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03-06-2010, 02:02 PM   #1
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My K-7 Is Now Complete (D-BG4 Battery Grip Review)

It only took me 4 months, but I FINALLY saved up enough money to buy a battery grip for my K-7. A recent incident prompted me to hurry up my savings; a few days ago, we finally got a single gorgeous day amidst lots of ugly days, so I took out my bike and went for a ride. 6 shots into the session, the #$%#&!@ proprietary battery died because I ONCE AGAIN forgot to charge it. At that moment, I vowed that I'd get a battery grip and never suffer the same fate again. My shooting session was ruined at this point, and I was too bitter to continue riding, so I just went home. I put the battery in its charger (almost forgot again) and waited the interminable 6 hours... by which time the sun was gone. Meanwhile, I re-arranged our budget so that a battery grip would be possible sooner.

I briefly considered buying one of the many clones available on eBay. I've read lots of positive reviews about them, and they're really affordable. But the lack of weather resistance was a deal breaker for me. I've been taking my camera into some crazy conditions since I got it, and I don't much like the idea of having water seep into the battery compartment and short something out. With this in mind, a genuine Pentax grip was the only option, and that meant saving for a little while longer.

I received my new battery grip from Amazon yesterday (I even saved enough money for 2-day shipping). At 270 grams without batteries, it already adds over half a pound to my camera's weight. This is unfortunate since I always try and minimize the weight I carry when I'm biking. After I added 6 Sanyo Eneloop batteries, the weight climbed up to 425 grams, which is almost a full pound! Considering this, I'll probably want to remove one of the lenses from my bag to compensate. When you're mountain biking on rough trails, every gram counts. I already thought my bag was heavy enough...

Attaching the grip to the camera was simple as can be. I especially appreciate the built-in compartments for the contact covers, which makes it less likely that I'll lose those. The weather-sealing around those contacts is also a nice touch. It's unfortunate that they weren't able to add an SD card holder in the AA tray, especially since there's one in the alternate tray, but I guess 6 batteries takes up a lot of space. For some reason, I was under the impression that the battery grip should have a place to store the Pentax Remote F, but it does not.

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The grip and the batteries I used. Note the compartment to store the contact caps from the grip and battery, over on the left side.

When looking at battery grips for other cameras, I noticed many of them have a massive "pole" that goes into the camera, presumably into the battery compartment. I like the fact that this battery grip doesn't have that. This makes it easier to store in my camera bag when it's off the camera.

My first impression when the grip was attached to the camera: my K-7 is finally complete. It's like my camera was always missing a part of itself, and now it's whole. My right pinky finger falls naturally into its groove in the grip instead of curling back into the palm of my hand. Everything feels much more stable. There's noticeably less camera shake when hand-holding. The whole thing feels like a stable hunk of quality.

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I love the ergonomics of the camera with the grip attached

My second impression: my camera weighs a lot more than it used to. My camera with D-LI90, memory card and neck strap (but no lens) just went from 825 grams to 1250 grams! That's still lighter than many other cameras out there, but it's a big difference for the K-7. Luckily, my Op/Tech USA neck strap prevents my neck from feeling over-burdened, and it hasn't affected the portability of the camera. I just went on a 3 hour-long shooting session yesterday using many different lenses, and my neck never got sore.

Another nice benefit; larger lenses are better balanced with this setup. When I had the DA* 50-135mm on there, it felt perfectly balanced and proportioned. Granted, the DA*50-135mm is well balanced on the K-7 even without the battery grip present, but even more so with a battery grip. Also, when the whole camera assembly is hanging from my neck with the DA* 50-135mm, the lens stays pointed forward instead of drooping down. This prevents accidental impacts on the handlebars when I'm walking my bike, especially when the hood is mounted pointed forward.

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The DA* 50-135mm looks far less overwhelming when the grip is present

The added controls on the grip are a nice bonus. It's great to have all those commonly-used buttons and dials at my fingertips when using the camera in portrait mode. Also, the camera assembly is perfectly shaped so it feels exactly the same regardless of its orientation. My fingers fall naturally into their respective grooves and everything is very comfortable. I do have one issue with the controls though: the front e-dial feels exactly like the one on the camera, but the rear one is recessed a bit. This is probably on purpose to avoid turning it by accident when we change orientation, but it makes it a bit harder to use.

