I get to test new digital SLRs for Shutterbug magazine but regular readers of this blog know that when it comes to my personal cameras I tend to be thrifty. I get to shoot with these high-end expensive camera but contrary to what many think, after the review they are returned to the manufacturer. All of my personal gear is funded out of my wallet. Over time, I evolved a simply philosophy and even wrote a blog post (“Why I am not an Equipment Snob“) that explains it. I tend to buy new gear when I have a need, not an urge and over the years learned to tell the difference. This really doesn’t affect the kind of images I make. At least I don’t think so.
I also tend to recycle cameras, turning older model SLRs into Infrared-only models, then selling on my previous IR cameras. Last year I replaced my Canon EOS D50 with a D60 because I needed an SLR that would work with lenses designed for smaller chips, had Live View and shot video. My D50 was converted for IR-only capture at LifePixel. I have long been a fan of having battery grips for SLRs and one of the things I learned over the years was the value of third-party battery grips.
Having two batteries instead of one lets me shoot all day without having to recharge a battery or having a battery on charge as a stand-by. At a model shoot in a Phoenix, I shot all day while my colleagues where running back and forth to their chargers to get other batteries.
On a podcast I did last year I was asked how I held a camera for vertical shots and since I shoot lots of glamour and portraits I also shoot lots of verticals. Having a grip that when shooting verticals lets me hold the camera steady instead of the “elbow waving in the air position” and gives me more control over cropping in camera. The other advantage is that in addition to the vertical shutter release there is usually a control wheel to let you change camera functions fast and easy using data displayed in the SLRs viewfinder as a guide.
Some battery grips include a tray that lets you insert 4-6 AA batteries to shoot when you forget the rechargeable batteries or worse the charger. It happened to me. A Third Party grip, such as Flashpoint Professional Camera Grip for the 60D, that I purchased with the camera has additional advantages. I originally bought the official Canon battery grip for my IR-powered Rebel XTi but when I had a used Xt converted using a different kind of filter, I added a third-party grip to it. When comparing the two grips side-by-side, I saw no visible differences—except cost. As I write this, the Flashpoint grip is selling for $49.95, which is almost one-third the price of the original Canon grip. I’ve been actively using the D60 and grip all year and never had a single problem.