Zeikos D800 Battery Grip Review

Nikon received quite a backlash when it released the MB-D12 battery grip and priced it at a whopping $616. While Nikon users have long been willing to pay a premium for genuine Nikon products, it was pretty clear that a good percentage of D800 customers were not going to bite at the MB-D12 price.

Third party accessory providers saw a huge opportunity and wasted no time in exploiting it. The first wave of MB-D12 imitators started showing up for sale on the internet in June of this year, approximately 4 months after the announcement of the D800. There are now a number of third party MB-D12 suppliers. Pixel, Meike, Zeikos, Phottix, and Vello are among the more popular names you will find serving this market. Some no-name grips even sell for as low as $25 on eBay. And although Nikon’s website still lists the MB-D12 for $616, you can now find it selling for $389 at B&H.

Zeikos_D800_Grip_Box

Although I always purchase the corresponding battery grip when I get a new DSLR, I have to admit that my grips have spent much more time on the shelf than attached to my cameras. I do find that they come in handy. And as long as they are reasonably priced, I will likely continue to do purchase them. The MB-D12, however, was a bit too pricey for my taste. Based on the feedback I had read, I realized I wasn’t alone. The market was hungry for a reasonably-priced alternative to the MB-D12. Enter the Zeikos ZE-NBGD800 Battery Grip…

Zeikos_Manual

1) Initial Impressions

I have to admit that my expectations were not all that high for the Zeikos grip, particularly considering it was selling for approximately 1/5th of the price of the Nikon MB-D12 grip ($75 vs. $389). After all, it is a well-known fact if a product which costs more that of a competitor, it must be better, right? :)

I didn’t have an original Nikon MB-D12 grip to compare to the Zeikos ZE-NBGD800 battery grip, but I did have a Nikon MB-D11 battery grip for a D7000. I looked over the exterior of both grips and couldn’t notice any material differences with respect to fit, finish, controls, and overall quality. I pulled out the battery trays and looked inside each with a flashlight. Each appeared to be very similarly designed on the inside as well. If you would have covered the Zeikos label, I would have thought I was looking over a genuine Nikon product. It even sported a metal post (inserts into DSLR) as opposed to some of the polymer posts I have seen on other third party D800 battery grip models. So far, so good!

Zeikos D800_Grip 1

2) What’s In The Box?

The Zeikos comes with the battery grip extension, a tray for an EL-EN15 battery, and another tray to accommodate 8 AA batteries. The Zeikos grip does not have a battery tray such as Nikon’s BL-5 which enables users to utilize an EN-EL18 (used for the Nikon D4). For those that make heavy use of a battery grip, the EN-EL18 provides a bit more juice than the EN-EL15, and thus the option to use the former may be appealing. Some Zeikos grip competitors do offer a BL-5 compatible tray. It would be interesting to see if the Zeikos unit would accept the BL-5.

Zeikos D800_Grip Bottom View

Zeikos D800_Grip Side View 2

Zeikos D800_Grip Side View 1

Zeikos D800_Grip Top View

3) Build Quality

I attached the Zeikos grip to my D800 and tightened the locking wheel as much as I could. There was no play in the connection and the grip felt as if it was part of the D800. I did the same for my D7000 and the MB-D11. Each grip seemed equally tight when coupled to each of the DSLRs.

I did notice a very tiny sliver of light between the Zeikos grip and the D800 underneath the right side of the LCD, showing that the connection was not perfectly flush. I detached the grip and attempted to mount it again but encountered the same issue. How slight of a gap? I could barely slide a piece of paper into the gap. I did not notice any light leaks between the grip on the D7000.

The slight space between the D800 and the Zeikos grip did not seem to impact the stability of the pair. I probably wouldn’t even have noticed this sliver of light unless I had been performing a product review and holding the camera and grip up to a bright light. I could only see this gap if I held the camera at a very specific angle. I put some additional pressure on the Zeikos, to determine if the slight gap represented something less than a solid fit, but the unit showed no play whatsoever against the D800.

The Zeikos D800 and Nikon D7000 grip weighed 242 and 244 grams respectively. I did some hunting but couldn’t find the weight of the Nikon MB-D12. If you know the weight, please pass it along for comparison purposes.

Zeikos_Battery Grip On_D800_Front

Zeikos_Battery Grip On_D800_Side

4) Controls & Operation

I have read a number of reviews of third party battery grips that listed “mushy controls” as one of the main differences between the third parties’ and the original manufacturers’ products. Not so with the Zeikos controls. They felt indistinguishable from their Nikon counterparts. Each control worked flawlessly.

