Battery Grip for the Canon 5D Mark III

Canon 5D Mark III Battery Grip Study


Canon 5D Mark III Battery Grip Analysis

(Last updated: 11/18/2013)

The purpose of this study is to perform a hands on comparison of battery grips designed for the Canon 5D Mark III.  The motivation for this study is lack of reviews containing more than one Battery Grip.  Included in this study is every 5D Mark III battery grip sold by Adorama:

  1. The Canon BG-E11 Battery Grip for 5D Mark III Camera
  2. The Vello BG-C9 Battery Grip for 5D Mark III Camera
  3. The Flashpoint BGe11 Battery Grip for 5D Mark III Camera
  4. The Vivitar PG-5DMIII Power Grip for 5D Mark III Camera

Methodology:

Each battery grip was evaluated and compared against the following criteria:

  • Ease of installation:  Out of the box, how does installing the battery grip compare to the difficulty of installing the Canon BG-E11?
  • Weight:  Just to make sure there was a difference we weighed the grips without battery drawers.  What do you know?  They actually were different.
  • Look:  How does the battery grip look attached to the Canon 5D Mark III compared to the Canon BG-E11?
  • Feel:  How does the battery grip feel attached to the Canon 5D Mark III compared to the Canon BG-E11?
  • Functionality:  Button functions.  Whats missing?  What works?  What doesn’t work?
  • Water Resistance:  For this test we intended to submerge each grip in water covering the buttons, on/off switch and battery door.  The battery compartment would be filled with tissue paper to detect leakage.  After an initial dunk we would inspect for water intrusion.  We would then submerge each grip for 10 seconds and check for water intrusion.
  • Durability:  How well does it hold up in the field under wet/dry conditions, cold, heat, sweat?  How well does it handle supporting the weight of the camera and lens on a tripod with wind?  Vertically? Horizontally?
  • Usability:  Overall impressions on usability to include comparisons with the other grips.

Canon BG-E11 Review

Canon BG-E11 mounted with L bracket Closeup

Canon BG-E11 mounted with L bracket Closeup

Canon BG-E11 mounted with L bracket Closeup

Canon BG-E11 mounted with L bracket Closeup

Canon BG-E11 mounted with L bracket Closeup

Canon BG-E11 mounted with L bracket Closeup

  • Ease of installation:  Easy/Self explanatory.
  • Weight:  11.1 ounces without the battery drawer.
  • Look:  Excellent.
  • Feel:  Excellent.  The shutter button has the same feel as the camera.
  • Functionality:  Excellent.  Nothing is missing.  Everything works.
  • Water Resistance:  For this test we submerged the BG-E11 in water covering the buttons, on/off switch and battery door.  The battery compartment was filled with tissue paper to detect leakage.  After an initial dunk and a quick dry the only water intrusion was slight through the battery door.  We then submerged the grip for 10 seconds.  The leakage was more severe with water intrusion from possibly the on/off switch.  The test was not conducted on the rest of the grips since we consider that the BG-E11 failed the test.  None of these grips are designed to be submerged.
  • Durability:  We have used the Canon BG-E11 in Florida heat and humidity.  We have used the BG-E11 in bitter cold on the finger lakes in New York and Great Lakes in Canada at the end of December 2012.  We have used this grip on Beaches in Florida and San Diego with wind driven sand and salt water spray.  We have used this grip hiking the Rheingau and climbing in Yosemite.  We have used this grip mounted on a tripod supporting the weight of the 5D Mark III and an EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Zoom Lens both Horizontally and vertically for extended periods of time with wind.  The durability of the BG-E11 appears to be a match for the  5D Mark III.
  • Usability:  We recommend an L bracket such as the Kirk BL-5D3G L-Bracket for Canon 5D Mark III With BG-E11 Battery Grip for tripod use.
  • Country of Origin:  Japan
  • Cost: Valid as of 09/13/2013
    • $275.00 from adorama.com (Disclosure:  clicking this link to get to adorama.com, and buying something, helps fund this site. Thanks!)
    • $416.50 from Canon.com.

Vello BG-C9 Review

Because the Vello is the only one of the 4 grips that does not look the same on the camera as the Canon BG-E11 we felt some pictures verifying the look and feel are just as clean as the rest were necessary.

Vello BG-C3 Battery Grip for Canon 5D Mark III

Vello BG-C9 Battery Grip attached to the Canon 5D Mark III during testing.

Vello BG-C3 Battery Grip for Canon 5D Mark III

Vello BG-C9 Battery Grip attached to the Canon 5D Mark III during testing.

Vello BG-C3 Battery Grip for Canon 5D Mark III

Vello BG-C9 Battery Grip attached to the Canon 5D Mark III during testing.  Note the location of the on/off switch.

