)

I think this review is good, but it should be noted that original Nikon MB-D12 does not have weather sealing around the control points or battery compartment either.

3 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Aug 31, 2012)

Yes it does. If you open the battery compartment you can actually see a rubber seal, running around the aperture.

2 upvotes
Spurtz
By Spurtz (Sep 26, 2012)

Mine does. Maybe you got a counterfeit.

0 upvotes
JacquesBalthazar
By JacquesBalthazar (Aug 31, 2012)

When I buy stuff, I look at the price/performance ratio like everyone else, and price is important. But I try and add another dimension to the value equation, and put a high weight on the sustainability/CSR side of things. I am prepared to pay a higher price for items that carry brands that belong to companies who have a publicised policy on those matters. That includes production conditions, fair employment, sourcing policies, environmental impact, etc.

I try and avoid giving my money, directly or indirectly, to sweatshops and environmentally irresponsible producers.

Nikon has a CSR policy. The Nikon point of view is here:

http://www.nikon.com/about/csr/index.htm

I tried to find information on Pixel's supply chain and CSR policies, and found nothing. They might be a good outfit (their management is proud of their production lines) or they might be pirates, I do not know at all, but if I purchase a grip for my D800, I'll buy it from Nikon, partly for that reason.

3 upvotes
Klaus dk
By Klaus dk (Aug 31, 2012)

I think that one of the reasons the west is rolling down hill and the east is gaining on us, is the attitude of Maloy here. If nobody seems to be willing to pay more for stuff which is made under decent working conditions, standards will decline and even more western industries will be shut down.
I am no saint in this matter, but I think the enormous import from China will affect our own conditions of living far more than we imagine, when we have no alternatives anymore.

2 upvotes
mikegoat
By mikegoat (Aug 31, 2012)

If you are true to this approach, stop buying all Asian cameras and see what you can find here made in the USA. They are all made in swewatshops compared to thsi part of the world. But if they were made her they woudl cost as much as your car.

2 upvotes
michi098
By michi098 (Sep 1, 2012)

There is another reason to buy cheaper items. Look at how expensive things have gotten. Here in the US, the gasoline price has increased four times in the last ten years. Natural gas, electricity, food (in supermarkets and dining out) has also gone up. No need to mention cameras. But my salary? Not even close, it's maybe 10% more than it was ten years ago. I'm sure many are in a similar position. If I can get a $99 grip, compared to a $500 grip, I'll save the money for more important stuff.
And yeah, I also find it odd that DPR reviews one specific knock off grip here, where there are hundreds out there for pretty much any camera for years and years now. Why now, why this one? Why not a few more lens reviews?

2 upvotes
Barbu
By Barbu (Sep 2, 2012)

michi098: boohoo, gas 4 times higher? Oh noes... It's so expensive, that it got to almost 80% of the european price!
Try now to mention camera prices: they're by default 20% higher in Europe (because in camera makers eyes, 1$ = 1 Euro).
And salary? GTFO... If anything, I wonder when manufacturers will stop subsidizing the USA market, while inflating prices everywhere else.

2 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (Sep 2, 2012)

@JacquesBalthazar
Hate to tell you this, but Nikon and Canon are apparently almost at the bottom of the pile when it comes to avoiding use of conflict minerals.
http://www.petapixel.com/2012/08/21/canon-and-nikon-lagging-behind-in-fight-against-the-use-of-conflict-minerals/

Anyway I wouldn't buy the Pixel Vertax grip because I try to avoid buying anything produced in the People's Republic of China because of that country's appalling record on Human Rights and other issues.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
michi098
By michi098 (Sep 2, 2012)

Barbu, what's your point??
No matter the price of gas in Europe, those who live on other continents have their lives and salaries adjusted to whatever the current prices are, or were. A four times increase hurts everyone, no matter how much the base price is or was...

0 upvotes
Preternatural Stuff
By Preternatural Stuff (Nov 29, 2012)

That's the kind of blinkered ignorance (cultural or otherwise) that I find sad.

