If you are looking for a battery grip for your Sony a7 III, a7R III or a9, but the price of the official Sony VG-C3EM battery grip (my review here) is making your eyes water, then the Meike MK-A9 Pro grip might be just what you are looking for.
But is it any good?
I’ve been using it for a couple of months now so feel like I can finally answer that question.
But first of all, despite what the A9 in its name might suggest, the Meike MK-A9 Pro battery grip is compatible with not only Sony’s flagship a9 camera, but the a7 III and a7R III cameras as well.
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 127 x 109 x 62 mm
- Weight: 255g
- Batteries Supported: 2 x NP-FZ100*
- Cameras Supported: Sony a7 III, a7R III, a9
- Full Specs: Visit Meike’s Website
Who’s it For?
The Meike MK-A9 Pro battery grip is for all Alpha Shooters who would like to double the battery life of their a7 III, a7R III, or a9 cameras and at the same time improve the ergonomics by adding a larger grip and giving you somewhere to place your pinky finger. Additional controls that replicate those found on the camera body also make shooting in the vertical orientation so much easier.
The Meike grip also comes with a remote control, allowing you to trigger your cameras shutter, focus, and set an interval timer from up to 100 meters away.
Since the a7III, a7R III, and a9 share very similar bodies, the Meike MK-A9 Pro is supported on all three cameras. I’m fortunate to own all three cameras and can confirm that the Meike grip fits and works perfectly with all three of them. Here’s the grip mounted to each camera.
The grip is made from plastic and features a simulation PU leather material (basically rubber) in key grip locations, the grip pattern closely matches the one found on the camera bodies, but it’s not identical. The grip weighs only 255g without the two NP-FZ100 batteries.
The shutter button isn’t quite as smooth to press as the one on the camera bodies, but all other buttons and control wheels provide a good tactile feel. The AF joystick is a lot looser than the one on the camera, but the movement of the AF point still remains precise.
Here’s a close-up comparison of the rubber material on the a7iii and the MK-A9 grip itself.
Unfortunately, unlike the Sony VG-C3EM grip, the Meike grip has not been sealed in anyway to protect against dust and moisture. So if you shoot a lot in wet conditions, this might not be the best grip for you.
Unlike on the Sony grip, there is no rubber seal around the base of this column, potentially allowing water into the cameras battery compartment.
The battery tray that houses two NP-FZ100 batteries suprizingly feels better built and much stronger than the battery tray in the more expensive Sony VG-C3EM grip. However, the release catch remains just as fragile.
The Meike Mk-A9 Pro battery tray.
Just like with the Sony grip, there is a very small gap visible between the grip and body, so it’s not a perfect fit. This gap could potentially allow water to get inside the camera, more so than the Sony grip since there is no rubber seal around the grips column that goes inside the cameras battery compartment.
The tiny gap between the grip and camera body.
The Meike vertical grip doubles the battery life of your camera by housing two NP-FZ100 batteries inside the grip itself. Please note, you won’t be able to make use of a third battery inside the camera, because the grips vertical column sits inside the battery compartment of the camera.
The grip includes an additional shutter button and control dials that replicate those found on the camera body, and also includes a remote control. On the base of the grip there’s a tripod mounting socket and an attachment point for a wrist or neck strap.
The grip holds NP-FZ100 batteries.
When the grip is attached you will be able to check your cameras LCD monitor or EVF to view the remaining power of each battery. When one battery is depleted, the second battery will take over. The grip will still work when only one battery is inserted.
Viewing battery status.
The design of the grip makes it much easier to shoot in the vertical position, this is because the grip buttons and control dials are almost identical to the ones that you will find on the body of your camera.
When shooting vertically you’ll find: a shutter button, control rings for aperture and shutter speed, two custom buttons (C1, C2), as well as AF-ON and AEL buttons, there’s also the joystick to move the AF point around. The buttons and joystick do feel a little softer than those on the camera body, but they still feel nice to use and offer a reasonable amount of tactile feedback.
The rear controls when shooting vertically.
The top controls when shooting vertically.
Where the Sony grip has a lock switch around the shutter button to prevent you from accidentally pressing the shutter with your palm whilst shooting horizontally, the Meike battery grip has an on/off rocker switch. However, because the switch overwrites the cameras on/off switch, when it’s in the off position your camera will also be off, even if the camera on/off switch is set to on. This means there is no option to prevent you from accidentally triggering the shutter with the palm of your hand when shooting horizontally, this seems to be a rather poor design oversight on behalf of Meike.
2.4G Wireless Remote
The Meike grip provides one very nice feature that the Sony doesn’t, and that’s a remote control that works up to 100 meters with a 2.4Ghz wireless transmission. You can use it to control the shutter in Bulb mode or set interval time shooting (time-lapse).
The Meike remote control.
It’s not the most intuitive remote to use at first, I actually had to grab the manual to figure it out! But once you have it sussed it works very well. Partially depressing the shutter button will focus on your subject just like the cameras shutter button. However, if you are using the AF-ON button to focus and have disabled focus with shutter button in the menu, then the remote focus won’t work until you have re-enabled focus with shutter button in the cameras menu.