  • Ease of installation:  Easy/Self explanatory.
  • Weight:  9.9 ounces without the battery drawer.
  • Look:  Excellent.  Note that the Vello BG-C9 does not look exactly like the Canon BG-E11 although the fit and finish and tie-in to the camera appears just as nice.  The most significant difference is the placement of the on/off switch on the back of the grip rather than the side.  We determine this placement to be satisfactory, with no ill affect on usability.  Another difference is that this grip is slightly wider than the Canon so the Kirk BL-5D3G L-Bracket will not work with this grip.  As you can see from the photos the grain of the Vello grip matches the grain of the camera more closely than any of the other 3rd party grips.
  • Feel:  Excellent.  The Vello BG-C9 actually had the “grabbiest” rubber of all battery grips tested.  There is a difference in the use of the on/off switch since it is in a different location.  The feel of the shutter button is different than the camera.  Only the Canon BG-E11 had a shutter button with the same feel as the Canon 5D Mark III.  The Vello BG-C9 seems lighter than the Canon BG-E11.
  • Functionality:  Excellent.  Nothing is missing.  Everything works.
  • Water Resistance:  Not tested.  The Canon BG-E11 failed so there is no reason to continue.
  • Durability:  Testing not complete.
  • Usability:  The Kirk BL-5D3G L-Bracket for Canon 5D Mark III With BG-E11 Battery Grip does not work on this battery grip.  Vello does not sell an L bracket for this grip on their site.
  • Country of Origin:  China
  • Cost: Valid as of 09/13/2013  $130.00 from vellogear.com
  • Issues:  No L bracket.

Flashpoint BGe11 Review

The Flashpoint BGe11 appears to be the same device as the Vivitar PG-5DMIII, so much so that the battery drawers are interchangeable.  The biggest issue we have with this grip is that the picture on line is not the same grip.  Additionally, the photo on the box is not this grip, although the drawings in the instructions is of this grip.  You would want to ensure you get the grip tested here, not the one pictured on line.

  • Ease of installation:  Easy/Self explanatory.
  • Weight:  9.3 ounces without the battery drawer.
  • Look:  Excellent.  Note that the Flashpoint BGe11 looks exactly like the Canon BG-E11.  The size and placement of buttons, switches and dials are exactly the same as the Canon BG-E11, so much so that it would be very difficult to tell the difference between the Flashpoint BGe11 and the Canon BG-E11 mounted to the camera.  The only minor difference is the placement of the strap holder on the bottom of the grip, Canon has its strap holder centered on the grip while Vivitar and Flashpoint have their strap holder located slightly to the rear of the grip.  The only other difference is that Canon places the Serial Number on the bottom of the grip while the bottom of the flashpoint grip is bare.  The Kirk BL-5D3G L-Bracket works fine with this battery grip.
  • Feel:  Excellent.  The feel of the shutter button is different than the camera.  Only the Canon BG-E11 had a shutter button with the same feel as the Canon 5D Mark III.  The Flashpoint BGe11 seems lighter than the Canon BG-E11.
  • Functionality:  Excellent.  Nothing is missing.  Everything works.
  • Water Resistance:  Not tested.  The Canon BG-E11 failed so there is not reason to continue.
  • Durability:  Testing not complete.
  • Usability:   We recommend an L bracket such as the Kirk BL-5D3G L-Bracket for Canon 5D Mark III With BG-E11 Battery Grip for tripod use.
  • Country of Origin:  China
  • Cost: Valid as of 08/09/2013  $66.95 from adorama.com  (Disclosure:  clicking this link to get to adorama.com, and buying something, helps fund this site. Thanks!)  This is the least expensive battery grip for the Canon 5D Mark III.
  • Issues:  The picture on the site is not the battery grip tested.  The pictured grip has a an on/off dial while the tested grip has a slide switch just as the Canon grip does.

Vivitar PG-5DMIII Review

The Vivitar PG-5DMIII appears to be the same device as the Flashpoint BGe11, so much so that the battery drawers are interchangeable.  It is satisfying to note that the Vivitar image on line as well as on the box and in the instructions are all of this grip.