One major gripe I have is with the new location for the tripod mount. It's no longer in line with the lens focal point, but off towards the right instead. I don't particularly care about the lens focal point itself, but by placing the tripod mount this way, the camera assembly is now even more unbalanced on my light travel tripod, especially when I have a heavy lens mounted. Using a large telephoto lens is exactly when I'd be more likely to need a tripod in the first place. I don't understand why it was necessary to do this. The whole camera assembly with a DA* 50-135mm weighs almost exactly 2 KG (4.4 pounds), which is the exact limit of my travel tripod. But since it's now a heavily unbalanced weight, this makes the tripod less stable than I'd like. As a result, my travel tripod has been relegated to low-angle use, close to the ground and with legs splayed wide. Or, I can remove the battery grip before using my travel tripod, but this involves unscrewing the battery grip and then screwing on the tripod mount, and then the reverse for when I want to put the battery grip back on. It's a pain. I almost wish I could put a tripod mount on my lens instead.

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Why? WHY?

Overall, my verdict is extremely positive. I love the feel of my K-7 with a battery grip attached, and I love the new-found stability. I also love the way lenses are more balanced now, and the fact that the added weight hasn't affected my neck (thanks to the Op/Tech USA neck strap). The added controls are an excellent bonus, and the design of the storage compartments for the contact caps is brilliant. Most importantly, I can use any AA batteries now when I forget to recharge the lithium ion battery. I always have a bunch of AA's ready to go, and I can buy AA's at any convenience store.

On the other hand, I regret that the added weight means I'll probably leave one more lens behind when I go biking. And I really hate the location of the tripod mount... what's the point of doing that when they make a clear effort to place it at the center of the lens on the camera?

I'm very pleased with my purchase and only regret not getting the battery grip sooner. I hope this review helps someone else who's debating whether to get one!

03-07-2010, 01:22 AM   #2
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Good review. I like my BG-4 for pretty much the same reasons that you list.

I believe that the offset tripod mount is because of the battery tray for the DLI90 battery. The thickness of the BG4's floor plate is such that the tripod mount protrudes into the battery compartment. If you compare the the AA tray to the DLI90 tray, you will find that there is a clearance built into the AA tray that allow it to slide all the way in.

In short, the DLI90's bulk forces the offset of the tripod mount. This could be addressed by making the BG4 a little bit deeper so that the mount could be hidden in the floor and not protrude into the battery compartment. However, this would probably throw off the ergonomics of the grip.
03-07-2010, 07:06 AM   #3
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Wow what a stable grip. it holds the 50-135mm well considering the weight.
Are all grip 4 the k7 like this?
03-07-2010, 08:45 AM   #4
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Cool. Congrats, Goreman.


Do you think it might trim some weight if you used another lithium, instead of the AA's? Then, in the event you forgot to charge them, you could have some AA's on standby. (Or, is that what you're doing anyway. I think i read you wrong the first time.)

Smart-looking cameras, those, especially with the grips. Really starting to look like cameras again, I think. I often wish they could have put an AF button on the K20's grip: that's a big appeal to the new body style. Me, I tend to prefer having a grip or winder on any given body. At least it's not dead weight in the bag when the camera's out.

03-07-2010, 01:11 PM   #5
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Welcome to the club!! The grip makes the DA*300 easier to hang on to and use as well.

03-07-2010, 02:18 PM   #6
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I bought the grip for my K10 about a year after purchasing the camera. Once I tried the grip I knew that all future camera's needed one. I purchased the K-7 and grip together and LOVE the combo.

Great review of a great piece of equipment.

Also...the K-7 grip doesn't have a spot for the remote, however I've offset this by purchasing a larger neck strap that is more comfortable, has quick release mechs (I don't want the strap on the camera if I'm using the tripod), and has small storage for extra SD cards and the remote.

c[_]
03-07-2010, 07:14 PM   #7
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I don't get it.... if you want to take the K7 biking then why get a grip instead of a spare OEM battery?
The battery is lighter, smaller and probably holds more charge than rechargeables.

If camera stability is an issue i would suggest a collapsable monopod rather than the grip.

mike

03-07-2010, 07:46 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by schmik Quote
I don't get it.... if you want to take the K7 biking then why get a grip instead of a spare OEM battery?
The battery is lighter, smaller and probably holds more charge than rechargeables.
I've tried that before with other cameras. Had 2 proprietary batteries to be sure I'd never be without power. Went on a vacation, both batteries were dead (forgot to charge them), forgot the charger at home. Ended up with 0 pictures.

This may not seem obvious to those who aren't prone to fits of forgetfulness, but for people like me, having more of an item which causes a problem doesn't solve the problem. I probably will buy a second lithium ion battery soon to make the grip somehwta lighter as Ratmagiclady suggested, but for now, the grip is more useful for me.

If you don't think it would be useful to you, then I hope my review helped to re-enforce that opinion.

