Hacking the Canon BG-E3 battery grip

When purchasing my Canon Rebel XTI (a.k.a. “Canon EOS 400D” in Europe or “Canon EOS Kiss Digital X” in Asia), I also ordered the Canon battery grip BG-E3. When I was playing with the camera for the first time in a shop I found that (compared to the EOS 20D/30D/40D), the body of the XTi is too small for my hands. Not that I have huge paws, but it just felt too unhandy, especially using some of the heavier lenses, e.g., the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM.

So, when buying the BG-E3, I also got a better grip for the camera – it’s a great enhancement for the handling, not to mention the vertical shutter button and of course (the main reason for a battery grip) extended battery life when using two Canon NB-2LH batteries inside the grip instead of only one in the camera.

Canon BG-E3 battery grip

There is just one problem with that setup: Canon decided to design the battery grip in such a way that it drains bower from both batteries at a time while you’re shooting. On the one hand this means that you can take pictures for a longer period of time but on the other hands you’re still bummed when you run out of battery juice and have to dig through your backpack (you didn’t leave it at home or in the car, did you?) to load a fully charged battery.

My hack to resolve that problem is pretty simple – and I’m sure that I’m not the first one who came up with this idea. I used some masking tape to cover the contacts inside the battery compartment. Masking tape is easier to remove than regular sticky tape, so using it makes this hack easily reversible. On top of the masking tape I placed some regular nonconducting tape.

Hacking the Canon BG-E3 battery grip

After you’re done you can load two batteries in the grip and only one of them is drained during shooting. When you run out of power just open the grip and simply switch both batteries. Continue shooting. Remember to charge the empty battery at the end of your shooting day. This small hack saved my life more than once during our vacation on the island of Sardegna/Italy this summer.

Hacking the Canon BG-E3 battery grip

Another tip: when you’re using the battery grip but only have one battery loaded, place it in the middle slot (as seen on the previous picture), because the camera handling is more well-balanced then. Happy shooting!

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