Meike MK-550DL Battery Grip

Third-party manufacturers take a lot of unwarranted flack, highly attributed to their stigma. Yes, brand reputation and questions about quality contributes greatly to their stigma, but some great products are potentially overlooked due to this mistaken perspective. This falls a little bit into the debate of popular review oriented sites like yelp or Amazon, which are structured around a star rating system. On one hand it is great for judging popular opinion and establishing a majority view, but it has its drawbacks. A boatload of people have selective focus and only look at the star guide, opting exclusively for the 4 to 5 star range without ever consulting reviews or the reliability of those reviewers. What about individual tastes and preferences as they compare with reviewer tastes and preferences? With that preface, I want to introduce you all to a key piece of camera equipment I carry all the time that allows me to get a good third of the pictures I take: the Meike MK-550DL battery grip. Here’s a quick rundown:

All the attachments

All the attachments

  1. The battery grip is plastic, but doesn’t lack in the quality department. It comes with two “battery magazines”, to use the manual’s terminology. It offers a LCD screen with a backlight and a vertical grip shutter button and dial. Also included is a wireless IR remote and two magazines for either Canon batteries or six AA batteries. Let’s take it one side at a time.
    • Front: There’s an IR receiver in front for wireless capture.
    • Sides: On one side is the slot for whichever battery magazine you choose to use, with a slot inside for a CR1620 battery that powers the LCD screen. The other side has the vertical shutter release and dial.
    • Back side: There’s a lock that firmly screws into the camera’s tripod mount, an on/off switch for the grip, 7 function buttons, an aperture/exposure compensation button, an AF point selection/magnify button, and an AE lock/reduce button (just like on the camera itself).
  2. Let’s go through a few of the built-in functions:
    • It helps in vertical photography.
    • Extends the battery life by carrying two batteries.
    • The remote allows for wireless shooting.
    • Programmable intervalometer function, useful for time lapses.
    • Using that same function, allows for timed bulb settings.
  3. The battery grip is chalk full of functions, but I only really use a handful of them on a regular basis. The build quality is excellent and adds a nice weight to my T2i. Additionally, the grip texture on the grip match that of the Canon. It’ll run you about $42 bucks, which is a bargain. I also went and purchased two backup batteries for my camera to use with the battery grip. I’ve never had a problem with the batteries and they come in very handy. Those will cost you only about $8 for two, perfect for the battery grip. You can find them here. I sometimes use the remote when I set the camera up on a tripod for selfies or product photos. I take advantage of the vertical grip on a daily basis. However, my most used functions are the intervalometer for time lapses and the extended bulb function for long exposures over 30 seconds.

Sadly, it’s not a perfect product. It’s very useful and a great bang for the buck, but there are some intricacies to it.

  • The dial malfunctions/gets stuck at times and a reboot is required. It rarely happens though.
  • Sometimes the entire battery grip malfunctions and the grip needs to be disconnected and reconnected. It’s very, very rare though.
24JAN14 update: Just kidding. I guess it has something to do with age, but everything on the grip seems to be malfunctioning more regularly now. Here’s my recommendation for you – once it’s on there, try not to take it off. That way the contacts will stay in line and the buttons will continue to work.

 

  • The IR remote is erratic, especially on any kind of mode besides fully automatic.
  • Programming in the time for any of the functions can be confusing the first few times.
  • The battery that powers the LCD screen gets dislodged every one in a while, freezing the LCD functions until the battery is removed and reinstalled.
  • The manual is hard to understand, but you don’t really need it. Just mess with it.

I’ve added a new post detailing how to use the battery grip, so please check it out here if you’re interested.