Nikon et al pay a pittance to these same Asian contract manufacturers to OEM these cheap accessories and forbids them from selling to the end users (us). Artificially creates scarcity of supply and bangs a logo on it to reap astronomical profit margins. Ignorant customer gets duped into playing by these ridiculous rules.

Pixel Enterprise makes these same/similar items to sell to the end users at a much fairer price ($100 bucks ain't small change either please), minus the middleman. Pixel also makes a far healthier margin per unit sold. Employees are more likely to be better remunerated if the employers have a healthy bottom line. Both buyer and seller win.

Which is more sustainable? Remove your Western blinkers & think through it please. Its more a kind of values-based, cultural and economic stereotyping you are labouring under.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Mark Roberts
By Mark Roberts (Aug 31, 2012)

Nikon has always designed their cameras to include proprietary connectors for shutter release cables, etc. Given how inexpensive digital cameras have become, so quickly, I'm constantly amazed that any of the manufacturers can stay in business. Making a relatively tiny profit on low volume accessories isn't much to complain about.

I've actually manufactured an accessory grip (for the D70). We had pretty nice comments about the quality, but it was still nothing compared to the quality from Nikon (luckily Nikon didn't make a grip for the D70). The amount of effort it takes to reverse engineer the connections, do the mechanical design with close detail to the surface feel, the way the dials move, match colors, design the firmware, fabricate the molds, develop a production process, test each unit, etc., requires an investment most people just don't comprehend. Frankly I can't conceive of even attempting to develop a grip like this, and then sell it for only $100. Amazing...

2 upvotes
Sad Joe
By Sad Joe (Aug 31, 2012)

Welcome to the new World - I'm old enough to recall that 99% of cameras were made in Japan and going back to the 1970's a typical SLR was several weeks wages - move forward to 2012 and cameras even the expensive ones are a bargain. I've used paid £2.05 for a fake Canon hood for my 15-85 lens, I repeat I paid £2.05 INCLUDING P & P from HK, how the hell do they do it, when Canon try to charge £40 for their version?

PS - the hood fits fine is as well made as any of my Canon or Nikon lens hoods (apart from my 1980's Nikon hoods that are all metal) and it does the job. £40 for a Canon hood - they can whistle !

2 upvotes
Klaus dk
By Klaus dk (Aug 31, 2012)

I too have an unoriginal hood for my Canon 50mm f/1.8, bought at a fifth of the price of the original. It is thinner, the inside is slighty shiny as opposed to the velvet like surface on the inside of my original Canon hood. No way near the same quality.
I just ordered an original Canon hood for my 70-300 and the 50mm got an ancient Minolta hood made of metal with velvet inside, that I got from a friend.

1 upvote
CFynn
By CFynn (Sep 2, 2012)

While some 3rd party lens hoods are not as good as the originals - ones that are just as good could easily be manufactured and sold at a fraction of the cost of the ones from Nikon/Canon/Olympus, etc.

What really gets me are the manufacturers who don't even include a lens hood with an expensive lens - and then charge an exorbitant price for one as an add on. (The Olympus 75mm 1.8 lens is a recent example of this bad practice.)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Klaus dk
By Klaus dk (Sep 6, 2012)

I remember a lesson taught to me in my childhood: If you can't afford to buy what you want, you must save until you can - or wish for Santa Claus to bring it for Christmas.
But no, we want instant gratification! Christmas every month of the year. For how long do we believe that will last?
And by the way: I have a knockoff grip for my 7D, it works fine at half the price of the original. But I worry nonetheless.

0 upvotes
Octane
By Octane (Aug 31, 2012)

Thanks for the review and making people aware that there are far less expensive alternatives available that are well made and more than good enough for most people.

I've been using this grip for a while on my D800 and am perfectly happy with it. Unlike the reviewer I actually like the feel of the wheels better than the original ones which have too much friction IMHO.

The most important point here is that Nikon tried to, for the lack of a better word, screw their customers with a ridiculously priced grip. The Nikon grip isn't just overpriced, it's an insult to loyal Nikon customers. From that point of view I really appreciate that DPReview gives this alternative grip public exposure which sends Nikon the right message.

