Nikon MB-D12 Multi Power Battery Pack

This time it's an accessory, the Nikon MB-D12 multi power battery pack with vertical grip!

With three options for extending battery life and an increase in frames per second (in crop mode), plus a convenient vertical grip, is this camera accessory worthwhile?  Let's see how it does and doesn't work with in my workflow.

 
 

Single Sentence Summary

Too little value for full-frame shooters on a budget.

Why I bought it

I shoot events where I take thousands of photos, I don't want to have to fumble around with swapping out batteries.  When a bride is walking down an aisle, or having her first dance, I need to be ready.  Also, for the instances where I'm shooting a shot in portrait rather than landscape orientation, this allows me to hold the camera in a much more natural way.

What I Like

Firstly the ability to use my D4S' batteries is a fantastic feature.  Though I tend to avoid using my D4S for weddings, I use it more for corporate and other high-speed events like sports, I do like having the option to interchange batteries.  It makes preparation much easier knowing that if one battery goes down I can simply swap from another camera.

I like knowing that because it's a Nikon grip that I'm less likely to have any issues.  I've looked into a number of the off-brand vertical grips, and while a number of them have more features, I'm reassured by the fact that I know these should never have compatibility issues.  Not to mention that the build quality is absolutely solid.  I'd be a bit nervous at the idea of trusting an expensive camera like a D810, not to mention an expensive lens, to a cheaper aftermarket grip;  When one of these is screwed into a D810 or a D800 then it feels just as sturdy and offers the same tactile sensation as the rest of the body.  The OCD part of me shudders at the idea of feeling a different type of texture when I'm shifting to shoot in portrait orientation.

What I Don't

Firstly, why doesn't this offer Bluetooth, GPS or WiFi?!?  It's absolutely ridiculous.  They could easily have built in some more features into the grip, especially given my second gripe: THE PRICE!!!  Man is this thing WAY overpriced.  How in the world they can justify robbing their customers blind is beyond me.  Come on Nikon, Canon holds a bigger chunk of the market ($40 Billion for Canon to $6 Billion for Nikon), make some tactical decisions to reward (if not retain) your customers.  It's ridiculous.

Next, I have to ask, why do I need to have a new battery grip for every camera I buy?  It's capable of using D4 batteries, it shares the same wattage and amperage requirements of so many other Nikon cameras, why aren't these accessories made to reward customers for their loyalty?  Grips and batteries should be more universal to their own brand.  This ties directly back into the whole, "tactical decisions," thing I mentioned earlier.

Their biggest selling point to me is the increased frames per second, but what a letdown, it only increases frames per second when you're shooting in DX (crop) mode.  I never shoot in crop mode.  I've never needed to, and to be quite honest I have never even looked through the menus to find out where and how to do it.  It's not that I have an issue with the fact that it doesn't reward its FX (full-frame) mode shooters, it's rather that they really play that feature as a selling point for the accessory, and it doesn't benefit the average user.

Speaking of extra functionality, why are your competitors offering more features for less price in their knock-off battery grips?  It's sad how inept it makes Nikon look when for half the price you can do the same thing and WAY more by going to off-brands.

Why is there still a slight gap between the grips and the camera body when it's attached?  I wish they'd made it really snug up to the body so that it almost seals entirely.  Then again perhaps it's a preventative measure, as previously when I owned a Canon 5D Mark II with a BG-E6 I once had one get entirely stuck to the body, and I even sold it with the grip seemingly permanently fastened to it.

Needing to remove the grip to change the battery in the camera body itself is a poor design.  I can't help but feel like there must have been a better way to facilitate this.  Even the BG-E6 I referred to in the last point had two batteries in the grip and none in the body, this made swapping batteries a breeze!  So dumb for Nikon to not recognize how this could function better for most users.

Finally, and possibly most importantly, there's the weight.  With a D4S battery loaded through the BL-5 adapter, this thing is pretty dang heavy.  Like D4S heavy almost.  I can't help but wonder why someone who would buy a D810 and an MB-D12 with the BL-5 and some EN-EL18 batteries wouldn't just buy a D4S.  Sure, I get how there's a massive price jump, but in simply buying the MB-D12 itself I can't help but think that you're probably allergic to saving money to begin with.

Bottom Line

If I hadn't found both of mine on Kijiji I would NEVER have bought the brand name ones.  Some of the off-brand models even have better features at WAY lower prices.  I don't know what Nikon was thinking, but I seriously doubt they were thinking at all.

Score

3/10

Clearly I'm not sponsored by Nikon.  This reflects only my personal opinion, take it as you will. :)

 
 

-Wes.