Review: Hercules Battery Grip
|Table of Contents|
|Intro||Who is this for||How I use this||Whats to like|
|Whats to hate||My Verdict||Where to buy||Alternatives|
Why choose a 3rd party battery grip? That's a very good question. To answer that, you first have to answer this question. Are you a "gear snob"? If you answered "yes" then stop reading because you will not buy anything from any other company except the one you're already partial to, regardless of how good (quality and / or pricing) the other brand's gadget is. If you answered "no" then keep reading, there may be some useful info for you below. The main reason for buying 3rd party, in my opinion, is the cost vs quality vs functionality. Other deciding factors would be: your budget, your "image", your stance on corporate responsibility. If budget is of no concern, then the obvious choice is to buy the best, which usually means the most expensive. So, what is a battery grip? It's a device that attaches to the bottom of your camera and allows you to insert 2 of your camera's batteries. Most come with an adapter tray for you to use AA batteries. Aside from this, it provides a more comfortable way of shooting in portrait orientation (camera held in a vertical position) hence battery grips are sometimes referred to as, vertical grips.
Budget conscious photographer not concerned with brand image
At first glance, from the front, the only way to tell that the grip is a third party one, is the lack of a corporate brand badge. From the back, the only difference is the lack of rubber gripping on the battery door. Button placement is the same as original. Even the opening for a wired battery back is there, as you can see in the photo.
The mounting screw (on battery grip) to camera is metal, as is the receptacle for tripod base plate on the bottom of the battery grip. There is a loop for attachment of a strap on the bottom as well.
The finish of the battery grip is not exactly the same as the Canon 5D Mark II but you'd have to look pretty close to be that picky about it.
In the "stalk" portion of the grip (the part that slides into the camera's battery compartment, is a small groove that is meant to hold the camera's battery door.
|Where to buy (also alternate versions)|
When shooting vertical (portraits) and using heavy lenses, a battery grip is essential. Not only does it provide your thumb the buttons you normally would use in when shooting in landscape orientation but it also balances the camera better when a heavy lens is attached. I utilize the camera strap loop on the grip and the opposite (diagonally) camera strap loop on the camera body to make the lens always pointing down regardless of lens size/weight. This pretty much makes it near impossible to scratch my glass when I'm out and about (I always use my lens hood, properly too).
The buttons and dials are all in the same place as the original. All buttons/dials work as you'd expect, no lagging or difficulties in depressing, rotating. They do feel different than the ones on camera, they feel more "clicky.. The on/off switch is just that, it works, doesn't feel like it's gonna twist off, although it might look like it will. The three thumb buttons (on the back) retain whatever custom settings (on the camera) that you set them for.
The knob to secure the battery grip to the camera body is sturdy and does not wiggle.
The battery door cover does not wiggle around when closed unlike some other 3rd party brand and there is an included AA battery tray. The spring loaded battery retaining clips feel sturdy as well. As does the unlock switch that opens the battery door. Note that this opens the same way as the original Canon battery grip as opposed to side loading in a tray as some of the other 3rd party battery grips.
When secured to the camera, the Hercules battery grip does not wiggle, squeak, creak or feel like it's going to twist off your camera. It feels solid. Even when holding it by the grip with a 70-200 f2.8L ISU lens or the 100-400 L. The grip feels solid !
Battery status/levels is reporting properly and accurately.
There are a few shortcomings that are worth mentioning:
1) It's plastic as opposed to magnesium alloy frame on the original Canon battery grip
2) The joins are not flush and or have gaps
3) No rubber on battery door
4) No weather sealing
After putting it through it's paces where I had it bump walls, knocked on the floor, below 0 Celsius, dangled from a shoulder harness for hours outdoors, rained on, constantly grabbed onto while pulling out from holster and sling bags on the go I only had to tighten the grip once in the 2 weeks of travel in Europe's winter weather in 3 countries.
This grip held up much to my surprise, especially after getting rained on (it got wet but wasn't soaked or submerged). I had to go into a gift shop to buy a towel to dry off my gear. For less than 1/3 the price for a Canon grip (5D mk II) I'd gladly make this purchase again.
More Photos in my Flickr set