- Grip significantly improves handling non-gripped bodies with large lenses
- Arca-Swiss compatible third party dummy grips cost a fraction of Olympus’ grips
- Some design flaws may exist though…
All Olympus OM-D models except the E-M1 have a very small grip which does not provide stable enough handling with bigger Pro-series lenses. For better grip, Olympus offers their own line of external grips. For E-M10s this is just a plain dummy grip without any electronics but for E-M5s you can have battery grips offering the required extra grip but also place for two batteries and doubled controls for portrait orientation (or official dummy grips as well). Needless to say these official accessories cost a lot so unless you need the extra batteries and controls, a third party dummy grip is a significantly cheaper solution – £20-30 vs. £150-250.
I bought my first aluminium grip for the good old E-M5 after buying the 12-40/2.8 Pro zoom. I also had it in my E-M10II and now have one in my M5II I bought to replace the M10II with. Sizes and shapes of bodies differs so each model requires a specific grip model.
Horizontal grip with removable vertical bit
Below is a photo of the M10II and grip which I have sold already. Of the three body-grip combinations I have used, this has been the best one in terms of both fit and style. Unfortunately I did not find a photo with the grip attached. I cannot find these on Amazon anymore but here is one for the first E-M10.
Below are photos of my current M5II grip which is a bit chunkier than the M10II grip was. The same seller does not have these anymore but this looks the same.
All of these grips retain access to battery compartment and have threads for a tripod plate. They also have a removable vertical bit for portrait tripod operation and come with Allen keys.
While Arca-Swiss is a camera equipment company, the name has become a synonym for their quick release system. Many manufacturers have their own proprietary quick release plates, Arca-Swiss being almost the only standard-like.
Therefore, among the best features in these grips is that they support Arca-Swiss clamps directly. This is something not even the Olympus’ own grips have, and something that is extremely handy for a tripod user. No need to worry about forgetting that quick release plate home anymore.
Both of my tripod heads have Arca-Swiss clamp, below shown my travel tripod. Obviously the vertical bit has this feature as well.
M5II grip issues with large lenses
I recently swapped some kit, sold my M10II and few lenses and got the E-M5II and Olympus 12-100/4 Pro zoom. This lens is huge in the Micro Four Thirds world so grip is essential. However, there is a design flaw with this grip as there is not enough space for fingers between the lens base and the handle. I can just fit my fingers there but it is not very comfortable. I also needed to add some duct tape over a sharp grip surface on the lens not to destroy my nails.
I am sure future grips will take this into account as these big lenses are quite new in the system but this is definitely something to pay attention to. I will probably see if I can modify the grip somehow. Nevertheless, it is still more comfortable with this lens than being without the grip.
I highly recommend getting a grip if you have or are planning to have some of the larger lenses. This cheap grips are excellent alternative to Olympus grips. However, as has been seen some problems may occur.
I highly recommend the iShoot E-M10II grip. For M5II you may want to look for slightly smaller grip that gives more room for fingers with the biggest lenses.
By the way, iShoot make these grips for many other cameras than Olympus as well.