I have a MB-D10 battery grip for my D300s. Battery grips are screwed below the camera, they hold, well, a battery and another set of buttons, which allows you to shoot upright pictures while holding the camera the usual way.

MB-D10 Battery Grip-1

I do not use this thing often. It is good for portrait sessions on the studio, but the battery grip makes the camera very heavy and bulky and after a 2 hour-shoot this is very tiring. Short summary before going into the issue I discovered today: There are three main advantages when using a battery grip. Being:

  • you can shoot more pictures before you have to change the battery (well, obviously)
  • you can shoot upright pictures and still hold the camera naturally (good for sport photographers for example, who sit beside the track and photograph marathon runners. A friend of mine does this to earn some extra money and he is very fond of his battery grip 🙂
  • due to a higher voltage you can shoot 8 instead of 6 frames per second with the D300s. Again an interesting feature for anybody who shoots fast action (sport, nature, children (children can go from happiness to wet-tear-mode quite rapidly…))

Now to the issue I discovered this week-end.

I was out in the park, shooting friends with a baby (shooting pictures, keep the jokes). When I paused to flick through the images, I was unnerved by a strange phenomenon. In unregular intervals the viewing mode was left, the screen went black and I had to push the playback-button again. Same with scrolling through the camera menus. At first I thought my clumsy fingers touched a button on the MB-D10, but the problem persisted when I held the camera only with my fingertips, careful not to touch any button.

Back home I tried a few things. To make it short – the third party battery seems to be the problem. I have three batteries for my D300s – the original Nikon one and two from a third party manufacturer (same capacity at a third of the price…). In the grip you can also use AA batteries as displayed on the picture above. The black-screen-syndrom only occurs in one constellation:

  • Third party battery in the grip,
  • camera set to “use the internal battery first, when depleted use the one in the battery grip”.

Change any of these settings and everything is fine. I used AA NiMH batteries – no problem. I used the third party battery in the grip and set the camera to “use battery grip first” – no problem. I do not know whether this is a “feature” implemented by Nikon to push their own batteries (is there a chip or something in the EN-EL3e batteries ? I don’t know) or if the low price from the third party guys has its price (bah, that’s a Euro into the stupid-phrase piggybank).

Conclusion: When using an MB-D10 use AA batteries, original Nikon batteries or set the camera to “drain battery grip first”.

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