The Canon BG-E20 is the battery grip designed specifically for the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR camera. All of Canon's Battery Grips are fundamentally similar to each other in design and functionality, and the BG-E20 again, remains similar.
DSLRs without a built-in vertical grip (all non-1-Series bodies at this time) have the advantage of being compact and light, but these bodies are not comfortable to shoot with in portrait/vertical orientation – especially for long periods of time. An accessory battery grip solves this problem by adding a vertical grip complete with shutter release and other relevant buttons. And, the grips allow a second battery to be used for double the battery life.
Being easily removable, battery grips allow the DSLR's other advantages to remain available.
To install the BG-E20, the LP-E6N Battery is removed from the camera and the battery door is detached. The camera provides a small spring-loaded latch release switch on the battery door to make its removal especially easy. The battery door then attaches to (installs into) the grip for storage (snapping into place over a small instruction diagram).
The BG-E20 slides up into the empty battery compartment and locks into place via the provided tripod socket screw. The BG-E20 provides its own tripod adapter threads – this functionality is not lost.
The BG-E20 holds two Canon LP-E6N Batteries (or LP-E6 batteries optionally) that deliver double the number of shots or video time from the DSLR. The BG-E20 works fine with only one LP-E6N battery – a second LP-E6N battery is not required. The batteries insert into the BG-E20's magazine slightly differently than with the predecessors, with a small release button included for each. Batteries now make direct contact with the grip vs. batteries making contact with the carrier and the carrier with the grip.
Interesting is that the AA battery magazine typically included with Canon battery grips has been omitted from this one. This was likely the result of the more-sure battery contact design.
Don't forget to turn the grip's power switch on. The BG-E20's recessed power switch rotates vs. the sliding switch on the 5D III, 5Ds and 5Ds R's BG-E11 battery grip. The new switch is less likely to be inadvertently turned off (you likely always want it in the on position).
The Canon BG-E20 Battery Grip is very nicely built, matching the camera's build quality. The grip integrates impressively well to the 5D IV body with very little flex exhibited.
The batteries load from the end of the BG-E20 grip and orient in line with the grip to allow a less-squared and notably-better ergonomic design than some older battery grips with their rear-loading batteries. Still, the BG-E20 is somewhat bulky with a grip area that is about 4mm thicker than the built-in camera's grip and the difference seems emphasized by the flatter profile. The camera's normal grip becomes even nicer to use with the battery grip installed, providing more surface area for your hand to grip the camera with.
In use, battery grips make portrait/vertical shooting much easier and more comfortable. I feel much less fatigue in my arms and shoulders when using the battery grip for even moderately long shoots. And, I can hold a gripped camera steadier in vertical orientation as my right arm can be stabilized against my body instead of being held awkwardly overhead.
Once again the BG-E20 includes an additional Multicontroller/joystick positioned for vertical use. The Multicontroller is positioned just slightly less conveniently than the 5D IV's built-in Multicontroller, but it is far easier to use in vertical orientation than the camera's primary Multicontroller. This position is likely as-good-as-possible without changing the overall size of the grip – which would not be a good idea. Also included on the BG-E20 is an AF Area Select button, matching the new button found on the 5D IV. The grip's AF Area Select button is not grooved on the end (smoother), does not have a click feel when pressed (creates a lower quality feel) and is pressed slightly downward instead of upward in the camera. As noted in the 5D IV review, I have this button programmed to initiate an ISO settings change.
The BG-E20's large thumb and shutter release overhangs provide an especially sure handgrip, surpassing the built-in grip in this regard. If you are active while shooting, the more-sure grip is going to be especially welcomed. Notable is that the BG-E20's shutter release overhang has been re-shaped from the BG-E11, making it more similar to the camera body's ergonomics. I find this change to be a positive one.
Dimensions: 6.0 x 4.5 x 3.3" (15.2 x 11.4 x 8.4 cm)
Weight: 13.8 oz (391g)
Overall, I find the Canon BG-E20 Battery Grip to be very useful – it is definitely a nice-to-have accessory and I recommend it. The downside is definitely the price. This is not an inexpensive accessory.
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