The First Knockoff D800 MB-D12 Grip Has Arrived

The First Knockoff D800 MB-D12 Grip Has Arrived

When Nikon first released the MB-D12 battery grip for the Nikon D800 it cost a staggering $615. Since then the price has fallen to a still ridiculous $429. We have been waiting patiently for an affordable 3rd party version and today I got an email from a reader that they were available on ebay. The "Pixel MB-D12" is a much more affordable $109.00. I just purchased one and once it shows up from Japan (at least 30 days) I'll review it. I'm hoping this grip is as good as the last fake I got.

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45 Comments

Shipped from Japan, but I wonder if it's made there. Not to say that point of origin determines quality, I'm just curious. If it's made in Japan and still that price AND works well, why would Nikon's be so pricey? Just because it has "NIKON" written on it? 

For what it's worth (Not $420, that's for sure), the Nikon grip is weather-sealed and made with the same magnesium alloy material as the camera. This knock-off is plastic.

I'm pretty sure the knock off for the D7000 felt exactly the same as the Nikon one.

Not even close. I bought one, tried it out and sent it back the same day.

Lee Morris's picture

I don't think you had the same one I did. Mine felt almost exactly the same. 

The Nikon version costs more because Nikon invested in the engineering and development of the product, provides a warranty, and in my experience has better build quality. The knockoff is cheaper because all they had to do is rip off an existing design and manufacture it.

http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/2012/06/so-lets-talk-about-knockoffs-in... still can't believe you guys post this stuff.

Lee Morris's picture

Hey Chad, I'm not sure I agree with you in this case. Nikon makes grips for all of their major DSLRs so engineering and development doesn't really apply here. It's simply a battery pack with some buttons on it. When another company creates their own grip (and does not steal the exact design but makes their own) and can sell it for 25% or in some cases 10% of the cost and still make money, it means that Nikon is making a killing on the grips. 

To me this is the same as a Lens cap. A Nikon cap is $15 but another company could make a similar cap and sell it for $1 and still make a profit. This doesn't mean they are stealing from Nikon, they just made a cheaper cap. It's up to the consumer in this situation to decide what they want to buy.

Just a battery pack with buttons?

They need build the whole circuit board in it, run the test that makes sure it can last as long as a nikon should (which, alone, can take several weeks of testing), than have a plant that can produces them and pay for the quality checks to ensure Nikon standards.

Cheap knockoffs: Look at the product, measure a few things, retroengineer the circuit (read "copy without thinking and cheaping on things you don't know"), produce and sell.

No engineering, no testing, no quality guaranteed, no need for test facilities or knowledge... 

Comparing an electronic product with a lens cap.... come on.

Patrick Hall's picture

any chance that the company that makes the boards for Nikon just sells them under the table to the rip offs?  The stuff that happens overseas never ceases to amaze me.

Not exactly. what is MOST probable and what you are inffering, is that they don't toss out the rejects from Nikon quality controls.

They put it in the cheap copies. Most manufactures in China do business like this and Companies accept this because the labor cost is soooo low that they (china) can dictate the rules of the games.

Like those home brand cookies that are the same than the National brand, they are just overstock that can't be sold under the same name for risk of depreciating the product.

Yeah, I probably shouldn't try to stick up for Nikon. My MB-D11 quit working right after the warranty expired. Still, when one company makes a direct copy of another company's product it just seems wrong to me. 

Knowing when it's a copy, or left over from a big company is the tough part....

Alex's picture

What stuck to my mind with that blog post was the ironic fact that we photographers who are sensitive to copyrights and intellectual properties when it comes to our work could be so insesitive to the copyrights of the manufacturers of the tools we use.

asdf

its ridiculous what they charge us,  for sometimes the exact same thing...   i dropped my old canon grip., and found a knock off on ebay.. ordered it.. the grip, 2 batteries, and a portable car charger was $55 canadian, shipped.  Arrived in 2 weeks and worked exactly the same as my old cannon one...  for less than the price of 1 battery.  Wow Canon!