2 upvotes
mynamehere
By mynamehere (Aug 31, 2012)

Τhe don't likes are the reason for the lower price,
Original addons are more overpriced than the products they refer.

2 upvotes
love_them_all
By love_them_all (Aug 31, 2012)

I know the NIKON factory accessories are overpriced. And I am looking at this with an open mind. People who buy bodies in the prosumer range would like something a true substitute, meaning something just as good in functionality and durability, or better. I don't mind spending the money, but I am not in the market to buy something in less quality, because the last thing I want is to see something just fail after a few months of moderate use.

This is better off for lower end cameras or they should be innovative like making it wifi 3G GPS ethernet or even a back up storage SD slot.

0 upvotes
Spurtz
By Spurtz (Sep 26, 2012)

Prces for accessories are high because they CAN be. The OEM's aren't concerned about competition like they are when pricing out their DSLRs, because you've already bought their camera - for example, Nikon doesn't have to worry about owners of their cameras buying Canon accessories. Captive audience.

Along comes companies like Pixel. The big makers MAY be concerned at some point but not yet - until these third party accessories are better made and more reliable, the big boys are safe.

I need my accessories to work, so I'll be opting for the OEM gear until the "knock-offs" can do the same to my socks.

0 upvotes
BJN
By BJN (Aug 30, 2012)

Someone else brought up the tripod stability issue, but I wonder if the form of this grip is KIRF enough so that custom Arca-type plates designed for the MB-12 will fit this? Not that I'm really interested in spending even $100 to make my D800 bigger and heavier...let alone dress it up with an L-bracket that costs more than the knockoff grip.

1 upvote
ScottRH
By ScottRH (Aug 30, 2012)

I would bet No. If the D800 can run with faster FPS it would work for sports photography and I would buy it. Maybe. Likely skip the experimental D800.

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (Aug 30, 2012)

Yeah sure!

Buy a Ferrari and use Camry wheels... no probs.

.

4 upvotes
M-L
By M-L (Aug 31, 2012)

Do the Ferrai wheels cost 1/5 of a Ferrai? Most people buy Ferrai just to show off, of course it makes no sense to use camry wheels, but people buy D800 to actually take photos not to look good in front of their friends.

The funny thing is few people have problem for those who buy cheaper third party lenses to save money, even it may degrade the photos. The battery grip does not have impact on your photos. I don't understand why so many people have such negative attitude.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
13 upvotes
Justin Francis
By Justin Francis (Aug 31, 2012)

My friend just bought some really nice replica wheels for his porsche. Can't tell diff with originals. Only an idiot would use camry wheels.

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (Aug 30, 2012)

So, does it increase the shooting speed or not? Did you test it?

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Aug 31, 2012)

Yes, and yes. In DX mode, with AA batteries inserted.

2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Sep 1, 2012)

Cool, thanks.

0 upvotes
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (Aug 30, 2012)

NO weather-sealing?
As much as you pay foe the camera and optics etc
why would one not also get the best extra grip?
???

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Aug 30, 2012)

$600 is a lot to pay if you're not a wet-weather photographer.

15 upvotes
raincoat
By raincoat (Aug 31, 2012)

Exactly. Cue all the self important saying you shouldn't "skimp" on a grip when you buy a 3k camera. Then find out the same self righteous own 3rd party grips for their other cameras where the price difference is much smaller!

1 upvote
Josh152
By Josh152 (Aug 31, 2012)

It you paid $600 for the Nikon grip you got ripped off big time. Just do a quick Google. $398.93 on Amazon. $399.99 on B&H. $397.66 on Adorama. It's $400.00 on almost every major online camera retailer.

0 upvotes
TOF guy
By TOF guy (Aug 30, 2012)

I've bought a very similar unit (actually probably the very same unit) from Cameta Camera in NYC for $59. It is advertized on their e-bay store. That includes shipping! The advantage (for us in the US) over ordering from HK is that the grip is shipped from a warehouse in the USA: it took 2 days to be delivered. Also Cameta camera is a good store with a good return policy. Pixel is probably okay but shipping back the accessory to HK would be more of an hassle.