The Zeikos grip sported the same set of controls as the Nikon MB-D12: Joy stick for selecting the AF point, moving forward/backward between photos, changing the LCD layout, AF focus, shutter button, and shutter button lock. Apart from the very slight amount of light I detected between the D800 and the Zeikos grip, I did not notice any differences in feel, fit, finish, or functionality between the grips. Zeikos seems to have done its homework.

5) Value

With its quality build, responsive controls, and bargain price of $75, the Zeikos grip represents a great value. I would have rated it higher were it not for the paper-thin gap I discovered. I did not judge this gap to be a material issue.

Time will tell how well it will stand up to use in the field. But based on the positive feedback from many others using Zeikos grips made for other DSLRs, however, I expect this grip will prove to be a reliable partner for my Nikon D800.

6) Where To Buy

You can find the Zeikos NBG-D800 Grip at B&H for $74 (as of 01/09/2013).

Zeikos D800 Battery Grip Review3.9Bob Vishneski2013-01-10 01:13:20Nikon received quite a backlash when it released the MB-D12 battery grip and priced it at a whopping $616. While Nikon users have long been willing to…
Build Quality
Handling
Value
Features
Packaging and Manual
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Avatar of Bob Vishneski About Bob Vishneski

Bob Vishneski works in the media software industry and is an avid photographer. He has held management and technical positions during his career in such areas as computer manufacturing, imaging software and document management systems, enterprise systems development, and consulting. Bob rediscovered his love for photography in 2007, after picking up a Pentax K10D and realized that his background in the computer industry could prove useful in the age of digital photography. When he is not focusing on the challenges of the software development industry, he spends time traveling with his wife, Tanya, and family, golfing, and honing his photography and Photoshop skills. He is a member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers. Bob and his family reside in the Pittsburgh area. His work can be found at 500px.

Comments

  1. Avatar of Romanas Naryškin
    1
    ) Romanas Naryškin

    Bob, I presume it is still made of plastic rather than magnesium?

    • Roman,
      I think “polymer” is probably a better description. I don’t have an issue with polymer components per se, since, as we have seen with firearms, today’s polymers are extraordinarily tough and can take quite a bit of abuse.
      Bob

  2. 2
    ) John Richardson

    I hear Phottix has just come out with a magnesium one for the D800. I think my question to you Bob is after you use it and your battery runs down, how accurately does it read your charge as opposed to the internal circuits in the D800? This is the only camera aside from my F2 that doesn’t have a grip and I am interested on one but not Nikon’s !! Thanks for the review!

    • John,
      I did see that Phottix is offering a magnesium based unit for $189. I don’t know how important this is considering that the heaviest lens I might use on a tripod with a D800 might be a 24-700mm. Larger lenses such as the 70-200mm f/2.8 or 300mm f/4 would have their own tripod collar thus taking pressure off the battery grip.
      Bob

  3. A nice thorough review. I have the MB-D10 grip for my D700, but after looking at various third-party grips for my new D600 I went with the Pixel version of the MB-D14 and so far it’s great. The finish matches the camera body, the grip feels great in the hands, and the build is nice and solid. Controls are responsive and not mushy, and it mounts on the body solidly. What’s not to like?

    • Bitanphoto,
      Quality and value do not necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg! ;)
      Bob

  4. According to the User’s manual, the MB-D12 weighs approx 280g with the MS-D12EN holder for the EN-EL15 battery (365g with battery installed) or 270g with the MS-D12 holder for AA batteries.

    I got mine because I found a Nikon table that erroneously showed I could use the EN-EL4a batteries from my D3s with an appropriate adaptor. This is not possible because Nikon deliberately switched sides for the contacts.

    The cheap generic ones may well be fine. However, there are two reasons why I am happy to have a Nikon one. One is weather sealing which may be better on the Nikon one and the second is the tripod screw. I use Black Rapid slings so the camera hangs upside down from the tripod screw. I would not want that to fail.

