Nikon's MB-D10 (buy from Amazon,
Multi-Power Battery Pack for the Nikon D300 & D700 attaches to the bottom of the camera,
and has several benefits:
- It gives you three options to power your camera – In addition to the EN-EL3e that is
in the camera body, you can use a second EN-EL3e to increase time between battery
changes/charges, or you can use widely available AA batteries (it takes 8 of them, and
supports alkaline, Ni-MH, lithium and nickel-manganese batteries), or you can use the
EN-EL4a/EN-EL4 batteries used by the Nikon D3 and D2 series camera if you purchase a
separate Nikon BL-3 battery cover.
- If you use AA's or the EN-EL4a, the maximum frame rate for both cameras increases to
8 fps (frames per second), up from 6fps for the Nikon D300 and 5fps for the Nikon D700.
- The grip is ergonomically designed to allow comfortable shooting.
- A second set of camera controls, including a shutter release button, multi-selector
control, AF Start button and main and sub command dials are also located on the grip for
This set of features makes the MB-D10 a very compelling addition to the camera for
most users. The following items are supplied in the box:
- Nikon MB-D10 Battery Grip
- Nikon MS-D10 Tray for AA Batteries
- Nikon MS-D10EN Tray for EN-EL3E
- Nikon soft Case for MD-D10
- Nikon plastic cover for MB-D10 Connectors
- Instruction manual
Attaching to the Camera
Before attaching the MB-D10, you can either insert an EN-EL3e into the camera body, or
leave the camera battery chamber empty. If you have a battery in the body, then you can
use the cameras menu to select whether to use the battery in the camera, or the MB-D10
battery pack first using the cameras menu system. By default, the battery pack is used
Attaching the MB-D10 to the camera is very simple:
- A white cap is attached to the MB-D10 to protect the contacts for shipping, this
needs to be removed and stored.
- A rubber cover protects the contacts on the underside of the camera, this needs to be
removed, and there is a place on the top of the MB-D10 that it pushes into for storage.
- Align the MB-D10 with the base of the camera, the mounting screw inserts into the
tripod socket on the camera, and tighten using the attachment wheel.
We are actually very pleased with the fit and tightness of the grip – it's a lot
better than the grip for the Nikon D200, and while no grip is going to feel as good as
the integrated grip in cameras like the Nikon D3, it's very close. We've now had our
MB-D10 attached to our Nikon D300 for over 8 months, and tens of thousands of shots, and
not once has the grip worked loose.
Depending on the type of battery used:
Snap the battery into the tray provided, making sure the battery is oriented so the
contacts on the battery line up with the contacts on the tray, and slide the tray into
the MB-D10. Rotate the latch to lock the tray in place.
Attach the BL-3 cover (available separately) to the EN-EL4a following the instructions provided with the BL-3,
then slide both into the MB-D10, and rotate the latch to lock in place.
Place 8 AA batteries into the supplied tray, noting the orientation marked on the tray.
Slide the tray into the MB-D10, and rotate the latch to lock into place.
When the camera is drawing power from the battery pack the [BP] indicator on the
cameras control panel is displayed. If you are using AA batteries, under the Custom
Settings menu there is a Battery Type option that allows you to specify which kind of
batteries you are using (alkaline, Ni-MH, lithium or Ni-Mn), to allow the battery meter to
Which Battery to Use
If you already have a D3 or D2 series camera, buying the BL-3 cap for around $35 is the
best way to go for most users. If you don't, buying the cap, battery and charger will
cost around $250 in addition to the cost of the MB-D10.
If you don't already have the EN-EL4a and charger, we believe that low
self discharge Ni-MH batteries (for example Sanyo's eneloops) are the best all-round
solution for everyone else, costing about a tenth of the cost of going the EN-EL4a route,
but giving virtually identical performance for the vast majority of users. For more
details, please see our in-depth article on Nikon MB-D10 Battery Choice.
The grip is equipped with a shutter release button, main command dial, sub command dial,
multi-selector and AF-ON button for use when taking photographs in the vertical
(portrait) orientation. These buttons work exactly like the identical buttons on the
body. The shutter on the grip also has a lock (engaged by rotating the collar around the
button to the L position, to prevent accidental firing of the camera). The only thing missing is an on/off switch, which isn't
a major problem.
The layout of the buttons is similar to the body. The shutter and rear command dial
feel virtually identical to using the main controls on the D300 body. The front sub-command dial is in a very
similar location, but your finger passes over a ridge to get to it from the shutter, so
has a very minor difference in feel.
The AF-ON button is closer to the command dial on the grip than it is on the camera body,
but is still very easy to use with your thumb.
The biggest difference is the multi-selector – it's in a similar location on the grip
relative to the command dial, but you have to bend your thumb a little more to get to it,
so it's not quite as comfortable while shooting, and the selector is much smaller giving
it a very different feel.
In 8 months of use on our D300 covering tens of thousands of shots, we've not had a
single problem with the grip. It's performed flawlessly, it's very solidly built, and it feels
good on the camera. The additional frame rate and controls to allow vertical shooting are
a huge benefit and really add to the usability and flexibility of the camera.
We find the grip is very comfortable to use, and the extra weight it adds hasn't been an
issue for us - with some longer lenses like the Nikon 200-400mm f4 we find the extra
weight actually helps balance the combination better.
The only con we've found, is having to remove the grip to replace the EN-EL3e in the
camera's body. Using eneloop AA's that give us well over 2,000 frames per charge, we also
carry a spare tray so we could swap them out rapidly, so for us the EN-EL3e in the body
is rarely used. We've had to take it out and charge it maybe 3 times in the past 8
months, so it's a very minor con for us.
Bottom line, if you need longer battery life, or the higher frame rate, or you shoot
vertically a lot, the grip is a very welcome addition to the camera, we wouldn't hesitate
to give it a strong recommendation.
For more details, please see out in-depth article on Nikon MB-D10 Battery Choice.
Update Jan 2010:
Since this review was originally written, we've added a Nikon D700 to the camera bag. At 5 f.p.s. the D700 wasn't anything special for sports/action, so after a few weeks we bought a second MB-D10, and a second spare MS-D10 tray for AA batteries, and that just transformed the camera.
We now have many tens of thousands of shots using the MB-D10's across two heavily used bodies, and the combination of the grips and Eneloop batteries live on the cameras. Personally I wouldn't own a D300/D300s or D700 without one - the combination of battery life, 8 f.p.s. for action, the grip/controls for portrait shooting, and the ability to use AA batteries for both cameras and flash while traveling make the grip useful in virtually every situation.
On rare occasion (perhaps 3 or 4 times over the past couple of years), we've had issues with the camera not recognizing the batteries in the grip - this hasn't prevented the camera taking pictures (since we keep the EN-EL3e in camera), and in all but one case has been resolved by powering the camera on/off. In the one instance that power-cycling the camera still recognize the batteries in the grip, removing and reinserting the tray did solve the problem.
Built quality-wise, the grips are as robust as the cameras they attach too and are holding up very well despite being subjected to conditions ranging from the Texas summer heat, high altitude snow covered mountains, to shooting in windswept sand dunes. The picture below shows the current state of the two gripped cameras (the D700 also has a Kirk L-Bracket attached) and MS-D10 trays.