0 upvotes
mrp1124
By mrp1124 (Sep 18, 2012)

TOF, do you have any photos of it?

0 upvotes
Catallaxy
By Catallaxy (Aug 30, 2012)

The reviewer failed to review one of the most important points about a battery grip - how it does on a tripod. Some of the third party grips have a bad reputation for flex or give or otherwise not being a sturdy platform when the camera plus grip is mounted on a tripod. Just because the body/grip interface does not appear to flex in normal operations does not mean that it will not flex or contribute to vibrations on a tripod.

3 upvotes
PatrickP
By PatrickP (Aug 30, 2012)

I had the original MB-D12 grip mounted on my D800 for a while. Even with Nikon grip, no matter how tight I tried to bolt the grip onto my D800, it would still flex on my tripod. you push the viewfinder compartment and the body would move around a bit.

Before you would ask, I was using a RRS lever clamp and a wimberly body plate, on a gitzo 2-series tripod. the same combo with the D800 body itself leave very little play.

0 upvotes
Petka
By Petka (Aug 31, 2012)

The easy conclusion: when doing critical tripod work, take the grips off, no matter what the brand...

5 upvotes
Josh152
By Josh152 (Aug 31, 2012)

@Petka

Exactly! I thought this was common knowledge.

0 upvotes
MikeD2011
By MikeD2011 (Aug 30, 2012)

I purchased one a few weeks ago, but returned it because the control dials did not work. I have also seen a review on amazon that stated that they had a similar problem. The lower price may not just related to weather sealing and slightly less substantial construction. I t may be due to poor quality control.

0 upvotes
raincoat
By raincoat (Aug 31, 2012)

Luckily you have to buy and fail 5 of them before you're behind in money.

1 upvote
aris14
By aris14 (Aug 30, 2012)

Τhe don't likes are the reason for the lower price,
Original addons are more overpriced than the products they refer.

0 upvotes
Hawaii-geek
By Hawaii-geek (Aug 30, 2012)

DSTE grip imho is better.
Allows you to use a higher capasity 3900mAh battery (even vs the EN-EL18) and has a Metal pin.
"With" the 3900mAh battery it's still under us$99.
and if you want, you can use the EN-EL18 in it OR use the DSTE 3900mAh in the D4, I have not tried this, but other's have said it works.
That DSTE 3900mAh battery is so cheap and powerful, not sure if I want to use anything else. and the charger is small, makes a huge differance when traveling.
This is link to DPR thread on it
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1021&message=42133899

Comment edited 14 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
AlexInMontreal
By AlexInMontreal (Sep 5, 2012)

Have you tried Live View when using the DSTE grip? MustangNYC has a reviewed the DSTE and he gets "Err" with 2 different DSTE grips;
Ref: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1UzribVVAo "Nikon D800 DSTE Battery Grip D4 Battery in D800"

0 upvotes
M Lammerse
By M Lammerse (Aug 30, 2012)

I appreciate it that DPreview reviews this optional choice.

This optional grip would be really tempting for me and probable many others who are thinking of purchasing a D4 in the (nearby) future. The main reason that I bought the original grip is that the optional ones are not supporting the D4 batteries.

Now I carry 3 types of batteries with me: That for the D3S, 16 Eneloop AA's and than 2 D800 ones. Just 2 D4 batteries would be much more handier.

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Aug 30, 2012)

Bwhahah! Third party much?! That's a knockoff grip AND a knockoff lens!

Seriously though, keep em coming. There's a serious lack of legit reviews of some of these accessories. First and third party both.

4 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Aug 30, 2012)

Hardly a knockoff lens - among optical engineers (and photographers) the Sigma 50mm F1.4 has an excellent reputation...

15 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Aug 30, 2012)

...and I'm still not sure why. For full frame, I've never tried one that I liked. They've all been soft as mush past the inner 12mm of the frame. Even my old 50/1.4AFD was better outside the middle. And my 50/1.4G is even sharper.