In my line of work these plastic knock-offs aren't durable enough. If you baby your camera they might work fine, but with heavy use you'll be buying another one in no time at all. 

I doubt that $109 grip could take abuse like this and still work:

Michael Kormos's picture

Agreed. Nikon prices these grips for those that need them, working professionals that use (and abuse) their gear on a daily basis and require a grip for vertical shots/extra battery.  Buttons and dials are weathersealed, rubber grip won't wear out as easily, and the unit as a whole will last as long as your main body.  Sure there are cheap knock offs, and a day's review  comparing the two doesn't really justify the end result of years of use.  A photographer who earns his living with his camera won't have a problem paying the premium.

We pay a premium for anything with a brand name on it. When it comes to performance that simply cannot fail - optics, strobes and the body - sure, the premium is worth it. However, I'm not one for extortion and this MB-D12 is currently the poster child for wallet rape.

At the end of the day, I'd MUCH rather have the Nikon grip. For $250 I'd pick one up. I have one for my old D700. However, I can get through a shoot WITHOUT it. I'd be gambling my $110 on the nice possibility that it would work out unexpectedly well. 

One could purchase FOUR of these for the price of the D12. Now, I wouldn't do that. If the third party adapter failed, I'd likely call it quits and hope that by that time Nikon had sufficiently enjoyed it's 1000% markup and knocked the price down to the low $300s or upper $200s - where they'd still turn a healthy profit. 

I'm often willing to fork out the extra money for better equipment and I'm for companies making money, but in some cases, sanity must prevail. If this grip did something that was groundbreaking - i.e. had built in GPS, WiFi, an extra card slot; anything to JUSTIFY the markup - I could possibly talk myself into it. That's not currently the case.

Look forward to hearing your opinion on this product!

You guys go on about high prices of equipment - in the UK the 
MB-D12 is about £368 or about $580 !!!

Tobias Solem's picture

I was waiting for this, I do understand Nikon's logic - wanting to compete more with the cameras and make the extra bucks on the paraphernalia. But as a consumer I still want to at least have more features if I'm picking the main brand one, such as WiFi or something, if all I get is extra battery time and more grip, then I'll get my 
MB-D12 for less.

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

Lee Morris laughed at me when I bought a fake grip for my D300. Just saying.

Tobias Solem's picture

Well dude, he said himself he couldn't tell the difference until he tried switching the battery sockets between the two grips.

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

yeah I laughed at him for that, seems fair. 

Lee Morris's picture

Your D300 grip was a terrible reproduction. I'm hoping this one will be better made. 

Patrick Hall's picture

I think it really comes down to the build quality on these and if the tray is interchangeable with the D7000 grip.  If they feel cheap and plasticy then maybe the Nikon will be warranted.  If it's similar to the ripoff one Lee got off Amazon then it will probably be a great deal if it's 1/4th the price.  

Pixyst's picture

Okay, when the MB-D10 was introduced, that was something special (described here: http://imaging.nikon.com/history/scenes/21/), because they had the good sense to copy Pentax's design and and get rid of that stupid smokestack. It was expensive at over $200, but well designed and well built. The MB-D12 however, offers nothing we haven't seen before and I personally was very disappointed to see that it even existed. There  is no practical reason why the D800 bottom plate could not have been designed to fit the MB-D10 (I was actually looking forward to that). This is pure price gouging - charging an amount that could buy a fully functional camera for a battery pack with electrical contacts and buttons - no justification whatsoever!

Alex's picture

I prefer not to use a cheap knock-off battery or battery grip on my expensive camera.

deymanuel.com's picture

it looks a bit plasticky doesn't it?

Daf's picture

My Nikon Original grip for the D200 is quite plastic like.

Seeing as I don't use it very often a plastic equivalent of MB-D12 would be just fine as long as it works the same.
Pixel seem to be a good make for making non-brand accessories - probably a good alternative.

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