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A short while ago I reviewed the excellent Sony A700 DSLR camera, in the review I mentioned the cost of the unit itself and the varying cost of the lenses you would need to accompany it, all of which could come close to a couple of grand but that's it then eh? You have the unit and the lenses and you are ready to go?
Well actually no not quite ready yet, there is one last thing you should definitely have with your A700 or any other DSLR for that matter and that is a battery grip, the correct one for the A700 is the Sony VG-C70AM, which I am reviewing today.
A battery grip like the Sony VG-C70AM serves two main purposes and these two purposes means that every type of photographer should have one. The first and most obvious purpose and the main reason for battery grips originally is the fact that the battery grip holds two batteries rather than the one the camera can take, thus allowing you to shoot for longer between charges, great for the outdoor photographer taking landscapes all day with no means to recharge.
So your thinking that it is only outdoor photographers that need such a thing then, well you would be wrong because as a professional portrait photographer, I could not live without mine but not for the extra battery power because I can recharge between shoots no problem. So what is it then that makes a battery grip so useful for me?
Well this is where the second main use for the battery grip comes in and this is now the point that a lot of manufacturers use to sell these rather than the extra power thing. The Sony VG-C70AM comes with a set of controls built into it (as you can see from the Dooyoo picture) and these controls mean that when you hold the camera in portrait style (ie) on its side, you can use the controls on the battery grip which are now in the same place as the cameras controls would be if you were holding the camera in its normal position.
Now this might not seem too important to some but believe me if you are shooting portraits all day, the constant reaching over the top of the camera for the shutter button soon becomes uncomfortable and even seasoned pros like myself usually find ourselves straightening the camera up to change settings before continuing to shoot in portrait. Having these controls in the one place no matter which position you shoot in is a god send.
The Sony VG-C70AM holds two high-capacity NP-FM500H batteries and when connected to the Sony A700 shows an accurate remaining time indication of each battery. So you not only have twice the power but you can still keep an eye on exactly how much power you have left and as you get to know your camera, you will know how many shots you have remaining to the percentage of battery power the camera is showing you so you should never again miss that important shot because of your battery letting you down.
The Sony VG-C70AM is a very robust and well made piece of kit just like the camera you are going to be using it on and also like the camera itself it has a protective sealing to protect against both dust and moisture, these are highly dangerous things to any DSLR and also to battery grips but unbelievably not all manufacturers go to the lengths Sony do to protect against these things.
The battery grip simply fits into the camera via the battery compartment, you remove the cameras battery and plug the battery shaped part of the grip into the battery compartment, this clicks into place with a satisfying click and you know for sure it is secure and you can get on with taking the photos. The battery grip is not all that heavy even with the two batteries in place but it is of course heavy enough to change the feel of the camera so it might take a bit of getting used to but most people find they prefer the feel of the camera with the grip in place, it gives the unit more substance and feels good in the hand.
As with everything photography related, these do not come cheap, the Sony VG-C70AM will set you back around £200 and that does not include the two batteries that fit into it, these will cost you around another £40 each, so almost a £300 layout for something you might not think you need. I know this is the last accessory a lot of people buy for their DSLR`s but after lenses and possibly flashguns it really should be the first.
Although you have to get used to the extra weight and size of the camera when the grip is in place there is no worry about getting used to photographing with it because it is essentially the camera exact same buttons and dials in the same place when the camera is tilted so after a while you will not notice any difference at all using either sets of controls.
You do get aftermarket cheap versions of this battery grip but the build quality and the protection against moisture and dust is gone when you choose them so you really should stick with the Sony branded one at all times, all you save using the cheap ones is about fifty quid and you will probably live to regret the day you bought them, I certainly would not put one of them in my £800 camera and you shouldn't either.
So I hope you have maybe learned something from this review of an excellent piece of kit and I hope the thought that you still need to spend even more money before you have everything you need has not hit you too hard LOL!
Thanks for reading.