Review

The Sony Vertical battery grip (VG-C1EM) for the full frame Sony A7, A7r, and A7s really helps a lot if you need more battery life, or shoot vertical for extended periods of time. In addition to that, when using larger lenses the battery grip really helps with extra leverage, as you will see in a second with the 70-200mm G Lens 😉 The grip only weighs only ~9 onces so it’s not much extra weight at when compared to the camera and lens weight, although it does increase the size of the camera system substantially. The VG-C1EM goes for ~$298 US and is one of those accessories that is a must have for certain types of photography in my opinion.

The VG-C1EM battery grip holds two regular NP-FW50 batteries, but only uses one at a time starting with the battery that has lowest charge. When the first battery expires, the second battery seamlessly takes over effectively doubling your shooting or recording time!

The batteries plug into the slot load cartridge with the power terminal facing inwards, so both power terminals are in the center of the cartridge when viewing loaded. Note the arrows below:

vg-c1emThe Sony Battery Grip does require you to take the battery door off the camera, but it features a convenient spot to hold the battery door on the part that goes into the actual camera. See below for the photo: That is a great feature and I was worried about losing the door until I saw that honestly!

vg-c1em

Handling and ergonomics are excellent on the battery grip and the build quality is also excellent in my opinion, especially considering how light weight it is. The grooves are deep and contoured in such a weight that my fingers just find a home in both vertical and horizontal positions.

vg-c1emThe screw that tightens the battery grip to the camera has a lot of leverage, so getting the grip cinched tight is much easier than the grip I had on my Canon 5D Mark II for example. Really well done Sony!

The grip features all the buttons you would need, so when in the vertical orientation the transition is seamless for the fingers. The grip does have an extra on/off switch that disables the buttons on the grip, but does not affect the batteries at all. It’s nice if you accidentally are hitting the buttons on the grip in a particular situation for example. A nice feature and very smart to include this as a physical toggle as opposed to a menu item feature for example.

Sony a7 vertical battery grip review


Now, it says on the Sony site you can change a battery without turning the camera off, but I can’t figure out how to do that and the instructions don’t seem to indicate the trick. Somebody on Youtube gave me an excellent DYI trick in the comments section though. Using tape on the outer battery before putting it in and leaving a tail to grab. This will allow you to pull out battery on the outside while the camera is on! Excellent idea and that will totally work 🙂
 

VG-C1EM on the Sony A7r

Here’s the VG-C1EM battery grip mounted to my Sony A7r with the killer full frame e-mount 70-200mm f/4 OSS G lens.

Sony a7 vertical battery grip review

Sony Vertical Battery Grip on the Sony Alpha A7r

Sony Vertical Battery Grip on the Sony Alpha A7r

Sony Vertical Battery Grip on the Sony Alpha A7r

 

Sony Vertical Battery Grip Review

Here’s the video review which is pretty throughout, but I did forget to mention that you can’t charge the batteries while in the grip. That is a negative of this set-up unfortunately. Also, you can change the battery while leaving the camera on if you stick a piece of tape around it before you put it in leaving a tail for pulling later as noted above.

Please be sure to select the HD Quality once the video starts playing for the best viewing experience!

 


 

Closing Remarks

The Sony Vertical battery grip is one of those accessories that is a must have for those using larger lenses and /or shooting vertical a lot. The extra battery capacity is also killer and needed with Alpha A7 series cameras as they only get about 3-400 shots on a single charge. The grip effectively doubles that if you use two fresh NP-FW50 batteries. The slot load design makes it fast and easy to change the batteries and the overall design is excellent in my opinion.

Hitting the wallet at ~$298 US, the battery grip is not exactly cheap, but when you factor in all the benefits it provides, plus the excellent design and build build quality, it’s fair I think, but $250 would be better clearly 😉

I’m giving the Sony VG-C1EM 3.5 out of 5 stars, because as good as I thought it was, it does have some clear issues. You can’t charge the batteries while they are in the grip and if you do not have a stand alone battery charger, the grip will need to be removed in order to charge the battery in the regular camera grip. It’s also been reported on the youtube comments that the battery door may open from time to time, but I did not have that issue myself. The camera does not turn off if that happens, just so you know. It’s also been reported in the comments section that if you have small hands, the magnify zoom feature is not easy to use, because the scroll wheel is to far away. Really only an issue with older fully manual lenses, but worth noting if you use that feature often. Please be sure to check the comments section for more real world user experience reports!

I hope you all got what you were looking for in this review and please have a fantastic day.  Please feel free to ask questions or comment below as always!

Jay

Support links:

Sony Vertical Battery Grip (VG-C1EM for ~$298 US @ BHPhoto (Click Here)

 


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Jay



About the Author

Jay
Hello, I'm the owner and operator of SonyAlphaLab.com. Please check out the About page for a full background on myself and the Lab ;) Google+ | Twitter | RSS-feed | Email Updates!!