Sony Alpha 580 Vertical Grip – Cheap

The Sony a580 is a great dslr camera, but like most cameras it can be made easier to hold with a vertical grip.  A vertical grip usually does at least three things.  It makes the camera easier to hold for those with large hands in any position, and easier to manage in the vertical position for most everybody.   The third advantage is more power by the addition of an extra battery.

Cheap no-name Vertical Grip for Sony a580 and a550

By the time I decided that I wanted/needed a grip for my Sony a580 the grip made by Sony had already been discontinued.  They could still be found with some searching, but the price was well over what I wanted to pay.  I don’t recall the price exactly, but it was half as much as the camera at least.  While looking on eBay I saw a few different no-name, straight from China vertical grips that would work.  I ended up buying one that came with two extra lithium batteries, for less than $90.  I knew what I was getting wouldn’t be as good as an original Sony, but I decided to take a chance and see.

After the package arrived I checked it over.  As I expected the plastic was of fair quality, as was the rest of the build.  I was very pleased that the fit between the camera and the grip was very good, no slop at all.
The size of the grip gave me more surface to hold on to for my large hands in the horizontal position.  In the vertical position it also felt good.  While holding the camera in that position there is a separate shutter release and some additional basic controls, the the wheel on the front, AE lock, and exposure compensation. These controls can all be turned off, so they are not accidentally engaged when the using the camera in another position.  Everything worked well, and continues to do so a few years since I have got it, but I no longer use the camera much.

Complaints

A few complaints about this vertical grip is that for some reason the batteries, even the original Sony batteries drain quickly when stored in the camera.  When Alpha 580 was my go to camera, I kept it in my bag with no batteries.  The extra battery life while in the field is improved over a single battery and makes for longer time lapse photo sessions. The batteries that came with it seem not to provide as much power as the original, but I have never tested it for sure, so it may be bias.
The cheap plastic makes for bad moving parts.  The contacts that connect camera and grip are too flimsy, so I don’t recommend taking it off and on frequently.  The button that ejects the battery is also wearing fast.  There is a piece of rubber to rest your thumb on while shooting in the vertical position and the glue is coming loose.  Having some issues with a cheap camera accessory is to be expected, and even with these problems I would still recommend it for light use.

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