Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Phottix Premium Vertical Grip (BP-D200) for Nikon D200



Phottix Premium Vertical Grip
BP-D200

I never really needed a vertical grip. However, if I really needed to 'dress up' my Nikon D200. A vertical grip is to assist the photographer who (1) shoots mainly in portrait by providing a better grip when the camera is orientated for shooting in portrait, (2) providing more power by accomodating another battery instead of one, (3) allowing the use 'AA'-sized batteries. Hence, a vertical grip is otherwise called a 'Multi-Power Battery Pack'. A vertical grip can also help to balance out the weight of heavy lenses such as the Nikkor ED AF 80-200mm f/2.8D.
Nikon has made an official propreitary vertical grip MB-D200 for Nikon D200. The MB-D200 was very popular among D200 users and was constantly out of stock despite its hefty price tag at around S$180. Nevertheless, there are many after-market 'clones' available to substitute the MB-D200 and perform an identical function. I found an inexpensive alternative to the MB-D200 vertical grip for Nikon D200, Premium Series Vertical Grip (BP-D200) by Phottix.
I was initially sold by the uncanny close resembrance of the BP-D200 to MB-D200. Further on, the rave reviews of Phottix products reassured my confidence in their products. The winning ticket is the unbeatably cheaper price! I did not hesitate long to order one online to play with it. The service was good and prompt. The product was shipped out (by air) the same day the payment was made. It took only 3 days to reach my mailbox!


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I cannot wait to unravel the registered package.
The contents include the (1) Phottix BP-D200 Premium Vertical Grip with protective cap, (2) 2 pieces of Phottix Titan EN-EL3e with protective cases, and (3) MS-D200 'AA'-battery cradle.




Phottix Titan EN-EL3e Battery
1600mAh

These Titan EN-EL3e batteries arerated at 1600mAh which is 100mAh higher than Nikon En-EL3e. I have tried other after-market EN-EL3e batteries, and doubted their reliability on my Nikon D200. These Titan EN-EL3e batteries are definitely reliable during first use (when I was shooting a wedding). They do not show erratic capacity status. Along with this pair of Phottix Titan EN-EL3e batteries, I have a total of four pieces of EN-EL3e. More tests needed to validate its capability to retain charge and durability.



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Phottix Premium Vertical Grip
BP-D200
The BP-D200 looks exactly like the official MB-D200 from all angles.
Note that I do not own an MB-D200, nor have I handle one before.





The big rotating dial turns the metallic screw into the tripod mounting socket on the underside of the Nikon D200.
The tip of the BP-D200 is the spring-loaded data contact pins and battery contacts.

The bottom of the BP-D200 is a metal tripod mounting socket, but the socket is not surrounded by a rubber foot. A rubber foot will be more grip when mounted on a tripod head.

On the grip is an identical replica of power switch with shutter release button in the middle and a front command dial.
A sub-command dial and AF-ON button are located on the rear.


From comments on the MB-D200, it had a weak lock on the battery compartment. The BP-D200 also has a weak flimsy plasic door lock on the battery compartment.

Inside the battery compartment is the MS-D200 'AA'-battery cradle.
Two white plastic spring-loaded locks hold the EN-EL3e or MS-D200 in place even when the battery compartment door is open.


The MS-D200 'AA'-battery cradle holds 6 'AA'-sized batteries.

The BP-D200, like the MB-D200, allows either one or two EN-EL3e batteries to be used at any one time.
The Nikon D200 automatically identifies the batteries and display the charge information in the 'Battery Info'.


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Attaching the BP-D200 on Nikon D200


The battery compartment door need to be removed from the body by depressing two small spring-loaded locks.


The grip is attached and secured onto the body by rotating the big dial on the grip.

Nikon D200 + Phottix BP-D200






In the Hands
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The overall experience is good but nothing to brag about. The plastic feels light and nothing compared to the camera body or even the plastic lens. I was still worrying if the plastic might crack when holding the grip only, without supporting the body with a heavy lens. However, I doubt I will ever be able to handle and shoot steadily with one-hand! Surpisingly, despite the use of 'light' plastic for the grip, the hand grip is actually rubberized and provides excellent grip! The command dials one the grip feels plasticy, unlike the solid feel of those on the camera body. The shutter button on the grip lacks a distinct half-press feel, but it functions as good as the one on the body itself. The AF-ON button on the BP-D200 or MB-D200 allows some functions to such as AE-L/AF-L and replicating Fn button, to be programmed.

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Verdict
All in all, I give two thumbs up for the Phottix Titan 1600mAh EN-EL3e batteries. The BP-D200 Premium Vertical Grip is also an excellent and cheap alternative to the MB-D200 but still not comparable to the original product. If you do not use the grip often and just wanted to play around with it, the Phottix BP-D200 Premium Vertical Grip is the best product for you. Otherwise, the BP-D200 is not permanently on my Nikon D200 body, since I am used to and prefer a lighter setup. So is it a waste to get this after-market grip? No! 'Cos it saves me at least 50% if I were to get the original MB-D200 with 2 EN-EL3e batteries.


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5 comments:

Laurens said...

moi wan TFCD!!!

Tony (Aus) said...

hi, just wondering how the phottix EN-EL3e batteries are holding up after a few months?

I just recently purchased a pair myself and am wondering how good they are after a few months of regular use.

WILLIAM TAN said...

they doing good, I am currently in the 3rd cycle of charge.
still holding out well.
however, one has a more recessed contact point, resulting in situations when the camera or charger does not detect a battery.
happened only once though.

Anonymous said...

WILLIAM TAN, I am planning to buy BP-D200 Grip + Batteries (just like you) for my Nikon D200. I would like to see what has your overall experience has turned out to be as to

a) the Grip itself
b) the Batteries

I will really really appreciate candid and fair response.

Anonymous said...

It is certainly interesting for me to read this post. Thank you for it. I like such topics and everything connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.