Newell Battery Grip VG-C4EM for Sony at a glance:
- Fits Sony A7 IV, A7R IV and A9 II
- Holds two FZ100-type batteries
- Replicate portrait-format controls
- Weighs 229g
I’m unashamedly a fan of small cameras. By much the same token, this means I’m not much of a fan of vertical grips. But even I can’t dispute their usefulness in certain situations, for example when shooting a lot of images in portrait format, or when using large telephoto lenses.
Newell offers a range of camera accessories, including batteries, chargers and remote release switches. It also sells vertical battery grips for a number of Canon, Nikon and Sony models. Its VG-C4EM is specifically for use with Sony’s latest full-frame mirrorless bodies, with the Alpha A9 II, A7R IV, and A7 IV listed on the box.
Like the Sony version, the Newell VG-C4EM bolts onto the camera’s tripod socket and provides a replicate set of controls for portrait-format shooting. It also holds two batteries, although you have to remove the one inside the camera to make it fit. Compared to the Sony original, its biggest attraction lies in its price: £160 compared to £400.
Newell Battery Grip VG-C4EM: Key features
- Lock switch: A lever switch surrounding the grip’s shutter button enables or disables the portrait format controls
- Power: The grip accepts two FZ100 batteries, doubling the camera’s shooting stamina. They can be charged inside the grip via the camera’s USB-C port
- Battery door: There’s a dedicated slot to hold the camera’s battery door, which has to be removed to use the grip
- Tripod socket: A standard ¼ in socket is found on the underside for attaching the camera to a tripod
Newell’s VG-C4EM isn’t, however, exactly a clone of Sony’s original VG-C4EM grip. Instead, it appears to be a re-worked version of Newell’s VG-C3EM. This means it has almost exactly the same design as the eponymous Sony grip for third-generation Alpha 7-series cameras.
You still get all the same vertical shooting controls, namely front and rear dials, a joystick, two custom buttons (C1 and C2) plus AF-ON and AEL buttons. But they tend to be smaller and not in exactly the same places compared to the Sony VG-C4EM, while the buttons are rather ‘clicky’, with just a shallow travel. The handgrip itself is also noticeably less chunky. So it’s not quite as nice to use as the Sony version.
The other big difference comes with the quality of construction. While Sony’s grip boasts a magnesium alloy shell and the same weather sealing as the camera, this one makes no such claims. But the plastic housing still feels sturdy enough and brings the advantage of reduced weight, at 229g vs 290g.
In practical use, the Newell version fits perfectly onto the Sony Alpha 7R IV and feels totally secure, even when using it to hold a 100-400mm lens one-handed. It also behaves as expected in terms of functionality. All the controls work just as they should, and batteries can be charged in the grip via the camera’s USB-C port.
Setup tip: Dial Ev Comp setting
The two electronic dials on the grip replicate the functions of those on the camera body, and notably, there isn’t a third dial for setting exposure compensation. As is Sony’s way, by default the two dials do exactly the same thing in exposure modes other than manual.
However, by enabling ‘Dial EV Comp’ in the camera’s Custom Operation menu, one can be set to control exposure compensation. I assign this to the rear dial, which comes closest to matching how the camera works.
Newell Battery Grip VG-C4EM: Our Verdict
Newell’s VG-C4EM is ideally suited for Sony users who’d like the option of having a vertical grip but won’t be using it all the time, and particularly in demanding weather conditions. Otherwise, the Sony original remains a better bet for those using one heavily on a regular basis, albeit at a much higher price.