    • Murray,
      I understand your point. To be honest, I have never been comfortable with the notion of my d800 and 24-70 f/2.8 lens dangling from a Black Rapid-style hook – even without a battery grip. You are more confident the tripod screw adapter than I am! ;)
      Bob

  5. 5
    ) Brian Lentine

    Thanks for the good review. I have hesitated to buy a non-nikon grip for my D800 because none of them have the groove on the bottom like the Nikon MD-12. This groove is used by the RRS L-Plate for the MD-12. The RRS L-Plate will not work on off brand grips if it doesn’t have this groove. Your picture of the bottom of the Zeikos grip does indeed show this groove which initially got me excited. So I checked B&H website and they do not have a picture of the bottom of the grip. (The reviews on the B&H website are not so good.) So I checked Amazon and they have two grips from Zeikos that fit the D800. The one with the model number of the one you reviewed does not have this groove in the picture. So I’m confused which picture is correct? Would you please confirm that your Zeikos grip has this groove?

    • Brian,
      There is indeed a groove on the bottom of the Zeikos unit on the back directly under the LCD. It looks like an elongated triangle.
      Bob

  6. 6
    ) Jeff Kennedy

    Compatability with a battery holder tray for the higher capacity Nikon EN-EL18 battery would be critical to my purchase decision. The capacity difference between the two batteries is enormous on a shots per charge. I know, because my two FX bodies are a D800 and a D4. I’d like to standardize on the EN-EL18 battery for bith bodies.

    Is there any chance you could test the fi of a Nikon BL-5 Battery Chamber Cover for MB-D12 Battery Pack in the Zeikos unit? Or call Zeikos to see if they plan on their own version of that tray? Thanks.

    • Jeff,
      I emailed Zeikos today and asked if their unit would accept a BL-5 tray. I don’t have a BL-5 tray handy or I would indeed test it. As I mentioned, I don’t use battery grips often so I would be happy to use the EN-EL15 in this unit. Will update the post when I hear back from Zeikos.
      Bob

  7. 7
    ) HomoSapiensWannaBe

    Thanks for the review! I’m considering a 3rd party grip for the D600. At this time, the Zeikos ZE-NBGD600 is $100 at B&H. They also carry the XIT XTNG600 for the same price. While these prices are about 2x higher than similar grips on eBay from other vendors, it is probably worth dealing with B&H and getting a 1 year warranty. Meanwhile, the B&H customer reviews on the D800 grip reviewed here are not all favorable. I think I’ll wait a little while to let others do the testing for me!

    • HSWB,
      I have been a long-time fan of B&H for their customer service policies. Saving $5 or $10 means little when you run into an issue and can’t rely on the seller. B&H has never failed to provide excellent service.
      I read the B&H reviews. The 1 star and the 3 star ratings it received from 2 customers had some negative comments. The others were positive. I perused the web and found some good feedback for other Zeikos grips. And as I mentioned, I held the Zeikos next to my MB-D11 grip and didn’t notice any differences.
      Bob

  8. 8
    ) Naftoli

    im pretty sure using a 3rd party grip will void the warranty, i had a scary 20 minutes last night when while shooting some product photos my d800 all of a sudden shut off and would not respond. at the time i had a pearstone battery in the camera, i removed it and replaced it with the nikon one, when i turned on the camera it displayed an error message on the lcd and the shutter release was disabled. i tried removing the memory card, and lens turning the camerra off, still error. i tried to do a 2 button reset but it didnt respond. finally i put a speedlight in the hotshoe and set it to ttl i pressed the shutter release and all of a sudden the error message disappeared and the camera was fine! i called Nikon the rep said he is almost 100% certain the error was b/c of the battery and it would void the warranty, i tried the Pearstone battery again and it worked fine, but i dont think i will be using it anymore.

    • 10
      ) Marc Feldesman

      Why would using a third party grip void the warranty? If you are using nikon batteries and the camera ceases to work while using the grip how would nikon even know what grip or whether you were using a grip when the camera failed. Also, they allow the use of AA batteries and a variety of memory cards. I just don’t see how this would be evident.

      • 28
        ) Naftoli

        Marc, you make a good point there, i dont know how Nikon could tell if i used a 3rd party battery or grip, at the time i was speaking to the nikon rep i didnt think of that

    • 52
      ) Ricardo Pineda

      Hello Naftoli:
      I have a Battery Grip MB-D12. with original Nikon box and manual for my D800. I had the same problem, I was shutting and in a moment stop. The LCD “err” mesage was blinking, the lcd was off. The shutter does not work. I had to turn off the body take off the battery grip and it worked. I installed the battery grip and the problem back.

      Do you have more information about?

      Thanks and sorry for my bad English.