  • Ease of installation:  Easy/Self explanatory.
  • Weight:  9.1 ounces without the battery drawer.  The lightest of the group, but not by much.  Certainly not enough to make a difference carrying it.
  • Look:  Excellent.  Note that the Vivitar PG-5DMIII looks exactly like the Canon BG-E11.  The size and placement of buttons, switches and dials are exactly the same as the Canon BG-E11, so much so that the only way to tell the difference between the Vivitar PG-5DMIII and the Canon BG-E11 while mounted to the camera is the Vivitar brand on the bottom of the grip.  Canon and Vello put their brand on the top of the grip to be hidden by the camera while Flashpoint brands their grip on the battery compartment arm.  The only other minor difference is the placement of the strap holder on the bottom of the grip, Canon has its strap holder centered on the grip while Vivitar and Flashpoint have their strap holder located slightly to the rear of the grip.  The Kirk BL-5D3G L-Bracket works fine with this battery grip.
  • Feel:  Excellent.  The feel of the shutter button is different than the camera.  Only the Canon BG-E11 had a shutter button with the same feel as the Canon 5D Mark III.  The Vivitar PG-5DMIII seems lighter than the Canon BG-E11.
  • Functionality:  Excellent.  Nothing is missing.  Everything works.
  • Water Resistance:  Not tested.  The Canon BG-E11 failed so there is not reason to continue.
  • Durability:  Testing not complete.
  • Usability:   We recommend an L bracket such as the Kirk BL-5D3G L-Bracket for Canon 5D Mark III With BG-E11 Battery Grip for tripod use.
  • Country of Origin:  China
  • Cost: Valid as of 09/13/2013  $59.99 from Adorama.com (Disclosure:  clicking this link to get to adorama.com, and buying something, helps fund this site. Thanks!)  This is now, since Adorama started carrying it, the least expensive battery grip for the Canon 5D Mark III.

 Battery Grip Comparison:

We believe a large part of the decision on which grip to purchase comes down to how good it looks so here they are side by side.  See if you can distinguish any differences:

From left to right: Canon, Vivitar, Flashpoint and Vello grip bottoms.

From left to right: Canon, Vivitar, Flashpoint and Vello grip bottoms. Note the strap bracket on the Canon is centered.  Also note that only the Vivitar branding is visible when mounted on the camera although Canon has a SN visible.

From left to right: Canon, Vivitar, Flashpoint and Vello from battery drawer.

From left to right: Canon, Vivitar, Flashpoint and Vello from battery drawer. Note that Canon and Vello brand in the same place while Flashpoint brands on the battery compartment arm.

From left to right: Canon, Vivitar, Flashpoint and Vello

From left to right: Canon, Vivitar, Flashpoint and Vello.  In case it is not clear, the three on the left are almost indistinguishable by button knob and dial placement.  The Vello is slightly different.

From left to right: Canon, Vivitar, Flashpoint and Vello from the front

From left to right: Canon, Vivitar, Flashpoint and Vello from the front.

Battery Grips Back

From left to right: Canon, Vivitar, Flashpoint and Vello. From the back you can see where Vello places its on/off switch.

Battery Grips Bottoms Up

From left to right: Canon, Vivitar, Flashpoint and Vello. Note that the Canon battery drawer is made of a duller plastic than the rest.

From left to right: Canon, Vivitar, Flashpoint and Vello with battery grips flipped over for inspection.

From left to right: Canon, Vivitar, Flashpoint and Vello with battery grips flipped over for inspection.  Again note that the third party battery drawers are more reflective than the Canon.

Canon 5D MarkIII Battery Grip Comparison:

Installation Looks Feel Functionality Durability  Usability Country of Origin Cost
Canon BG-E11 Easy Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent Japan $275.00
Vello BG-C9 Easy Excellent Excellent Excellent TBD No L Bracket China $99.95
Flashpoint BGe11 Easy Excellent Excellent Excellent TBD Excellent China $66.95
Vivitar PG-5DMIII Easy Excellent Excellent Excellent TBD Excellent China $59.99

Save yourself some bucks and go get the Vivitar PG-5DMIII.  If proven durability and the buttons, dials and switches having the exact same feel as the camera is important to you then you have just talked yourself into paying 3 and half times as much.  Go get the Canon BG-E11.  (Disclosure:  clicking either link in this paragraph to get to adorama.com, and buying something, helps fund this site. Thanks!)

 

20 thoughts on “Canon 5D Mark III Battery Grip Study

  1. Darcy

    As a relatively new user of the 5D3 I appreciate seeing a nice detailed review of the grips. The comment about the battery life of the third party grip is a bit concerning though. Thanks for the reviews and the contest!

    Reply
  2. Jim Willittes

    Excellent review! I have a friend with the 5DM3 and one of the aftermarket grips (sorry, not sure which) and he swears that it eats 2 batteries in the same amount of shooting time that he was getting with a single battery (and no grip) – he claims that the Canon grip has extra circuity where it only feeds the camera what it needs and therefore gets 2x battery life (since it has 2x the batteries).. If possible, can you run the camera under normal use with each grip and find out if the Canon grip indeed gets more shots from the 2 batteries than the others?? Thanks (and actually I’m just trying to justify my own purchase of the Canon grip so I feel better :)

