Next Up, the Vertical Grip

August 18, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

In a recent blog entry, I wrote about some issues with my gear. Yesterday, I received my Nikon D800 back from Nikon's service center in Melville. True to its word, Nikon provided free maintenance (and shipping back and forth) for my D800 despite the fact that my camera is more than three years old now. The invoice (with a total cost of zero) indicated that Nikon checked the auto-focus operation, checked exposure accuracy, updated firmware, cleaned the sensor, and performed a general check and cleaning.

In addition to my camera, I experienced issues with three other pieces of gear during my recent road trip through the Capital Cities of the Northeast! Another component that caused some problems was my Really Right Stuff (RRS) BH-55 ballhead. More specifically, the quick release clamp was sticking. At first, it was rather alarming. I was taking pictures of the Van Wickle gates at Brown University when I decided to flip my camera into the vertical position for a few more shots. The camera would not release from the clamp--so it was stuck to the tripod! Although I could flip the lever open easily enough, the clamp itself was not responding. Fortunately, RRS has excellent customer service. I called RRS right then. The representative explained that I should shift the camera back and forth with some force to pry it loose from the clamp. I was able to eventually remove the camera from the tripod. The representative also referenced this helpful video from the RRS website regarding this issue. After I returned home, I followed the video's instructions and the ballhead seems to be working properly now.

So, two down...two to go. The next issue I had was with my camera's MB-D12 vertical battery grip. I find the vertical grip to be an important tool for my photography. It looks like this:

By attaching this grip to the bottom of the camera, a second shutter button and autofocus controls are located in an easily accessible position when shooting vertically. Other benefits to the grip include more battery power, a faster frame rates, and more balance when shooting with heavier lenses. On the last day of my trip, the grip still provided power to the camera--so I know it was properly connected. But, none of the other controls respond at all. So, it's off to Authorized Photo Service (APS) in Morton Grove tomorrow morning. I'm hoping that the problem will be resolved by cleaning the contacts...but I haven't had any luck getting the grip to work by cleaning it.

As a side note, the vertical grip works great with a L-bracket. The L-bracket looks like this:

With an L-bracket attached to the vertical grip (and the camera), you can easily attach the camera to a tripod in either a horizontal or vertical position, and the lens will maintain the same relative position.

The fourth item which caused issues for me during the trip is my Gitzo tripod. The legs now require more force to tighten. If I don't take extra care to tighten the legs enough, the legs slowly slip down while I'm shooting. I called Gitzo and was told that this issue is common after a tripod has been used extensively for years. The bearings begin to wear down. The more surprising thing is that the estimate for this maintenance is about $350. So, I'm just taking more care during tightening at this point. But, before long I'll need to deal with the issue.

Edit: I forgot to mention that the zipper on my Think Tank Airport Acceleration v2 backpack also failed recently! Think Tank told me that the zipper tends to fail after five years or so when used extensively. Fortunately, a local shoe repair store repaired the zipper for a relatively low cost.


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