      • 53
        ) Naftoli

        Hi Ricardo,

        sorry i dont think i have any further info, i only had the camera lock up when using a 3rd party battery. i have since been only using Nikon Batteries in my camera

  9. 9
    ) Joe

    Here are the weights for the MB-D12:
    365 g (12.9 oz) with MS-D12EN and optional EN-EL15 battery
    Approx. 460 g (16.3 oz) with MS-D12 and eight AA batteries (available separately from third-party suppliers)
    Approx. 310 g (11.0 oz) with MS-D12EN and optional EP-5B power connector
    Approx. 425 g (15.0 oz) with optional BL-5 and EN-EL18 battery
    Approx. 280 g (9.9 oz) with MS-D12EN
    Approx. 270 g (9.6 oz) with MS-D12

    • Joe,
      Thanks for posting the weights. I suspect the extra 28 grams is due to the magnesium in the Nikon MB-D12. If I were hanging my Nikon D800 and 24-70mm f/2.8 from a Black Rapid strap all day long, I might consider the importance of a magnesium battery grip shell vs. the polymer, but I only use battery grips sparingly, and when I do hand hold the camera.
      Bob

  10. Well, here is what I discovered with Zeikos grip and D800:

    - When grip attached without battery – camera won’t work blinking dead battery even if the battery in camera is full and set first in priority…

    - Wen you put EN-EL15 into the grip – it resets number of shots in battery to zero!!!

    Well, I am getting a little nervous about these issues so it goes back to B&H… I guess if I am going to really need a grip – I am going to spend 5 times more and get back the original… Zeikos is too glitchy right now and nobody knows what is going to happen after next firmware updates (I red some stories when aftermarket grips quit working after updates)

    Just FYI for those who are thinking about getting Zeikos grip for D800/D800E…

    • Karen,

      Thanks for sharing this. I just tested mine and found that I also got a flashing battery symbol when the tray is inserted into the Zeikos unit – regardless of the order of the batteries found in the customized settings. I found that if I took the tray out, the power came back on.

      Is that a big deal to me? Not really. Why would I want to attach a battery grip if I wasn’t going to put a battery in it and use it? My D7000 and MB-D11 did not exhibit this behavior. The D7000 worked fine with an empty battery tray in the MB-D11 – regardless of the battery order in the customized menu setting.

      Anything is possible via a firmware update, but I suspect the chances are slim. For the $315 savings on a battery grip which I use sparingly? I will take that chance. Just my humble 2 cents. As I mentioned, if using a battery grip were much more important to me or, as Murray suggested, I were to hang my D800, heavy lens, and battery grip on a Black Rapid strap, I would place a bit more importance on the magnesium frame of the Nikon MB-D12.

      Everyone needs to assess these products in light of their specific needs and determine whether the pros/cons of each align with them.

      Bob

  11. 21
    ) John Richardson

    After some research, it seems I have found complaints about many 3rd party grips. Though the difference between metal and plastic is only of little concern to me, weather sealing is of a little more due to my location. But, more importantly are the little electronic errors I have been reading about. Like going to Live view and having the camera shut down and ERR coming up on the top LCD, things like PIC counts resetting back to zero and a few other small things.

    Small though they may be, think this through a little; pick up your $3000 (in rounded $) camera in your hand. Think about the price, and think again, can you afford to replace that D800 tomorrow if it failed on you today? Do you have the extra $ to buy a new one? Can you wait to have it repaired. Did you have to save for it? Did you have to convince your significant other to spend that much money? Even if you have a business, can you drop another 3k?

    If we eeked out the money for this camera and maybe a better lens or more, business or not, why would we consider skimping on something that has something to do with the actual internal working other than a lens? A lens gives some feed back via the power supplied by the camera but it does not generate power. A grip on the other hand is supplying power directly into your $3000 hand held computer. POWER, not light.

    The fact that there are some complaints about the workings of the 3rd party grips (easy to find on Google) makes me stop right there. Why? Because I can use a 30 year old Nikkor lens on my D800 and it still works, it may have to be manual but it still works, and my camera is still happy. But to have voltage going through a circuit INTO my camera is another story. Yes, the 3rd party grips look the same, maybe a little cheaper in quality, maybe they do the job, BUT when they do not do the job electronically that tells me that the circuits in the 3rd party grips are not correct. They are not functioning properly and the thought of bad voltage into my $3000 circuits, stops me cold. The former Electronics Engineer in my head tells me NO. An ERROR is an ERROR. Period.

