Should you use a knockoff camera accessory?

 

Camera manufacturers go out there way to make sure that you can buy their branded accessories for just about every major need you'll have. They sell lenses, batteries, cables, adapters, GPS units, filters, etc. However, these branded accessories usually come at the higher end of the price range and many would argue that the lower cost, 3rd party alternatives are just as good if not better. I tend to agree when it comes to certain things like Nikon compatible GPS units. Every 3rd party one I've tried to date blows away the Nikon branded GP-1. However, I haven't been as pleased with 3rd party lenses. When I first started getting into photography I bought lenses from Tamron and Sigma and while these lenses were good, I later replaced them with with Nikon branded glass that I liked much better. This could start a very long debate and that's not my goal here. If you're happy with your 3rd party glass, rock on! Recently I decided to try a 3rd party battery grip for my Nikon D7000 that was priced so low that I actually bought it more out of curiosity than the need for a battery grip.

 

The MeiKe Multi-Power Battery Pack for the Nikon D7000

I bought my D7000 the day it came out and I always intended it to be my travel camera, but also serve as a backup body for my D700. I have the Nikon battery grip for my D700 and I've always been quite happy with it. I have gone back and forth on getting the Nikon MB-D11 Battery Grip for my D7000, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Not because it's all that expensive, but mainly because I wanted to keep this camera small and light weight for travel. However, after recently having to use it in studio while my D700 was being repaired I realized that I really did miss having a battery grip for taking portraits. I sighed and said "oh well, time to order it and stop putting this off." On my way to order it I did a search to remind myself of the price. Although I primarily buy my photographic gear from B&H, I still like to check prices on Amazon because you never know when they may be having one of their one day sales. While the Nikon branded grip came up for $258.82, (B&H has it for $219.95) I noticed another grip in the search results for only ——- $40.41!!!!!

What? How can this be? How can it be sooooo cheap? It must be crap! Cheaply made, easily breakable, etc. 

I figured for $40 I could take the risk. Worse case I'd get a piece of crap, return it and have a topic to blog about. I ordered it. Meanwhile as I was waiting for it to arrive I saw this clip from F-Stoppers on an apparent scam where this very adapter is also being sold in a Nikon branded box, manual, etc. at full Nikon prices as a complete FAKE/rip off!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LV_rxL3UV-g

Can you imagine paying full price and then later discovering that the item you bought is not authentic and worse yet also being sold for significantly less?

 

The MeiKe Multi-Power Battery Pack Arrived

While I was a little freaked out by the video above, the one thing I took away was that it was so good he really didn't notice that it wasn't the real thing. Mine arrived and it was packaged in a MeiKe box. There was no fake Nikon branding of any kind. I put my extra Nikon D7000 battery in it as well as a set of AA's in the optional tray. Both worked fine. With the Nikon battery in the camera even registered it as a MB-D11 in the menus showing the battery status. While there was no noticeable play in the connection, I can confirm that the dial works in the opposite direction just as the F-Stoppers discovered. Otherwise all the controls seem to work as they should.

 

The Bottom Line

This is one of those cases where I'm going to side with a using a knockoff accessory. I don't plan to use a battery grip on this body full-time. It's also not a mission critical accessory for this body. Actually it's PERFECT for what I wanted. I kinda wanted a battery grip for those times that I need one, but didn't want to pay top dollar for one in this case. Is it as good as the Nikon one? NO. The plastic is of a cheaper grade. The rubber definitely feels different. Functionally it works, but it does feel like a cheaper grade product. You do get what you pay for. This is a no frills battery grip. If your D7000 is your primary camera and you make a living with it, then you should probably get the Nikon one. If you are in need of a grip only on occasion, then it's hard to go wrong with this $40.41 knockoff. As a side note the 43 reviews on Amazon are mostly positive with an average rating of 4 stars. I'm happy with my purchase at the moment. Time will tell.



  • http://twitter.com/BiboJim Jim Nichols

    Thanks for this review, I’ve been going back & forth on a 3rd party battery grip for my Canon EOS 60D.

    Since Amazon has such a great return policy, I’m going to order this one for $38.99
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004IYBN1Y/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=AL7LHK6Q9LVTS

    My only concern is the durability of the tripod mount as I use a BlackRapid camera strap. (www.blackrapid.com)
    Does the mount seem durable?

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      it seems durable looking at it, but it would take time and testing to see if it would really hold up.

      • http://twitter.com/BiboJim Jim Nichols

        I could always do drop test over my bed and give the camera some good tugs with the BlackRapid Strap attached. I had a battery grip for my Canon EOS 300D and really miss having one. The official Canon grip is $169.99 for the 60D!

  • http://Raydshaw.com Ray

    Awesome review, thanks Terry!

  • Joe Aragon

    Ditto for me, Terry. I was searching for the MB-D11 grip & found the MeiKe at such a bargain (compared to the Nikon) that I couldn’t resist. Six months now and no issues with this product.
    What I really would like to find is a good knockoff tripod… I’ve tried several brands now & just can’t find a tripod that performs perfectly. If I’m not fightng vibration & stability, I’m fighting a weak ball or panhead. I was checking out the Manfrottos, but now I want to bite the bullet and go with Really Right Stuff’s Versa series. The sticker shock just keeps me from pulling the trigger…
    Any thoughts or recommendations?

  • ian

    Interesting article, but in the UK the term ‘knockoff’ is often used to describe a stolen item, not a copy.

