• Ed Dozier

DSTE Battery Grip Review For Nikon and Canon

I got a DSTE battery grip for my Nikon D7000, after my 8-year-old Vello BG-N4 grip finally died. Vello doesn’t make a grip for the D7000 anymore, although they still do for models as old as the D7100. I gambled and bought the DSTE MB-D11H grip.


The Nikon battery grips are fairly expensive, and you can typically buy between 4 and 6 generic battery grips for the price of a single Nikon grip. I own Vello grips for several models of Nikons, and this is the second time that I have had a Vello grip fail. Considering the price, I’m way ahead of the game compared to buying Nikon grips. The Vello grips have the same functionality as the Nikon ones, and all of the controls are in the same place as they are on the Nikon grips, too.


I have had this DSTE grip for a several months now, and its still working perfectly. I wanted to wait and give it a good workout before I was willing to comment on it. So far, I have no regrets. This gamble has paid off.


I honestly cannot tell the difference between the Vello/DSTE grips in terms of look, feel, or function. The only design difference is that the DSTE grip includes an infrared remote control, which lets you shoot from up to 27 feet (8.2m) away, in ideal conditions. The buttons and dials feel fine on both company’s grips; they don’t seem like a non-Nikon part at all.


There are DSTE battery grips offered for other cameras, such as Canon, as well. I don’t know all of the camera models that are supported, but it appears at the time of this writing that DSTE has grips for the Nikon D7100, D7200, D850, D3100-D3300, D600-D610, D750 and D5300. There are probably many, many more supported cameras than this list.




DSTE battery grip mounted on Nikon D7000



In the shot above, you can see the grip with its sub-command dial and lockable shutter release on the left. The little red window on the grip is its infrared sensor for the remote release.


The DSTE grip has the same styling and feel as the camera materials. It includes two different battery drawers (just like the Vello) to hold either an EN-EL15-series battery or 6 AA batteries. You can also hook up the EP-5B AC power adapter to it, if you wish.


If you don’t have an extra battery, the grip controls all work just fine without a battery installed in it. You can also operate the camera with no battery installed in the camera, and just inside the grip instead.


There is, of course, a ¼-20 tripod socket on the base of the grip for tripod use. It's located at the correct location for proper left-right balance, as well.


The specifications state that it weighs 234 grams, or about 8 ounces. Many people are really hung up on weight. To me, this extra weight is pretty trivial. I sometimes wonder if some people only wear shorts because slacks are too heavy. To each his own, as they say.




DSTE battery grip rear view


In the shot above, you can see the multi-selector, the AE-L button (mine is reassigned to be an AF-ON button), and the Main command dial.




DSTE and Vello grips comparison


You can compare the DSTE and Vello grips above. Except for the DSTE infrared receiver window, you can’t tell them apart. If the Nikon grip was included in the shot, I’ll bet you couldn’t tell it apart from the other grips, either.



Infrared remote control




Infrapro infrared remote control



As I mentioned above, this little remote control worked for shooting up to 27 feet from the camera. It operates basically the same as the official Nikon ML-L3 remote, except that the “Infrapro Remote” only controls the battery grip. The DSTE grip only has an infrared receiver on its front, so you can’t operate it from the rear of the camera.


I should mention that you need to set the camera release mode to “Mup” to use the remote. In this mode, you press the remote button once to flip the camera mirror up, and then press the remote a second time to release the shutter. This is optimal for ridding any vibrations when shooting, so it makes sense to operate in this mode.


I don’t know if other DSTE grips for other camera models operate in this same way for remote photography, but I suspect they do.


The remote is pretty small, and will easily slip into a pocket when you're not using it. It's only a little bigger than the Nikon ML-L3 remote. I have used it for several months with its original battery, so it seems to be pretty efficient with power usage.



Weather sealing


Forget about it. Keep in mind that Nikon offers zero warranty protection against water damage, in case you have any illusions about their gear. Just buy another grip if you drown your first grip; you’ll still be money ahead.


Summary


I don’t know about long-term durability of the DSTE grip, just like I didn’t know about my Vello grips’ longevity, either. So far, I’m very happy with it and have no regrets.


I’m a huge fan of battery grips, mainly because of their better ergonomics, the superior balance with bigger lenses, and not worrying about running out of battery power. It's also simpler and quicker to remove the battery from the grip than the camera body for charging.


If you haven’t tried a battery grip before, you might just find that you never want to be without one again. Relative to the price of just about any other piece of camera gear, adding a grip like this is about as dirt-cheap as it gets.

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