    As a photographer, I want to save a few bucks because the Nikon grip is way overpriced, I am not happy even with the price it is today. But the Engineer in me says go OEM. You can CAD out some plastic parts, but the chances of the company making that 3rd party grip having someone to completely reverse engineer the complete circuitry, including the coding buried in some of the chips, seems unlikely given it is already easy to find their errors on the net. So far, the only complaint about the Nikon grip is the price, I can live with that complaint.

    As a POOR photographer (as in crappy photographer and lack of $), I can’t afford to replace my D800, I can’t afford to replace it because I knowingly skimped on a power source or even the power source’s conduit. I don’t even buy 3rd party batteries. So, as much as I miss the grip on the D800, I will save the extra $ to go OEM, going with the product that was designed specifically for the camera’s electronics that sits on top of it. Before you ask, yeah I use a third party lens or three from Tokina, but then optical physics is a horse of a different color, and much safer to mess with.
    I advise save for the Nikon grip, as much as it pains us. I am not comfortable with software and hardware errors form non OEM manufacturers. Call me paranoid, but call me safe.

    Sorry to be long winded, I don’t get much English practice these days!

    • John,

      I understand your points all too well. Would I pay a bit of a premium for the OEM brand? Sure. Would I pay a 5X premium? Not based on my needs for a battery grip.

      Much of your argument however is based on the fact that the premium paid for the OEM is being invested in some superior engineering, manufacturing, or quality efforts. That may or may not be the case. You only need look at Consumer Reports for a variety of products to realize that quality and price are not always correlated. Sometimes paying a higher price simply means paying more and nothing else.

      Having been a loyal Consumer Reports reader, I can attest to the fact that, for many products, price, features, and quality, are not as tightly coupled as some would like us to believe. And having worked in business and engineering fields for my career, I can also say that huge price differences between vendors/products are not always justified by any objective criteria as well.

      We know that many companies make significant margin on product add-ons vs. the core product. Thus we often find companies attempting to use the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) tactic to help us justify paying significantly more for something. Walk in to any Best Buy and listen to the speeches on HDMI cable differences if you doubt this! ;)

      While I understand your concern regarding third party grips, it doesn’t take long to find many instances on the net for issues with Nikon’s own grips (or those of any other OEM). You can find many electrical issues tied to just about any camera or add-on. How about this product recall issued by Nikon after a few cameras melted? So much for the electric safety of OEM equipment… :)

      http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Service-And-Support/Service-Advisories/h0ndzaip/EN-EL15-Battery-Recall-Service-Advisory.html

      If you have read any of the posts on the D800 focus issues, you would realize that even the OEMs have some significant issues with their own products. Having spent weeks testing, analyzing, and dealing with Nikon regarding these focus issues, and having others email me regarding theirs, I don’t have as much confidence in the OEM’s engineering teams as some others. After all, it is much easier to put some money into increasing profit margins by convincing customers your product is superior than actually building a better product.

      There are plenty of solid products made by companies that are as well made as those by the OEMs which sell for a lot less. The internet has become the great equalizer to what we get fed via product advertising. There are enough websites and posts regarding users’ experiences with all manner of products that act as a counterbalance to some of the bias inherent in advertising messages. Hopefully the reviews of Photography Life and others on the net can help people make informed decisions regarding product quality, price, and value. If the third parties produce unreliable products, their reputations and product sales will plummet quickly. While some have reported issues with Zeikos grips, one can say the same for Nikon’s grips and its other products well.

      Thanks for weighing in!

      Bob

    • 27
      ) John Richardson

      Point(s) taken Bob! Thanks!

  12. 22
    ) Lee

    Hi Bob, thanks for a great review! Your Zeikos grip has definitely caught my interest. I’m curious — does it let you fire bursts at 6 fps (in DX mode, and with AA batteries)?

    • Lee,
      Indeed it does fire at 6fps in DX mode with both the EN-EL15 and the 8 AA battery trays. I also updated the original post, as I mistakenly listed that the tray took 6 batteries instead of 8. Thanks for asking about this one.
      Bob

      • 30
        ) Lee

        Thank you!!

  13. 23
    ) Anders

    Hello Bob, the price difference is significant, but personally I would never ever add a third-party grip to my d800.

    I paid a lot for the camera and if I decided that I needed a battery grip I would get the Nikon even if it is expensive. The reason is that I would feel much more safe with the original grip as it is designed to work flawlessly with the d800.

