Fstoppers Reviews: The Aputure D800 Battery Grip

Fstoppers Reviews: The Aputure  D800 Battery Grip

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?

Wrong.

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.Aputure D800 Battery Grip Charleston Wedding Photographer Nicholas Gore

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.

Aputure D800 Battery Grip Charleston Wedding Photographer Nicholas Gore

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

Ergonomics

What Could Be Improved:

Battery Placement

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.

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27 Comments

Have you compared it to the Pixel-version? If so, are there any noticable differences?

I haven't compared it to the Pixel version, but I use the Xit version which I believe is slightly cheaper, and the only difference is the "Open" engraving on the back of the grip is slightly deeper on the Aputure version. Otherwise they're identical.

Michael Kormos's picture

I can't imagine shooting without the grip on my D800, given that 8 out of 10 times I shoot in portrait mode. I never tried these third party grips (I use the Nikon one), partly because I didn't want them shorting out the circuits on my D800 (or the battery). Then again, that's just me being overly cautious. Over the years I've learned you get what you pay for, especially with professional photo gear. I'm all about build quality, attention to detail, durability, and quality of materials used. I recently had to replace my lens hood on my 50mm 1.4, and since Nikon's was out of stock, I got a third party replacement (which was $10 less). The plastic used, as well as the texture don't match. It just feels cheap.
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http://www.michaelkormosphotography.com

Michael Kormos's picture

I can't imagine shooting without the grip on my D800, given that 8 out of 10 times I shoot in portrait mode. I never tried these third party grips (I use the Nikon one), partly because I didn't want them shorting out the circuits on my D800 (or the battery). Then again, that's just me being overly cautious. Over the years I've learned you get what you pay for, especially with professional photo gear. I'm all about build quality, attention to detail, durability, and quality of materials used. I recently had to replace my lens hood on my 50mm 1.4, and since Nikon's was out of stock, I got a third party replacement (which was $10 less). The plastic used, as well as the texture don't match. It just feels cheap. http://www.michaelkormosphotography.com

I'm right there with you, 9 times out of 10 I would say you're absolutely correct, but in this case, the price difference is so huge and the quality difference is so negligible that I couldn't see the point in buying the Nikon model.

Also, 8 out of 10 times I'm talking out of my _____ , so there :-)

Does it shade your lens?

David Staggs's picture

You can set the D800 to use the battery in the grip first and then the one in the camera if the grip is attached. This way you can swap out batteries in the grip with a fresh charged one and not miss any action. Custom Setting d12 Page 298 of the manual.....

Frank Guido's picture

Can someone snow me where to buy the bp-md12 for $90.00.
Because it looks like you reviewed the md12 but paid for the d12

Hey Frank, Sorry we made a mistake with the pricing. The information from the factory was that it was $90, but they seem to have sent us the upgraded version instead. This particular version retails for $170, but the difference between this and the BP-D12 is only a slightly tougher body.

Frank Guido's picture

We'll let me know when you review the plastic one.

Well that's awesome, I went and bought the MD12 on eBay after reading this review yesterday, and just came back to discover you gave the wrong model number. THANKS GUYS.

Can we get a link to the actual product please? That seems to be an important element to any review article.

I've mentioned it before.....and i'll mention it again....Aputure? REALLY? A company can't spell APERTURE correctly? What the crap....way to dumb down our society even more....i have a buddy who every time he doesn't spell APERTURE correctly, i want to reach through the text message and strangle him....WTF, i wouldn't buy this product simply on their name alone...

Thats like refusing to upload your photos to Flickr because they missed the "e" . Brand names don't have to comply with the dictionary.....

First of all: I am sorry, but as a professional wedding photographer you can't spend the 450 euro for a grip that is welcomed for stability, vertical realease (again stability + your joints) and extra battery but decided to wait a WHOLE year? I too bought one without to wait for it, but decided to buy one after only 3 days (and I use it only now and then, not a full day!)
Your review is great for all the amateurs and not-so-lucky semi-pro's here, but:

I am wondering what kind of professional you are / and/or what you price your wedding-work..

