XT-2 Battery Grip Review - The Overrated Photographer

Fuji XT-2 Battery Grip Review (VPB-XT2)

Introduction

I'm going to apologise in advance for some of the photos. I had to take some with my iPhone as I didn't have a spare camera around. Unfortunately it's difficult to take a photo of a camera and grip with the camera you have on the grip so if you spot something of poor quality, that's the iPhone photo (or just my terrible photography skills with the X-T2). All the photos in this review were taken with the 35 f/2, most at ISO1250 and no noise reduction.

This is a review for something Fuji call the VPB-XT2, as opposed to the logical choice Fuji could have used which was X-T2 Battery Grip. Nikon did the same but at least they had an excuse as a grip was sometimes used with multiple cameras, but Fuji wasn't content to call it the battery grip, they called it the Vertical Power Booster Grip. Obviously there are so many non-power boosting battery grips in their range that couldn't be covered by the name (Sarcasm Alert). I'm guessing someone at Fuji must have just attended a technology marketing academy when they came up with that name. For the sake of keeping things simple, I will hereby refer to it as battery grip. 

I'm a big fan of battery grip's because they give you the benefit of the added balance with longer lenses whilst maintaining the ability to remove it when you don't need it or want to travel light.I find when you use the heavier zooms (16-55 and 50-140), most cameras tend to feel a little front heavy and the grip does a good job of balancing them out. This is not unique to the X-T2 because of the small size, I had a grip for my Nikon D750 so full frame cameras suffer the same fate, if not more so because of the heavy weight of the pro glass. 

Whatever your reason is for getting the battery grip, you either need/want it or you don't. These arguments come down to things like hand size, lens weight balance, verticals grip button, there is no wrong or right and there certainly isn't a rule book (outside of Fuji employees) that says you have to buy one. The only real argument that would make it a critical accessory is the headphone jack for video, but I'm not a video person so my care factor is zero. Sorry videographers, no offence intended.

What's in the box

The packaging with the X-T2 battery grip is line with the rest of Fuji gear. Good upmarket packaging with consistent branding. Its good quality but don't expect any bells and whistles when you unbox it. I've neglected to provide a box picture. If you want to see the box, the unboxing videos on youtube will probably provide more excitement. I also haven't bothered to provide a photo of the adapter, it plugs into the grip, it's relatively unexciting and looks like every other adapter on the market.

The X-T2 battery grip comes with the basics. You get the grip, a power adapter, a headphone extension cable and a manual. That's it. If Fro reviewed Fuji gear, this sniff test would only be 1.5 seconds long. Given Fuji includes the little cloth pouches with their lenses, it would have been nice for them to include one with this because I'm guessing most people won't leave it on the camera permanently. It also would have been nice if they offered a spare tray like Nikon that allowed you to use AA batteries in case of emergencies. 

Pricing

People always balk a little over battery grip pricing, whether it's Fuji or anyone else so it doesn't surprise me if people complain about it with this. At first glance, the X-Tz battery grip is an expensive beast. That said, it's good quality it does come with a stand alone charger which charges both batteries in the grip but I do still like the Nikon version which offers the option of using AA batteries, an' appealing prospect with the XFZ battery life or lack there of.

Quality

People always balk a little over battery grip pricing and in most cases it's not surprising. The manufacturers send out a little plastic grip for the price of an entrance level DSLR which half the plastic, half the metal and half the electronics and expect the public to suck it up. I personally think battery grips are one of these areas where manufacturers try to make a little extra. That said, I can't fault Fuji in the sense at least their battery grip is very good quality and it's difficult to differentiate what is metal and what is plastic. The material and construction matches the body. The quality of the X-T2 grip is definitely one of the better battery grips I've encountered. It's also weather sealed and for this price I would expect nothing less.