    Getting a third-party grip would for me be a little like buying an expensive sports car and mount it with tires that are not quite up to standards to save a few bucks :-)

    • Anders,

      Read my response above (#24). Your response assumes that the extra money paid for the Nikon grip went into some superior engineering, manufacturing, or quality efforts. That may or may not be the case. Sometimes, it simply goes to the OEM’s bottom line. There are many happy customers of OEM and third party battery grips. Likewise, you can find issues reported regarding each. I never assume “paying more = getting more.” Sometimes it does. Many times it does not.

      I would indeed pay a bit of a premium for a OEM brand for two reasons – 1. a bit of reassurance with respect to compatibility with the associated product, and 2. Resale value. In this case, however, Nikon’s high price for its MB-D12 has strained my and many others ability to justify this premium. The quality of the materials, in my humble opinion, certainly doesn’t seem to warrant paying 5X the cost for the Nikon version. Others may (and obviously do!) feel differently about this topic.

      Bob

  14. Hello,
    and thanks for the article. Finally someone has the courage to write about it.
    I use the grip of Phottix on my D800 – and everything works perfectly. From flash to the battery indicator – everything perfectly. It is not a magnesium case, but I save some weight. So far I was not afraid, my use strip it. Even the operation of the switches and buttons is ok.
    Who can burn money that buys the original ;-)
    Sorry for my bad English – translatetd by Google :-)

    Christian

  15. 31
    ) Jagan Bontha

    Bob – I have had nikon cameras & lenses for the past 20 years starting with film. Over this time, I have skimped several times with third party products (mainly lenses) only to find that I have never been completely happy with them. The IQ was not the same, images were soft, etc. I’ve never been disappointed with nikon products. Now i buy nothing but nikon products. My point being that kind of “brand loyalty” comes for years (decades in the case of nikon) of consistently delevering high quality products where the customer needs to worry about image composition and capturing the great pictures. When I take my d800 with its MB-d12 my focus is on the job and not whether my equipment will fail me. I believe that the extra 300 is worth the peace of mind.

    • Jagan,

      While I am well aware of the concept of brand loyalty, but your comments regarding Nikon don’t seem to match the experience many had with the D800 focusing issue. I too think highly of Nikon’s products, but they are not above putting out defective products, mishandling product issues, and making mistakes on repairs. Nikon has always done right by me at the end of the day, but it was more often than not my pressing the issue, escalating my concerns through management ranks, etc.

      In the case of my D800 focus problems, I was able to return my DSLR within the return policy window to B&H. I simply refused to keep sending it back to Nikon only to find they didn’t fix the issue. Nikon’s lack of acknowledging this problem was infuriating and an example of how not to handle a product problem:

      http://photographylife.com/d800-caviar-sardines-orspam
      http://photographylife.com/anatomy-of-a-nikon-d800-fix#more-33478

      For those that purchased D800s and dealt with getting their cameras fixed, wondering why Nikon didn’t communicate better regarding the issue, etc., there was little “peace of mind.” I suspect that if some of us were not so invested in Nikon systems (flashes, lenses, controllers, etc.), we would have seriously considered jumping ship.

      At the same time, there are other companies that make some very solid products. Both Tamron and Sigma have been upping their game, producing some very good lenses that equal or beat some of those produced by Nikon. Impact makes a variety of gear that offers excellent value. Sometimes you are better off with the OEM brand. Sometimes, you simply pay more for essentially the same product that someone is selling for less.

      Buying “Nikon” (or any other OEM) is not a a guarantee of peace of mind, a problem-free experience, or anything else for that matter. Each product from each company should be evaluated on its own merits and the policies for customer service, returns, repairs, etc. should be weighed as well.

      Bob

  16. 32
    ) Ivor

    Hello Bob.
    Where as I do slightly appreciate where you are coming from I do have to ask, is it really worth risking all the money that you have infested into a pro body on an inferior grip.
    Main point being weather sealing. you admit there is a gap between body and grip, therefore water will sit in that gap. When you turn the camera on its side can you be sure that the water will not run up the connector and short out the camera or into the grip and again short out the camera. I know the original price was horrific but is it worth risking a body for $300.00. What advice are you honestly giving. Twenty years ago it was costing only a little less to turn an F4 into a F4E. My F5 which I bought when introduced cost over $3000.00. Cameras have not gone up that much ! Sorry but I have to believe this is like buying a Ferrari and putting on remould tyres. For the most part they will work but when they fail !
    Usually I agree but on this one sorry no I cannot.
    All the best.
    Ivor.

