One of the complaints leveled against the new Sony Alpha 100 is there is no vertical grip available. Minolta did offer a nice vertical grip for the Maxxum 7D, but there is no official VG for owners of the Maxxum 5D and Sony’s new A100.
Not having used the A100 yet, I can’t say whether that is a real problem or not. On one hand, I have shot thousands of vertical images with film and digital SLRs — and never used an auxiliary grip. On the other-hand, I can see where having a little something to hold onto below the lens might come make things easier. I usually just hold the regular side grip in my left-hand and allow the camera to rotate 90 degrees so it is hanging downward from my left-hand. I use my right-hand to steady the camera and trigger with my left index-finger.
It works fine for me, but many people say they have trouble shooting vertical images because they he big hands. Others feel that adding a grip on the camera bottom makes the SKR handle better.
Of course, most vertical grips also provide additional battery power. I’m not sure how relevant that is to the A100, as Sony claims that the camera can shoot around 750 shots on a fully-charged battery pack. Even if they are pushing the numbers to a best-case scenario, it seems that a single battery pack should allow most photographers to shoot for a full day. Buy a second battery pack and you would have the capacity to shoot 1200 – 1500 shots without recharging.
Still it seems like a lot of people want a vertical grip — it looks like Sony failed to anticipate this.
Never fear, if you want a VG for the Sony A100, there are options.
A Korean Company named DeCain is in the process of selling hand-made grips for the Minolta Maxxum 5D. It looks like they are just in the process of ramping up production, so its a case of ordering and waiting. Haven’t read any reviews yet, so I can’t say how well this grip works on the 5D.
Will the DeCain grip work on the Sony A100? Since the A100 was derived from the 5D and uses the same power and remote connectors, it seems that it just might. If not, it would seem that only a few changes would be required to make it work. Since this is essentially a hand-built piece, I’m guessing that DeCain could easily make changes and offer a grip that would fit the Alpha.
Of course, if you can’t wait, or you want to hack up something of your own, I’ve run across several home-built VGs for the 5D.
This post in the Digital Photography Review site shows off a vertical grip made of wood.
It looks pretty good — and it isn’t any special exotic or hardwood, either. It is painted black, but if you scroll down to the construction section, you can see he started with what appears to be an ordinary 2 X 4.
If wood-working isn’t your forte, there are also numerous people who have adapted the Canon BP-200 grip to the Maxxum 5D. This will require some hacking and soldering, but it looks fairly simple. The hardest part — assuming you have or can find an used BP-200 unit — is to find a connector to fit the 5D’s remote port. (As I said earlier, the A100 uses the same port.)
Industrious hackers have found modifying removable contacts from old electronics gear to be the simplest option here, as the connectors to fit the Minolta remote port are not readily available. It seems audio cables from old CD-ROMs can be made to work, as will as some internal cables from junked VCRs. In most cases, the plug will need to be reshaped with various tools to get it to fit right — but it can be done.
Here is a site showing step-by-step how to modify a BP-200 work on a Maxxum 5D. I’m fairly sure that most of this information would apply to the A100 as well.
This is the kind of hack I really enjoy. There is no need to modify the camera. All the hacking is in the grip itself. As long as you careful not to short anything in the electronic circuitry, you don’t’ have to worry about modifying or damaging you expensive digital SLR.
So let the hacking begin!
Until nest time, stay focused.