I'm not saying that Sigma doesn't make some good kit--you wouldn't be able to take my 20/1.8 from my cold dead hands, or my bag--but this ain't it.

It's not unusable...it's just...why does this lens exist? It's huge. It's overpriced. It doesn't do anything better.

I just don't get it.

1 upvote
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Aug 30, 2012)

...and plenty of gear has an undeservedly good reputation. Like any artistic endeavor, cameras attract religious fervor and mojo myths. Plenty of it's pretty usable gear, but a lot of it is unremarkable. I'm reminded of a particular Angenieux lens I once sought out. *sigh*

It's just gear. And it all has limits. I don't like the limits of the Sigma 50mm, and I wonder about people when they go all gaga about it. Sorta like Lady Gaga.

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Aug 30, 2012)

From personal experience, a good sample of this lens is very special. We also reviewed it, and were very impressed by the results against the competition of the time.

http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/sigma501p4_c16/

8 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Aug 31, 2012)

Yep saw the review. The shots are ok, but your test results also confirm what I've said: it's soft outside the center. Extremely tight portraits wide open lack sharpness. In fact, neither do full length portraits--the person's belly will be sharp and their head will be soft. Pair that with the D800 and you've got a recipe for disappointment. Unless you can work around it. Perhaps framing looser and cropping in post. With the meager 12mp I shoot with now, that's a waste of valuable information. When I get around to picking up a D800, I still wouldn't want to have to crop and waste information. No, I'll keep my sharper 50/1.4G, thanks.

And you're qualifier "good sample" isn't exactly flattering. It suggests that the few I've seen are sub par. I've had two 50/1.4D lenses and now the G, and none of them have had manufacturing issues that I'm aware of. In fact, my first one I dropped so many times it's missing a chunk. The snaggle toothed beast is still sharper than the Sigma.

0 upvotes
Cheeky Monkey
By Cheeky Monkey (Aug 30, 2012)

Bought one with my new D800 and used it at an all day shoot last weekend. Generally very happy with it, my only issue is that the focus point button was not as responsive as I had hoped, but it is not a fatal flaw. Overall, for the $$, not a bad buy.

1 upvote
gonzalu
By gonzalu (Aug 30, 2012)

Thank you... hopefully Nikon will come to their senses with that silly high price, regardless of how it's made. Consumers have gotten smart to the ways of old of trying to push expensive accessories.

2 upvotes
Chaitanya S
By Chaitanya S (Aug 30, 2012)

I would like to see more of these accessory reviews, more specifically reviews of lighting products like macro lights, studio lights and speedlights in general.

11 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Aug 30, 2012)

On the way.

8 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Aug 30, 2012)

YES! Let's see one about things like the Coco ring flash! It's better than the "Ray" version it supposedly imitates.

I bought a Ray and the first one, without dropping, came apart inside. It still worked, but I decided to return it for one that didn't rattle. The new one illuminated less evenly. Returned that. Bought the Coco one and it works great. For a THIRD of the price. And it hasn't fallen apart in two years, unlike the RayFlash one!

0 upvotes
Denton Taylor
By Denton Taylor (Aug 30, 2012)

Better make sure this doesn't have the same battery drain issues that the Canon one did or does. I bought two of these for my 5D mkiii and they were worthless cuz of the drain issue. Company wouldn't make good either. So I was out two hundred bucks for the two grips, PLUS the money I then spent for the OEM version.

Sometimes you really do get what you pay for, and this is one of these times.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1032&message=41985634

0 upvotes
gl2k
By gl2k (Aug 30, 2012)

There is evidence that even the D800 is turned off, when you turn a wheel on the grip the green light indicating a memory card access flashes.

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Aug 30, 2012)

It does. But I've had the grip attached for several days at a stretch and nothing has come of it (i.e., no battery drain issues as far as I can tell).

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
M Lammerse
By M Lammerse (Aug 30, 2012)

Yes, that is true. That happens on my D800 (with the original grip) and I have seen it also happen at a camera of my colleague

When I connect or disconnect the grip to/from the camera the green light will flash sometimes once, sometimes twice.