    • Ivor,

      Can a third party battery grip fry a DSLR? Perhaps. I suppose the same can happen with a Nikon or Canon grip as well. As I explained to Jagan above (#34), buying OEM equipment is no guarantee of a problem-free experience. Just consider the fiasco of the D800 focus issues. I love my D800, but Nikon’s handling of this situation was extremely frustrating for many of us. Worse, Nikon never even acknowledged the issue, and in many cases, botched a number of the D800 repairs sending the camera back in the same or worse shape.

      That said, I happen to like Nikon better than the other brands – for now. And all things being equal, I will usually buy Nikon. But there are some lenses and accessories from competitors that are simply better alternatives and/or offered at a much more attractive price. The OEMs are notorious for high mark-ups on some of their accessories. As I said above, paying more doesn’t equal getting more.

      Do you think Nikon lowered the price of their MB-D12 because of altruism or perhaps because people balked at buying it? As more people report positive experiences with the third party battery grips, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the MB-D12 price come down further and settle in at $279 – $299. Why? Because a battery grip, for most of us, is not a critical component, and for as often as we may use them, a decent quality third party item will do the job for much less money. As Nikon loses more sales to the third parties, they will indeed respond to bridge the gap between the MB-D12 price and the competitors.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Bob

  17. 33
    ) Mikael

    I find it funny how people tend to question Bob´s choice buying a 3rd party grip.
    Most of you i think will have the grip on your camera 24/7, and by all means buy the orginal, but Bob already stated that he dont use it like that, and that change most of it if you ask me.

    I have a wild and crazy thought to most of you who go back to the weather sealing “issue”, if you are not 100% sure, take the grip off, my guess is it will take less then 2 minutes to do so.
    Today when its connected via a connector and not the batteryslot, i dont see the point to have it on 24/7 anymore, it adds weight thats not needed unless you shoot handheld in “portrait” , and weather sealing only is usefull when its bad weather, and my guess is that not many of you are shooting in that bad condition. ( and if you do with a tripod, then why use the grip at all?? )
    If you do then buy the Nikon one, you are worth it!

    @Jagan : Did you just compare a 3rd party grip with a 3rd party lenses?
    Well of course the IQ is not the same on 3rd party vs Nikkor lenses, but since when does a battery grip add IQ to a image? :)

    Thank you for your thoughts on the grip Bob, much appreciated!
    Im going for a 3rd party since i only will use it around 20-25% of my time, and with the money i save i rather buy a plane ticket.
    After all i rather go somewhere and photograph something more exotic for the extra money i saved then question someone elses choice online.
    But thats just my 2 cent :) ( english is my 2nd language, so if my grammar disturbs you, to bad for you :)

    Best regards Mikael

    • Mikael,

      Glad you enjoyed the article. I was responding to Ivor regarding the same point – a battery grip is not a critical component for many of us, but rather a nicety. As such, it is not the place to spend our finite photography budgets when Nikon is charging 5X for a variation of the same product. The magnesium shell of the MB-D12 is a nice touch, but Nikon has made polymer-only battery grips for its pro cameras which seem to work fine.

      BTW, your English is better than my Russian, Polish, Italian, and German! :)
      Thanks for weighing in on this one.

      Bob

  18. 37
    ) Kevin Prichard

    I have the MeiKe battery grip, purchased for USD$59.

    It is okay for hand-held vertical portrait control duplication, but it is NOT for use on a tripod.

    The soft plastic construction makes it VERY weak and wobbly for tripod use. There is no metal in the MeiKe battery grip construction, and even when hand-held it is sloppy.

    There is nothing to be gained by using it on tripod, unless you’re shooting DX with the EN-EL18 battery and must have the extra FPS. Even then, use your long lens tripod collar.

    If you must mount with the MeiKe battery grip, use an off-camera shutter release cable or wireless remote. Otherwise you’ll have motion blur.

  19. 38
    ) Spy Black

    I dunno guys, but I just carry an extra Nikon battery in my pocket. First battery about dead? No problem. Swap and keep going. As a matter of fact, I can carry TWO extra Nikon batteries in my pocket if I want. The camera is always as light and handle-able as I am accustom to it being. No extra bulk no extra weight, no potential third-party zaps.

    K.I.S.S. fellas ;-)

  20. 39
    ) Emanuel

    Hi! That’s happening to me with the Zeikos grip in D800. When I turn on my camera with the grip the LCD is not working. Please can you tell me what do I need to do?