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Jim,
      I will look into it. I usually keep my camera on all day with no battery problems. I wonder if the issue you refer to occurs when the battery grip is turned on. That is a valid test. I only turn my battery grip on when using it in vertical/portrait mode. I have not noticed the issue, but I should tell you that my co-photographer also carries a 5D MarkIII (always with a different lens), but refuses to use a battery grip because of size and weight. She claims there is no advantage to having a battery grip. I like to point out that people who have never had a cell phone don’t see the need for a cell phone. Sometimes you just have to use something to realize how bad you really need/want it. Of course, I am over 200 lbs of twisted steel and sex appeal while my co-photographer, also nothing but twisted steel and sex appeal to be sure, but may only be half my weight.
      Thanks,
      Mike

      Reply
    2. admin Post author

      Jim,
      One other note, if you have the money, you can’t go wrong with the Canon grip. The battery grip/automatic winder for my Canon A-1 is still functioning and it is over 35 years old.
      Thanks,
      Mike

      Reply
  3. KirkReed

    Thanks for doing this review. Normally we have to either take a chance (not much risk at these low prices) or pay $$$ for Canon.

    Would love to get a grip. Thanks

    Reply
  4. Ben

    I got the vivitar grip. Everything worked as you indicated. However, the multi-controller knob fell off after a couple of uses. I decided to return it and get the Canon grip.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Ben,
      Thanks for adding your experience with the Vivitar grip to the blog. Sorry you had an unsatisfactory experience with it, but your comments will help others. We were thinking of taking the grips apart to check out the inner workings, rather than just record the weight differences, but figured that would ruin some perfectly good grips and yield little information. We know Canon provides some outstanding equipment (I still have my A-1), implements a level of quality control beyond the 3rd party providers, and adds a cost premium on top of that. Would love to pick up 100 of each and publish defect rates, but time and cost get in the way. Once again, thank you very much for sharing your experience.
      Mike

      Reply
  5. Paul Feng

    Hi again! Just in case my comment above isn’t considered an entry into the giveaway, please consider this one to be it. My order of preference is Vivitar, Flashpoint, then Vello. Thanks again for the review, and the giveaway. Fun!

    Reply
  6. Kathy

    Thank You so much for the detailed review of these grips, it is exactly what I was looking for! Since my birthday is 4/19, winning one of the grips in your contest this month would be a fantastic birthday gift! :-) .

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Kathy,
      You have a good chance considering how few people actually leave comments. Many subscribe, few comment.
      Thanks,
      Mike

      Reply
      1. Kathy

        While waiting for results of the contest, I’m planning to purchase the Vivitar for my 7D. I typically order from B&H but don’t mind using Adorama to give you credit for your hard work. Will it work if I use one of the links provided and then find the correct grip, or do you need to send a new link?

        Reply
        1. admin Post author

          Kathy,
          Thank-you so much of the sentiment, but don’t worry, run with whichever you prefer. We use B&H and Adorama interchangeably. We have even used Amazon on occasion, particularly when also ordering stuff not photography related. You may notice either B&H and/or Adorama always beat everyone else on price. I didn’t look at the 7D battery grips, I’d be curious to hear what you think about the Vivitar. It looks like only Adorama is carrying the grip at the moment: http://adorama.evyy.net/c/69193/51926/1036?u=http%3A%2F%2Fadorama.com%2FVVPG7D.html
          Thanks,
          Mike

          Reply
  7. Pingback: Battery Grip Contest | pietrzyk.us

  8. Jack

    out of all the third party grips which one has the closest “button pressing” feel that closely mimics the buttons on the Canon grip? Shutter, asterisk, focus point etc, all of them…

    Reply
  9. Amol

    Awesome comparison and write up. Pretty detailed. Guys like me would appreciate it.
    I am looking for a grip with which I can use a L bracket. An L bracket that allows access to all the functionalities of the camera. And to ports on the sides. Including the external flash battery pack, mice etc.

    Ay suggestions?

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Amol, Thank-you for the comments. Because of your comment we have decided to do a review of L-Brackets with and without Battery Grips. We will just have to wait until it gets prioritized. Until then please note that the Kirk BL-5D3G, mentioned in the post, provides full access to all switches, sockets and the battery drawer. It is designed to be used on an Arca-Type Quick Release System vertically and horizontally. Follow this link to Adorama.com for the bracket to be used without the Battery Grip, Kirk BL-5D3, and this link for the bracket to be used with the Battery Grip, Kirk BL-5D3G. Note that the Canon BG-E11, Flashpoint BGe11 and Vivitar PG-5DMIII all work with the Kirk BL-5D3G. One other item, Adorama is just now carrying the Hahnel HC-5D MK III Pro Battery Grip for Canon EOS 5D MK III. We will try to get that reviewed and in the post as soon as possible. (In the interest of full disclosure: Following the links to Adorama.com provided above will support this site.)

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Jack Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>