When I preordered the Nikon D800 early last year, I purposely didn't order the battery grip for a few reasons. The first was that I didn't think I needed it, and the second was that the $450 price tag way way too steep, and seemed ridiculous for the product that I was getting. The first reason turned out to be dead wrong. Carrying my camera around for 8-10 hours a day as a wedding photographer meant that the joints in my right hand were always hurting. Maybe it was just because of how I held the camera, but either way, I realized I needed a battery grip to help balance the weight. But this meant I had to spend almost $500 right?
Last week we talked about Aputure 7" V-Screen which is a basic, but inexpensive video screen, and this week we're going to take a look at the Aputure BP-MD12. This is the battery grip for the Nikon D800 and at only $170, this is an amazing value, even when you put it up against the reduced price of the official Nikon grip. I'm usually the first person to tell you that the knock off brands are usually not worth the money. You're going to be replacing it in only a few months of heavy use right? Surprisingly, this grip feels just the same as the Nikon original. In fact, if there wasn't a label on it, I would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two. So, now lets take an in depth look at this battery grip.
Despite being a Chinese made copy of the now $350 Nikon D800 Battery Grip, I can't really tell the difference between the two. The quality of the plastic seems identical, the rubber is the same grippy material that you find on the original and all of the parts open and close with the same fit as the far more expensive Nikon. On the camera, everything works as well as you could expect it too. I have had this on the camera for the last two weeks nearly non-stop and I have yet to have a single issue with its functionality. The buttons work well, and I have never experienced any issues with the batteries not showing their proper charge.
As this is not exactly a feature rich product, there really isn't much to talk about in terms of it's features. That being said, the grip had a shutter button, along with both a front and rear knob that allows you to change the aperture and shutter speed without going back to the camera. The grip also has a button that allows you to change the focus point, and an AF-ON button.
The Grip also comes with an attachment for both a standard D800 battery, or a 8 AA Batteries. I haven't tested the camera using AA Batteries, but I can only imagine that it eats them like candy.
My only real issue with this grip is more of an issue with the design of both the Nikon and Aputure grips. The grip is set up to have a battery in the camera, and one in the grip. Which is great if your camera drains the battery in the grip first, and then the battery in the camera, but it doesn't always do that. So you're invariably left to unscrew the grip, remove the battery from the camera, and then replace the grip. It's not THAT much of an inconvenience, but during a wedding, it can take minute or two that I'd rather not lose.
That being said though, this is a great copy that is just about as close to identical to the original product as you can get.
This leads me directly into a discussion on price. There is absolutely no reason for you to spend $350 on the official Nikon battery grip. Buy this, or another copy. This has the same features, the same build quality, the same everything for only $170. Seriously, take your girlfriend out to dinner, buy an excellent 50mm f/1.8 lens, or just put it in your desk drawer, but do NOT spend the extra money for the official Nikon product. I won't say you'll regret it, but there's just no reason to do it.
If $170 seems like a lot, then go with the BP-D12, which only lacks the addition of a Magnesium Alloy frame and is only $90 dollars.
In the end, you've got a great product for only 25% of the price of the original. And I can't think of a better deal than that.
What I Liked:
Similarity to the Nikon product
Tough build quality
Grippy rubber coating
What Could Be Improved:
So, in conclusion, this is a solid buy. I personally would buy the less expensive BP-D12 because I don't think that the magnesium alloy frame would matter all that much, but as it is, I'm not generally one to go in completely on a product, but this one is pretty much a no brainer. If you want a grip for your D800, or any other camera for that matter (they make grips for the full Canon and Nikon line) this is definitely a company that you need to look into.
Interested in buying one? Take a look HERE.