    • Emanuel,
      Wish I could help. You might want to reach out to Zeikos’ Customer Support and get their perspective on how to handle it.
      Bob

  21. 41
    ) Mike

    My son gave me the Zeikos grip for my D800 in September. It worked fine until this past weekend when the knurled ring stripped away from the tripod thread shaft, spun freely, and the unit wouldn’t come off the camera. For a little while I thought I’d have to send the whole assembly in for service. I finally got it off by twisting the ring until it got some bite — took me a half hour.

    Oh well, MB-D12 for me.

    • Mike,
      Sorry to hear that. There are always a few lemons in the group – regardless of the product. And it is not only the low-cost products that suffer from quality issues. Just look back at the D800 focus problems and the splattering of oil on the D600 sensors. All things considered, I suspect the Zeikos grip introduction was much less controversial than some of Nikon’s recent major announcements! ;)
      Bob

  22. 43
    ) William

    I ordered a Kaavie Exceptional and Smatree EN-EL 18, but after reading your article and the comments I’ve decided the best advice is to carry a couple spare batteries and replace as needed. I own a Nikon D800 and it doesn’t make sense to me to take the chance of damaging it with aftermarket equipment. I’m returning both items I bought. Wish I had read this article and comments before I bought them. I’ll buy the Nikon battery grip after the price drops again.

    • 50
      ) Charles

      Exactly my thoughts.
      The bottom line is Nikon designed and engineered a vertical grip and the knock-off companies reverse engineered it, creating a copy but have not got it quite right.
      The grip possibly does contain some circuitry for at least de-bouncing switches and managing power.

      Personally at this time I cannot justify the price of the genuine item nor can I afford the risk of using a copy with unknown electronics on my D800e or D600.
      Lenses are much different as they have evolved and have years of engineering behind them.

  23. 44
    ) imran

    Hi sir hope u r doing well sir i have a fake mbd12 for my d800 which is made in china and which is as same as the original mbd12 even its box is same but when i put aa batteries in my tray when i little bit shake my camera a little light in d800 which is near with focus selector that light sometimes blink.Sir what does it means sir plz reply me as soon as possible

    • Imran,
      I wish I could help, but I haven’t experienced that behavior with my Zeikos grip. You might want to do some searches on the net and see if you get any hits.
      Bob

  24. 46
    ) imran

    Ok thanks alot.

  25. 47
    ) imran

    Hi sir hopr u r doing well sir if i would not find zeikos battery grip for my d800 so should i buy the phottix?
    Is zeikos is better than phottix?plz reply bcos i m stuck.thanks.

    • Imran,
      I have read quite a few positive comments regarding the Phottix grip. I haven’t used one, but have used a number of their flash controllers and been happy with them.
      Bob

  26. 49
    ) Alan Maupin

    Potential buyers, please read the reviews on Amazon.com. $300 plus for a Nikon grip might seem expensive compared to the $70 something Zeikos, but the value is not necessarily in the price. Let imagine you owned two D800’s and purchased two grips, one Nikon and Zeikos. A week or so later decided to sell them both. Imagine what the return might be. Imagine what someone might consider the values of each item is. By the way the Ziekos is selling for $40 at the moment on Amazon. The MD-12 is $369 new and $319 used and $282 refurbished. It seems that someone could buy a refurbished unit at $282 and list it for $$310 as used and make a few bucks, and in the meantime enjoy the quality of OEM while they own it. I owned an aftermarket grip unit and batteries for a Nikon D90 once upon a time. I had nothing but trouble from these parts.

    • Alan,
      Occasionally you will come across a bad part, but I didn’t read that in your post regarding the D800 Zeikos units. Did you have an issue with the grips?
      It is important to remember that poor quality, lemons, and bad customer service aren’t the sole domain of the non-name brand parts manufacturers. Just consider how Nikon dealt with the D800 (terrible) and the D600 issue (better but not great). For a year or so, I had quite a few people emailing me with horror stories of Nikon denials, units being shipped back without being fixed, etc. And these two cameras were among Nikon’s most expensive units.
      Defect free quality can be expensive and, in some cases, nearly impossible to accomplish. The issue is not whether every unit shipped is perfect, but rather how companies respond when there is an issue. I recently had an issue with a $7.99 phone charger on Amazon and wrote the company. They had one shipped the next day and sent me a pre-paid shipping label to return the defective unit. No arguments, no fuss. You can bet that if I am looking for a component, and they have one that meets my needs, I will buy it from them. Many that have dealt with D800 & D600 issues could only wish they had such an experience!
      Bob

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