I paid £430 ($380) to make my cameras BIGGER. I really need to get a grip!

Camera grip
How many fingers do they have at Sony? I have four, and I like to get them all around the camera. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

I don’t like big lenses on small camera bodies. It’s like camera makers have two different development teams that never speak to each other. I bought my A7R II (a great camera) with the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS (a great lens, as it happens) and the two just don’t go together at all.

Here’s a clue. The A7R II weighs 627g body only, with battery and memory card. The FE 24-105mm weighs 663g. Sony’s Alpha 7 cameras, bless them, are not endowed with the best grips, not least because of their shallow height, so hanging the same weight again off the front of these pint-sized cameras is not going to help.

I also have a Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS which is a little better at 518g and a little shorter too, but even this is hardly a match made in heaven. I don't use straps. I'm a hand dangler – I like to walk around with the camera gripped in my right hand.

So I took the plunge and bought the Sony VG-C2EM Battery Grip. It makes the camera as ugly as heck and a little harder to squash into a bag but a heck of a lot easier and more secure to hold with a big lens on the front. The useful side effects are a more comfortable portrait grip and double the battery life – which the early A7 models with their feeble NP-FW50 batteries absolutely need.

I’m not actually a fan of big, chunky cameras, but if that’s how the lenses are going to be, then a big chunky camera is better than a small one. Your fingers, hand and forearm have much more leverage and you get much less hand strain.

The OM-D E-M5 III is great with a titchy EZ 14-42mm zoom or a little f/1.8 prime, but put a Pro lens on it and it's out of its depth – the ECG-5 screw-on grip makes a huge difference. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Yes, even Olympus

And then the same thing happened with my Olympus OM-D E-M5 III. I thought this camera was so great when I reviewed it (I am a massive MFT fan) that I immediately bought one. Except that when I mounted my M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro lenses, I realized it wasn’t big enough.

The solution was the inexplicably expensive Olympus ECG-5 screw-on grip. But, expensive or not, it has transformed the handling of the E-M5 III with these Pro lenses. In fact, I never take it off. The Olympus ECG-5 is just a handgrip, with no additional battery and no vertical controls. Was it worth it? No question.

So I’ve mostly given up hoping that camera and lens makers will make lenses of a size to match the cameras they’re fitted to. Primes? Yes, that’s starting to happen. But zooms? With a handful of notable exceptions, these just seem to keep getting bigger.

Instead, then, I wish camera makers would make cameras the right size to fit their lenses. There’s not much sign of that, either. So until they do, I’m just going to have to get a grip.

Read more:

Best Sony cameras
Best Sony lenses
Best Olympus cameras
Best Micro Four Thirds lenses

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Rod Lawton

Rod is an independent photography journalist and editor, and a long-standing Digital Camera World contributor, having previously worked as DCW's Group Reviews editor. Before that he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar, as well as contributing to many other publications. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more. Rod has his own camera gear blog at fotovolo.com but also writes about photo-editing applications and techniques at lifeafterphotoshop.com