QuoteOriginally posted by schmik Quote
If camera stability is an issue i would suggest a collapsable monopod rather than the grip.
The main reason I got the grip is for the use of AA batteries. The added stability and more comfortable hand position is just a bonus. It was never an issue.

Besides, a monopod would just add more steps before I can take a picture. Right now, I can climb off the bike, reach into my bag's side-access panel, take out the camera and start shooting. If I have to start taking my backpack off, pull open a monopod and attach it to the camera, then do the reverse to put it all away, I've gained nothing. If I need real stability, I have my travel tripod attached to my bag at all times.
03-07-2010, 11:43 PM   #9
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When shooting in a portrait orientation does the grip make holding the camera easier / more comfortable?
03-07-2010, 11:59 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by noahpurdy Quote
When shooting in a portrait orientation does the grip make holding the camera easier / more comfortable?
My answer to that is: it depends

If you normally turn the camera counter-clockwise to take pictures in portrait orientation, then yes, it definitely makes handling the camera more comfortable. The grip in portrait orientation is shaped so that it feels very similar to the camera in landscape orientation. It all works very well. The grip's controls end up in the exact same location as you're used to from landscape, so everything works as expected.

My only problem is that turning the camera this way makes it push up against whatever headgear I'm wearing at the time. The right side of the camera ends up on top, and that makes the camera taller. If it's windy, whatever cap I'm wearing gets pushed up and risks flying away. If I'm on a bike ride, my helmet is in the way and I have to remove it.

Before the grip, I was used to rotating the camera the "wrong" way (clockwise) so that the camera didn't gain any height when I looked in the viewfinder. This meant an awkward reach for my right index finger on the shutter button, but I got used to it. With the grip, I don't get the benefit of the added controls if I turn the camera clockwise. They all end up on the bottom. Short of learning to wield them with my pinkie finger, this seems like kind of a waste to me, so I've been making a conscious effort to rotate the camera counter-clockwise, even though I risk losing my hat every time.

This may seem like a silly thing to worry about, but when you've spent months developing a method, it can be frustrating to have to change it.
03-08-2010, 12:45 PM   #11
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Thanks for the reply. Luckily if I'm wearing a hat or a helmet I more than likely don't have my camera handy.
03-08-2010, 01:38 PM   #12
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What you need is a floppy hat!

I don't know if they make floppy helmets, though. (Maybe a visor that Velcros on or is mooshable? Maybe some nice thick neoprene?) I should probably look into that, myself. I do believe I'm actually feeling well enough to reach somewhere by bike right now. I need the shade, anyway, so I may as well protect my head. *skeptically trying to measure forehead space.* Only problem is, if I remember the last helmet I had well, it might still be too thick.
03-10-2010, 01:22 PM   #13
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I love my grip for my K20 but I don't think I'll take it along on a bike trip. Just take the battery. I have 4 batteries so I keep a charged one in the bag that I use on the bike and one in my normal camera bag just in case. I'm test driving a K-x which may make me give up the K20D and grip for its small size for riding photos.

And come on! You're riding a Hoss! One lb can't make that much difference to a Clyde;-)
03-10-2010, 01:54 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by VaughnA Quote
And come on! You're riding a Hoss! One lb can't make that much difference to a Clyde;-)
Every gram counts! Even to a clyde

Actually, my Hoss is heavier than most because I built it from scratch using freeride and all-mountain components rather than the dinky Shimano LX crap that's standard from Kona. The only Hoss-related thing on that bike is the frame. But disregarding that, I still don't want yet another pound on my back unless I intend to make use of it. With a 2 pound tripod, a 3.5 pound camera (with grip, batteries and 35-70mm lens), 1.5 pound lens (DA* 50-135mm) and miscellaneous other biking gear (tubes, snacks, tools, etc)... my backpack currently weighs upwards of 10 pounds. That's like 1/3 the weight of my bike.

Besides, I just checked, and 4 x D-LI90 batteries would weigh about 400 grams... almost exactly the same as a battery grip loaded up with 6 AA NiMH batteries. Except if I forget to charge the AA batteries (and I will, it's inevitable), I can always buy more anywhere. If I forget to charge up the D-LI90 batteries (it's already happened, it was inevitable), I'm screwed.
03-11-2010, 06:31 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by GoremanX Quote
Every gram counts! Even to a clyde
I'm with ya. I'm a current Clyde (Former skinny boy) riding a 30ish lb Yeti 575 so I know about haulling all-mountain stuff up the hills.

You are a braver man than I taking that much gear on an MTB ride. I worry like a guy with a teenage daughter when I take my body and an 18-55 beater on easy trails.
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