Battery power leakage in both the camera or grip are the same is my experience.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Aug 30, 2012)

That's the high price you pay for QC! Wait, you did QC this gear Nikon, right? Right? *sigh*

2 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Aug 30, 2012)

Nikon DSLRs are never actually off. They are just in standby/sleep mode. Don't appear to be an issue.

1 upvote
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Aug 30, 2012)

For the price of this simple, plastic battery holder, one can get a pretty neat advanced digital camera, including the lens, wow....

0 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Aug 30, 2012)

I paid less for my GX1 than the MSRP of the MB-D12.

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (Aug 30, 2012)

The MB-D12 is magnesium allow and weather sealed. It's not cheap, but considering you pay $150 for a RRS L-bracket, $399 for this portrait grip is not totally out of line.

1 upvote
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Aug 31, 2012)

No, I don't pay $150 for a RRS L-bracket. And I only paid $169 for my MB-D10, which after handling both, I'm convinced is of superior build quality to the MB-D12. The connector in particular.

1 upvote
bigdaddave
By bigdaddave (Aug 30, 2012)

Why is dp reviewing an aftermarket copy grip at all?

Kickback much

0 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Aug 30, 2012)

Whuuuut? This is a great value accessory for a very popular camera. Obvious choice for a camera review site, much?

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
24 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Aug 30, 2012)

Why is Nikon charging triple the price of the MB-D10 for the genuine POS? And the connector is flimsy compared to the one on my MB-D10. It's more like the MD-D11, which has given me trouble. The one on the MB-D10 is solid and well designed. And takes a higher capacity battery--Nikon screwed us there, with a BS excuse of Japanese regs causing the battery shrink. Meanwhile in Canon land, you see now downward change in battery capacity of their pro battery pack.

Except for resolution, Nikon worked hard to make this a downgrade, and the MB-D12 is evidence of this.

1 upvote
marike6
By marike6 (Aug 30, 2012)

A downgrade of the D700? Except for the fact that the D800's IQ is superior in ever way.

It's amazing, Nikon releases an extraordinary camera that tops DxOMark, has better than D4 IQ at a fair price and all everybody ever does is complain. I'm a totally satisfied D800 owner, but I haven't been to the Nikon forums in 5 months because people absolutely take all the joy away from owning this superb camera with their constant complaining.

Sorry for the rant.

4 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Aug 31, 2012)

Makes better jpegs. That is all. Raw quality is a different story. The red channel noise is a bit worse on the D800. For low light, I'll stick with my D700. Don't get me wrong, I'll get a D800 also, but one does not replace the other. A D3s will be the replacement for my D700.

And DX0Muck is a crock.

And don't be sorry...I rant too. People don't use the gear and whine about it. I use it. I know it's limits. Like the bleedin loud shutter on everything but the D7000. But AF is abysmal on that camera. I can get what I need from the gear that's here...but I pine for that which doesn't exist in Nikon land: quiet FF with good AF and a decent frame rate. Perhaps I'll get my wish soon. Till then, THE RANTING CONTINUES!

...and shooting. Cheers!

1 upvote
JDT0505
By JDT0505 (Aug 31, 2012)

I totally agree with you micahmedia, the D800 doesn't replace the D700. For low-light the D700 is a much better camera. I own both. I shoot both side-by-side for concerts, but the D700 is always my main. And it's still running strong after 251,000 clicks.

And as far as knock-off grips go, I sure as hell am not using a $99 grip on a $3000 camera. The only review I'd trust on this grip is one where the grip has been used for at least a few months. A few hours with the grip isn't going to reveal structural and/or electronic failings. Shame on DPReview for promoting this junk.

1 upvote
itcrashed
By itcrashed (Aug 30, 2012)

"The bad news is that depending on where you buy it, the MB-D12 will cost you between $450-616, and that's not including the cost of an additional EN-EL15 battery (necessary for the speed boost in DX format)."

Barney, you actually need to use AA batteries or D4 battery to get the DX 6fps speed boost.

Comment edited 15 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Aug 30, 2012)

Edited, apologies. I also made it clearer that you can't use the D4's battery in the Vertax grip (although I can't see D800 owners enjoying this option much).