  • http://imagesbyjw.com Jan Winther

    Great review as usual. I was wondering if a L bracket from RRS would fit the grip. To me it should, the dimensions seems to be the same.

  • Clayton

    Totally agree with this thinking. I picked up a Zeikos grip for my D300 and while the quality was not up to the Nikon OEM grip, it functions flawlessly, and I didn’t need it for full-time use on my camera. It even seemed plenty strong enough to handle by BlackRapid R-Strap.

  • Glenn N

    Hi Terry, I was one of the unlucky ones just like Fstoppers that got dupped. Luckly for me, I used EBAY and Paypal. I would have never known it was a fake, till another unlucky fellow notified me thru Ebay. He stated it was a very good fake yet the real grip is made with the same Magnessium of the camera body. Mine came in a Nikon brandon box, the pouch the extra pack goes in, etc. I did notice that it was made of plastic yet I thought that was for weight. Anyway, I notified Ebay and paypal and they refunded my money entirely and got to keep the product. If I find myself shooting with it more and more, I probably will invest in the true Nikon grip, but for right now, Im spending money on lenses. Have ny eye on the 24-7- f2.8.

    Thx, Glenn

    P.S. Keep up the good work, I look at both of your sites daily.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/sundseth/ Doug Sundseth

    This is exactly the information I’ve been looking for, from a source that I trust more than “Random J. Amazoncommenter”. Thank you for jumping on what turned out not to be a grenade.

    8-)

  • HenryH

    Interesting article. From an ethical perspective, I would wonder what role the manufacturer had in putting the fake “Nikon” grips out there. By buying the cheap version are you still supporting the crooks?

    • http://terrywhite.com Terry White

      Unless we could know/prove that they played a role in it, you’d have no way of knowing for sure. Wouldn’t be too hard for anyone outside of the manufacturer to buy these and rebox them as fakes.

  • http://rovettiphoto.com Steve

    Good video/post!

    I have always kind of felt like Nikon’s pricing on their Battery Grips was a bit high. My main concern with off brand battery grips is how they actually do with power management. Is the battery grip not going to be able to regulate power correctly and fry my camera? Does anyone know if that’s an unfounded concern?

    I’m interested to see what happens down the road with that grip, as the D7000 is in my very near future, and the battery grip is something I really want… if I can save some coin, more the better!

  • http://jacklarson.aminus3.com/ Jack Larson

    I have tried 2 different knock-off battery packs for my D700. Both have failed.

  • http://rickpotts.com Rick Potts

    @ Jan – I bought a 3rd party grip for my D300s, which was also considerably cheaper. I have been very happy with it. The only problem is that neither the Kirk or the Really Right Stuff L-bracket works with it, at least you cannot remove the battery compartment with the bracket attached. It is ever so slight, but it doesn’t clear. I was shocked at this since they look so similar.

  • http://www.templehillphotography.com Temple Hill

    I bought a knock off battery grip for my Canon 20d and 50d (fits both) and can report without hesitation that it was the best $60.00 investment I have made. Zeikos is the brand and they make them for Nikon side. Friend of mine who is my second shooter for weddings is Nikon shooter and she purchased for hers after I got mine, and she loves it. Never had any negative issues with it! Glad to see you had a good experience with it Terry, you might want to let Larry (Cheap Shot’s ) Becker know.

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  • http://www.ice-imaging.com kevin Halliburton

    WARNING: If you plan to use an aftermarket grip with a tripod, monopod or camera strap that uses the threaded mount take the mounting plate off of your battery grip, where it attaches to the camera, and be sure you aren’t hanging a few thousand dollars worth of gear off of a single tiny plastic gear that has been super glued to a threaded metal stud.

    The knock off grip I bought for my D700 ended up breaking loose from the camera. When I pulled it apart I discovered that the threaded metal stud that screws into the bottom of the camera had a tiny plastic gear head that was the only thing holding the grip to the camera. Once that gear broke the stud pulled straight out and my camera lens and flash hit the ground. I also discovered that even if the gear hadn’t broken the hand full of tiny screws holding the plate on were threaded straight into plastic. My $50 grip was clearly not designed to support much weight, not even hand held.

  • http://markemeryphotography.com/ Mark Emery

    I too use a 3rd party grip, mine came from hähnel. The stud broke from the gear a couple of weekends ago, luckily I spotted a large gap between camera base and grip before the camera could come away fully and fall to the ground. The weight was being held by the friction between the grips neck and battery compartment and the fact that the camera weight wasn’t pulling in the right direction. My issue is likely to be a stress fracture in the plastic gear from lots of use – my camera hangs from a Black Rapid RStrap. I’ve been in touch with hähnel, they were most helpful. In the medium term they could produce a different metal stud with a flange that prevents it coming through the base. Such a flange would hopefully also prevent the stress fractures as the weight would be off the gear. I’ll be sending mine off this weekend for repair. Having had my camera crash to the ground due to the early RStrap clip design, now replaced with a locking clip that can never be accidentally undone, I know that manufacturers are willing to listen and adapt their products. As end users we need to take the time to ensure they get the right feedback.

  • Harry

    Hi there, I am interested in this Battery Grip MB-D11, but I was wondering which company makes this battery grip?

    Also, I heard many battery grips have the dials reversed, is it true for this grip (possibly the version you bought)

    Thanks!

  • https://iStockOnline.com iStockOnline

    So true. Judge products by their quality (via reviews) and not by the name written on the side.