Does Your DSLR Need a Vertical Grip?

vertical grip

If you want more shots per battery swap and shoot a fair amount of portrait orientation shots, a vertical grip might extend the utility of your dSLR.


If you aren’t familiar with vertical grips in general, they basically add two key advantages to a dSLR:

  1. Capacity for a second battery, thus doubling the number of shots (or video capture minutes) required before a battery changeout.
  2. A second set of control buttons (shutter release, exposure lock, control wheel thingie, and AF start) situated so that when you hold the camera vertically in portrait orientation, you have the same controls as landscape but without having to strain your wrist.

Both of these are very useful in everyday shooting; you don’t need to be a pro to get some real use out of a vertical grip.

And for some camera bodies, the added weight and height help balance out the feel. This is very subjective and will vary from camera to camera and photographer to photographer. But I find a vertical grip really fills out the smaller entry-level camera bodies and makes the more useable for people with larger hands. It can also help balance the weight distribution when a heavy lens is mounted on a lighter body.

vertical gripIt Looks Totally Cool

A third sort of advantage, of we’re all being honest, is that a vertical grip makes your regular dSLR look more like the bad-ass pro models from Canon and Nikon. It makes the camera taller, heavier, and just overall more impressive and imposing looking.


As noted, a vertical grip will add both weight and size to a camera body. In some situations, this may not be desirable (a hiking/camping trip, for example, when every ounce counts). Additionally, the change in size may make the body too large to fit into existing cases, bags, or other storage containers.

Practical Examples

The Vello BG-CE vertical grip is a really good value for the budget-minded Canon 6D owner. It’s sturdy, well-made, and in almost every way is virtually indistinguishable from Canon’s comparable accessory (the $169 BG-E13). It fits the camera perfectly, looks very high quality, and functions extremely well. The main downside to the Vello is that it’s not weather-sealed like the Canon.

If you have a Canon 60D (a very nice camera that is a few versions old now and currently a very good value), there are quite a few options, including this one made by Neewer. At under $30, it’s value is quite high. However, I found that it doesn’t perfectly mate with the body. It’s a cosmetic flaw, but one that some people find unacceptable.