You can charge both batteries without removing them from the grip by using your camera’s USB port. However, charging two Sony NP-FZ100 batteries via USB will take around 9-10 hours, this is almost double the time it would take if you were using Sony’s BC-QZ1 charger*. Personally I prefer to just take the batteries out and use the Sony charger, there is also less risk of surge damage to your camera this way, unless you are charging using a powerbank.
Attachment and Handling
To attach the grip to your camera body you will need to remove the battery door, this is very easy thanks to the small release catch on the inside of the door, just pull it back and the door will pop out of its fixings. Initially I was worried that I would lose the battery door, but thankfully just like the Sony grip, the Meike grip allows you to safely store the door inside of the grips column that slots inside your cameras battery compartment.
Attaching the vertical grip to the camera body.
Safely storing the battery door from the camera within the grips column.
Once you have safely stored the battery door, you simply insert the column of the grip inside your cameras’ battery compartment and tighten the fastening wheel.
The attachment screw/dial of the Meike Mk-A9 Pro vertical grip.
The grip is very comfortable when shooting in vertical mode and there is plenty of space for your fingers. When shooting in horizontal mode you will probably also find the additional grip for your pinky finger quite useful.
Needless to say, adding the grip and an additional NP-FZ100 battery will make your camera quite a lot heavier, but this will help to balance larger and heavier lenses like the Sony FE 100-400mm 4.5-5.6 GM (my review), or the FE 70-200 2.8 GM, and of course this is probably a must have accessory for the upcoming FE 400mm 2.8 GM monster lens.
Like I mentioned earlier, the buttons feel a little softer than those on the camera body, but the tactile feedback is still pretty good.
Most people will be comparing the Meike MK-A9 Pro to the Sony VG-C3EM battery grip. I’m working on a more detailed comparison for these two grips, so I’m not going to go into all of the details here.
But to briefly summarize: The Meike MK-A9 Pro grip is very similar to the Sony VG-C3EM but costs around $180 less. The build quality isn’t on par with the Sony, and the buttons are softer, but it does do the job that it was designed for.
Unfortunately, the Meike grip is missing the shutter lock button found on the Sony, making it far easier to accidentally trigger the shutter with your palm when shooting in the horizontal position. Instead there is an on/off rocker switch, but this also turns the camera off so it’s pretty pointless.
However, the Meike grip does have the added bonus of coming with a remote control that lets you remotely control your camera from up to 100 meters away with a 2.4Ghz wireless transmission. You can also use it to control the shutter in bulb mode or set an interval (time-lapse) recording.
If consistency is important to you and you’d like the battery grip to match your cameras’ body seamlessly in both looks and feel, then you will probably want to go with the Sony grip. If consistency isn’t so much of an issue, then the Meike is definitely worth a look.
If you don’t need the extra battery life or the extra vertical shooting controls, but would like a larger grip and somewhere to place your pinky finger, then you’ll be pleased to know that there are some even cheaper and much lighter alternatives. My recommendation would be the SmallRig L Bracket (my review). As well as the Arca-Swiss compatible mounts it also offers additional grip height and somewhere to place your pinky finger, best of all it only costs around $59. There is also the RRS L Bracket, but this costs around $200.
Another option is the Sony GP-X1EM grip extension, but this blocks access to the battery compartment and is extremely expensive for what it is. The Meike MK-X1EM is a cheaper alternative to the Sony GP-X1EM, but again the grip needs to be removed to access the battery compartment.
The Meike MK-A9 Pro battery grip does exactly what it says on the tin, and with the included remote control it even offers something that the much more expensive Sony grip doesn’t.
However, because the new NP-FZ100 battery already dramatically improves the battery life of the a7III, a7R III and a9, I don’t think that extending it further will be very important to so many Alpha Shooters, unless perhaps you shoot a lot of video. So it’s hard to recommend it for this reason alone.
The improved ergonomics are welcome, however, as mentioned in the compared to section above, if this is all you need, then there are a couple of cheaper alternatives that you might want to consider.
This battery grip really makes the most sense if you shoot a lot of vertical shots, then the additional shutter button and controls makes shooting in this position so much more comfortable, especially when shooting with heavier lenses.
Sure, it’s not quite as nicely built as the Sony VG-C3EM grip (my review here), the buttons are a little softer and it lacks any weather sealing, but then it’s a whopping $180 less than the Sony!
Ultimately, if you don’t mind the Meike label on the grip instead of Sony, take good care of your gear when the rain comes down, then it’s hard to be disappointed with this grip.
- Doubles your battery life
- Improved ergonomics
- Shooting vertically is a lot more comfortable
- Remote control (with interval/time-lapse) included
- Buttons feel softer than those on the camera body
- Battery latch feels cheap and fragile
- No shutter lock button, making it easy to accidentally press the shutter button with the palm of your hand
- No weather protection