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.
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).
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.
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
Aug 16, 2015
Jul 19, 2015
Jul 13, 2015
May 30, 2015
|Body Only, Base|
|w/ 24-120mm, Base|
|w/ Portrait lens, Base|
|w/ Super Zoom lens, Base|
|Nikon D810 FX-Format DSLR Camera with 24-70mm Lens|
|Nikon D810 FX-Format DSLR Camera with 55-200mm Lens|
|Nikon D810 FX-Format DSLR Camera with 55-300mm Lens|
|Big Steaming Pile by WhistlerOne|
from Product Shoot: Coffee
|AU4_6418_BB-35 by DaveInHouston|
LEE has released a new series of Reverse ND filters that are most opaque in the middle and become progressively clearer towards the top. This makes them ideal for capturing scenes where the sun is close to the horizon.
A former New York Times photographer is suing both the newspaper and its photography director Michele McNally for over $500,000 for age discrimination and unfair classification as a freelancer for nearly a decade.
"CPS Platinum members will now enjoy next-day service, with equipment serviced and shipped the business day after an estimate is approved. For repairs that will take longer, Canon will offer next-day loaner equipment."
Irix is introducing a new filter system called the Irix Edge 100. The ultra-light, ultra-thin system is build specifically for wide angle lenses like Irix's own 15mm F2.4.
After conducting a series of safety tests, the FAA is recommending that all airlines ban cameras and other electronics with Lithium Ion batteries from checked baggage. The agency believe the risk of a catastrophic fire and explosion is too great.
The Pixentu jackets keep you and your gear warm and dry, offering useful features like lens and tripod pockets, in addition to some quirky ones like an extended hood to protect your camera from the rain.
Adobe gave the audience at MAX a sneak peek at some exciting new technology its developing. It's called Adobe Cloak: a highly capable Content Aware Fill-like feature for video editors.
Earlier today, Flickr moved its photo book printing service over to a third party services, and stopped offering any wall art options entirely.
The patent details a flipping rear LCD screen so large, Canon has had to hide the rear dial and several buttons underneath.
We've added a selection of extra images to our Nikon D850 gallery. As part of the process of rounding off the review we made sure a number of us had shot the camera in a variety of situations, we've added those shots to the gallery to give a broad cross section of how the camera performs.
Wiral LITE is an affordable, easy-to-use cable cam system that can do things a portable slider simply can't do, and go places no slider would dare go.
Not happy with the recent demise of Lightroom as a stand-alone, subscription free service? Macphun's got your back... or they will in 2018.
Once connected to a PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone, Pholio automatically searches through the device storage and backs up all images and videos—complete with auto-tagging and intelligent search capabilities.
The 360 Round uses eight horizontally positioned camera pairs and one upward-pointing single lens to capture and livestream panoramic 4K 3D content.
Introduced just three years ago, the Samsung NX1 was both a technological tour-de-force and a great camera to use, earning one of the highest scores we've ever awarded and winning our 2015 Innovation Award. But its short-lived run in the photo world leaves us wondering what could have been.
The Fujifilm X-E3 is styled like a classic rangefinder, but features a built-in touchscreen, AF joystick, and electronic viewfinder – truly an old school meets new type of camera. Lay some eyes on our sample gallery to see how it performs in the real world.
Like it or not, Adobe is embracing a cloud-centric, AI-rich future with the introduction of Lightroom CC. And that's a great thing, though you may not see it now, argues Rishi Sanyal.
The announcement of a more cloud-integrated Lightroom product sees the death of the company's standalone version. This need to make payments in perpetuity (whether you choose Lightroom Classic or CC), chips away at the idea that your Lightroom library is a long-term solution, argues Richard Butler.
The XPro-C 2.4GHz wireless flash trigger that Godox released for Canon users last month now has a Nikon equivalent—the aptly named XPro-N. Sony, Fujifilm and MFT versions are in the works.
In the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, camera and lens maker Sigma is extending its standard product warranty to cover damage caused by these three natural disasters.
The F4 Plus can can capture 360° stills, videos and broadcast livestream footage at 8K resolution... that's 7680 x 3840 pixels!
Lightroom is hogging the spotlight at Adobe MAX, but Photoshop CC got some substantial improvements as well. Find out what's new in the latest version of Photoshop CC.
The aptly-named 'Nude' app automatically detects NSFW images on your iPhone, moves them to a protected vault and deletes the original files in the camera roll and on iCloud.
The Zeiss Milvus family of manual-focus full-frame lenses just gained a new member. Meet the Zeiss Milvus 24mm F1.4: a fast, rugged new lens designed primarily for landscape and architecture photography.
Lightroom has built a brand new Lightroom CC from the ground up to be faster, easier to use, and cloud-based. The application formerly known as Lightroom CC will continue to exist, and will go by "Lightroom Classic CC."
Google Research did a deep dive on the Pixel 2 smartphone's background-blurring portrait mode that uses neural networking and dual-pixel technology instead of a dual-camera setup.
With the arrival of the PowerShot G1 X III, there are now seven Canon cameras built around the 24MP Dual Pixel sensor and Digic 7 processor. We take a look at the differences and what might prompt you to choose one over the others.
Meet the HP ZBook x2. The so-called 'world's most powerful and first detachable PC workstation,' it was built with creative professionals in mind, and is being debuted at Adobe MAX.
PDN sat down with Ahmed Fakhr, director of photography at RollingStone.com, to talk about how the famed publication is adapting to the changing photo and video needs of the modern era and how he 'evaluates the skills of potential contributors.'
Kudos to Canon. Earlier today, the camera giant announced that it had produced its 90 millionth EOS camera and 130 millionth EF-series lens.