On top of the grip they have put a really nice veld sheet so the grip and body attach security and without rattling which is a great idea. I've seen a lot of people comment on the amazing fit and I am slightly in disagreement. Whilst I am not a massive fan of the strip that goes up the side of the body, I understand why they did it. It adds more support to the connection and as a result it's less wobbly than the grip on my D750 was. But to have a second piece extending outside the body on other side along with two metal poles seems to be going into the overkill area. I've seen people hanging their full frame cameras and battery grips upside down on Blackrapid straps with pro full frame glass and with the weight of the X-T2 and glass pales in comparison so I'm pretty sure they could have kept it on one side. I guess its hard to complain about something when Fuji have put a lot of work into the strength of the grip on the camera. The example below shows the overlap on the one side which I think may be a bit over over engineering.

Features and handling

From a features perspective, the grip is fairly basic as one would expect. Grips aren't camera's so they tend to be confined to a subset of the basic camera functions. It would be great to see a manufacturer include an LCD display at some point like the Nikon D5 has on the lower section of the grip but for some odd reason none of the manufacturers have ever included it so I can't fault Fuji individually for that.

On the grip, you get both dials in vertical mode, the AE-L and AF-L, the function and the Q menu  button along with the ability to switch off the shutter button on the grip so you don't inadvertently finding yourself taking photos unexpectedly. You have the joystick to check focal points and there is also a separate boost switch which overrides in the body menu option when you connect it. 

From a port perspective, for video users there is the headphone jack which would be fairly critical (I would guess) for anyone who shoots video. In conjunction to the headphone jack, you will find a power port which allows you to charge both batteries in the grip. I will point out that the grip seems to use the first battery before the second so if you do have to remove the batteries to charge, at least it'll be only one you are having to charge the majority of the time.There Is some inconsistency in the button locations vs the normal camera which is contrary to what you get with DSLR grips. The challenge in Fuji's case is that the grip is smaller than the one you would get on a DSLR so I don't believe they had any other options and I can't blame this on a design flaw. 

Apart from the usual buttons, you do get some additional functionality with the grip but the vast majority is already offered with the boost mode  in camera without the grip. You get:

 - A reduction in shooting interval of 0.02 seconds

 - A reduction in shutter lag time of 0.005 seconds

 - A reduction in blackout time of 16msec

 - An increase in fps rate of 3fps (8fps to 11fps)

I'm guess most of these with the exception of the increased frame rate would be barely noticeable to most people, not that I don't appreciate them.If I had to complain about anything on this, it's in line with my complain on the X-T2. They put tiny AE-L buttons on the grip that are hard to use for AF-On. Giving people the ability to set the AF-On and then giving them a button that sticks out half a millimetre is like giving people the right to vote and putting the voting station 1000km's away. You start to question whether it's worth the effort of using it.

Shape and comfort

Comfort is subjective, as it depends on hand and finger size. From my personal perspective, the X-T2 Battery grip is one of the more comfortable battery grips I have used. I was worried the small size and shallow depth may make it a little uncomfortable, but it was surprisingly comfortable to hold and easier than my previous D750 with grip to hold one handed. The weight with grip is pretty reasonable and I would have no issue hold the camera one handed with the grip for extended periods.

Conclusion

As I said at the beginning, I won't try convince you on the reasons you need the grip, I'll leave that to you to decide, but if you want the grip, I would highly recommend it. It's well design, the quality is incredible, the pricing is comparative to most premium brand grips, and it's really comfortable for those who have large hand sizes.

For those shooting with long lenses, it does an amazing job of balancing out the camera, so much so, that if weight isn't a premium for me, the grip is permanently attached.

The added benefits of an in grip charger means you can charge 3 batteries at the same time (if you're using the USB charger on the camera and that in itself reduces the requirement to carry additional chargers if you need to charge multiple batteries quickly.

If you are wondering about the arca plate on the camera, it's a high quality plate from Wimberley called the P5. It's nicely rounded so if you use the grip in portrait mode, you don't find pointy edges poking into your hand. 


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