Then: I never have any problems with my D800 choosing the grip-battery first and draining that one before switching to the D800's. It is a setting in the camera and works ALWAYS.

As far as pricing goed I also have a problem with the pro battery. The battery itself is a bit expensive, so I could buy the copy, but the charger from Nikon is also outrageously expensive, and there is still no copy for that one made. I am still using the simple batteries beacuse I never drain 2 batteries in 1 day.

Roman France's picture

Just because you can afford to be robbed doesn't mean you should be.

Just because something is branded as better, does not make it better. Competition gets your the best product for the lowest price. Who says you have to have Nikon accessories for a Nikon? That's like saying you shouldn't buy Belkin because it's not Apple. Also, you are not doing very good business practices if you are just shelling out $370 for a battery grip that you *sometimes" use. Why would you pay that? There are much more useful things for your money that would be better for your business.

read a bit better please!
I have not said that I am not mad at Nikon for robbing us, nor that you should not buy a second brand, but a year ago there was nothing but Nikon's.
then: Nothing is better for your business than troublefree arms and hands, as Nicholas clearly stated was his problem. And then he used it like that for a year. Maybe when you're under thirty you don't care, but later you don't want rsi and other pains to get in the way of your photography.
Then: when I say sometimes it means I usually make a few portraits a day, every day, where I hold it up for 30 minutes, not a whole day hours-long at a wedding.
The grip is on always.

After reading some of the comments, is it possible to "short out" any of the camera connections when using other than the Nikon grip? Also wonder how comparable the selection buttons are operationally between the two grips? It's hard for me to believe they can be so close to Nikon's quality for $90.

Hey guys, i dont know why spent 170 on plastic ... i bought this one and its just like the Nikons original Mag Alloy. http://www.ebay.com/itm/330955367025?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksi... Let me know if anyone other than me had experience with this... mine holds for now ( aprox 20 sessions).

Its good to see a good review for a third party product. Just because something has a brand name it doesn't mean to say its the best quality, you often find that 90% of the components in a cheap brand are identical to the expensive brands and sometimes its only the case that's different.

There are some poor third party products out there but some people seem to think its inconceivable and downright ridiculous to believe that one company could produce something to the same standard as another!

Still too high a price to pay for a battery holder.

Well, it's more than a battery holder, isn't it?

I have the Phottix grip, the only knockoff that has a magnesium build AFAIK. I couldn't regret the purchase of this more.

In far too many reviews, one sees sentences like "The build looks identical, the texture is the same etc". Yes, AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE.

Within a couple of months of regular usage, one can see the differences clearly. The buttons and dials have terrible play, the grip material wears out much faster and I HATE the lack of feel for the shutter release (The springy tactile feedback of the original shutter release is unmatched).

I bought a D7100 the other day as a backup camera and bought the original grip to go with it. a minute into using it made me realize what a terrible mistake I have made by getting the Phottix grip for the D800. The D7100's original grip feels like it's part of the body. The Phottix LOOKS like it, but FEELS tacked on.

I hate the feel of it so much that I am only relying on it now as a battery holder and counterweight for my 70-200. I almost bought the original grip, but decided to wait and see if Nikon launches a D4x which will have an integrated grip.

So yeah, no more third party grip for me. The real deal may not be cheap, but you really are getting your money's worth.

I purchased this grip based off the recommendation in the review.

#1) The initial review had the wrong model number so I ended up with the cheaper plastic $90 version. I stuck with it because upon correction the reviewer stated "the difference between this and the BP-D12 is only a slightly tougher body."

#2) The shutter button was inconsistent. The focus point button was also very inconsistent. Sometimes it would not work at all. Other times it would get stuck in one direction and the focus point would just move continuously in that direction.

#3) Having my camera set to use the grip battery first gave me problems during a portrait session. Once the battery in the grip went to 0% I began to get error messages on my camera whenever I pressed the shutter. The problem was solved by removing the grip and finishing the shoot without it.

I would not touch this product with a 10 ft pole.