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Aug 30, 2012)

I haven't tried this, but here's a suggestion: when I bought an MB-D10 knockoff, it came with two battery trays. Since I wanted to use only the EN-EL4, I was free to sacrifice one or both of the provided trays (I kept the AA one). I purchased a BL-3 and found I could swap the outer part containing the latch. The screw placement in both the knockoff tray and BL-3 matched perfectly. So I was able to easily run the EN-EL4 in my MB-D10 knockoff that cost me $65.

The knockoff died after a year and I replaced it with the Nikon article.

Since my mod was done with existing screws in existing holes, I could reverse the process and still ended up with a BL-3 that worked in a genuine MB-D10, once set back to stock.

So my suggestion is, if you're on a shoestring, give it a try! Get a BL-5, EN-EL18, and knockoff grip and swap some parts around. It's worth a shot! And report back, please!

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
M Lammerse
By M Lammerse (Aug 30, 2012)

Yes, you need indeed.

0 upvotes
audijam
By audijam (Aug 30, 2012)

i have the same conclusion for Vertax BG-11. well built but the feedback from the buttons aren't the same as Canon legit copy and yeah Vertax is of plastic so it does feel different. however....it is still great value for its price.

3 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Aug 30, 2012)

Canon?

1 upvote
digital-freak
By digital-freak (Aug 30, 2012)

They make one for Canon as well.

0 upvotes
tektrader
By tektrader (Aug 30, 2012)

Factually wrong, The Genuine Nikon grip "contains" some magnesium. The body isnt magnesium, its the same polycarbonate as the Pixel. The Pixel grip uses steel in place of magnesium. Big deal.

If you look at the Nikon website you will find an exploded view of the grip which shows exactly where the metal is. There isnt much of it.

My Pixel grip works and fits perfectly.

1 upvote
mikegoat
By mikegoat (Aug 31, 2012)

I have the Canon OEM and this one. This one is an amazing value. No crticisms at all. If I had known about it, I would have bought it and never purchased the Canon unless this one stopped working. Its that good.

1 upvote
nick fan
By nick fan (Aug 31, 2012)

when does DPreview start to promote knock off products? I can't imagine this!
many battery grip in hong kong and china are clones of the original version. They use reverse engineering tool to clone it bit by bit. They are just inferior clones. I agree Nikon and Canon are greedy for the grips. But this can't justify cloning and promoting cloning! There are third party grips that try to have their own design.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Notnard
By Notnard (Aug 31, 2012)

It works fine. But it feels like a plastic attachment, whereas the Nikon grip feels like its part of the body. If you plan to keep it permanently attached to the body the Nikon grip is a better choice.
If you just need a grip for vertical shooting the Vertax is a real good deal.

0 upvotes
mikegoat
By mikegoat (Aug 31, 2012)

Actually, for all we pay for the Canon bodies and lenses, they could be a little more reasonable with the add ons and the non OEM market would wither some. These are after all battery holders with switches.

Comment edited 26 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Indulis Bernsteins
By Indulis Bernsteins (Sep 1, 2012)

Yes- non-genuine vendors should be forced to make grips in different shapes. Starting with a different profile that isn't matched to the camera body (after all the original manufacturer made the camera body shape!), and they should not be allowed to include any similarities that might encourage someone to mistake it for an original manufacturer's grip. It also must have a different number of switches, and have razor sharp corners so it does not infringe on the (probably patented) rounded edges. It should also preferably not behave in the same way ("look and feel" patents). If the original grip has a push-button, then the other manufacturer must "innovate" another way to do the job- a slider switch or a rotary switch, or a "pinch switch" or a morse code key for tapping out "T-A-K-E A P-H-O-T-O N-O-W".

Cloning and reverse engineering has been the lifeblood of innovation by allowing new to build on old (in fact reverse engineering is an allowable DRM/DMCA circumvention).

0 upvotes
nycephore
By nycephore (Sep 4, 2012)

BE CAREFULL :

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1023&message=42396515

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 123