Ownuser battery grip BH-E51/E51R for e-510
Ever since I got my e-510 I've been wanting a portrait/battery grip because I take a lot of vertical photos. Unfortunately, Olympus doesn't offer a battery grip option, nor are there any connections for a grip in the battery compartment. But thanks to the Taiwanese company Ownuser, there is a battery grip available. It's great that these kind of innovative 3rd-party manufacturers exist that make accessories which are not available from the camerabrand itself.
I ordered the more simpler (and cheaper) version of the grip, BH-E510, from enjoyyourcamera.com which is located in Germany. Unfortunately the grip stopped working, so I contacted Ownuser directly via email. The responds were quick and informative and finally they asked me to send the grip to Taiwan and they would send me a brand new BH-E510R, the one with a built in IR-receiver and a -remote. I was quite happy with their customer service. So, the BH-E510R arrived about a week ago and I took it with me on a trip to Lapland for extensive testing :
The first thing you gotta do when attaching the grip to the camera, is to take off the e-510's battery door. It comes off with just a little pulling, no unscrewing or anything like that neccesary. Then clip it on to the grip so it doesn't get lost and then just screw the grip on to the camera's tripod-screw.
Ergonomics and built
The grip is made of good quality plastic (though not on par with e-510's plastic) and doesn't feel cheap or weak. Due to the design of the grip, it feels and looks allmost like a solid part of the camera. The top of the grip follows the curves of the bottom of the camera making it sturdy and clean looking. The finishing of the grip is not the same as e-510's, which would have been cool. There are 2 points for attaching straps in the bottom of the grip. I really, really would have liked to have leather(/rubber?) on the front of the grip, it would have made the grip feel even much better. At the moment, the lack of leather on the grip makes it a bit slippery and leather would have added the needed friction between grip and ones hand. Ergonomics are great with the grip on the camera, it makes the whole camera just the right size for my hands and has great balance especially with larger/heavier lenses like the 12-60 and 50-200 zuikos.
The grip has two shutter buttons for vertical shooting, one for right hand and one for left hand use. For some reason I really dont like the positioning of the right hand shutter button (the one on the front of the grip), I think a better place for it would be on the right side of the grip like on the Olympus grip for e-3. Half press for autofocus works perfecfectly. The buttons dont feel as good as the shutter button on e-510, but not bad either.
Because e-510 doesn't have connectors for a battery grip, the buttons work through a connector on the usb-port of the camera just like a wired remote. I don't think the usb-connector gets in the way too much, nor does it make pressing the ISO-button noticeably harder. But it does mean, that using the usb-port for other things like transferring images to the computer means you have to take the grip's connector off. It would have been great to have an extra usb-port on the grip itself.
There are two switches on the sides of the grip the one on the left is a AA-CR-V3/DC -switch and the one on the left is used to switch the shutter buttons on/off and to switch the IR-receiver on. There are also ports for a wired remote and a dc-adapter. The grip takes two Olympus blm-1's as one would expect. The battery door is exellent, it's impossible to open by accident and can be opened even when the camera is on a tripod.
The difference between the BH-E51 and the more expensive BH-E51R is the infrared-shutter release possibility which the latter has. The BH-E51R has built in IR-sensors on the front of the grip aswell as on the back of it which is very usefull. The lag of the Ownuser remote is shorter than Olympus' own RM-1 IR-remote and I was able to release the shutter with the Ownuser remote from a 14m distance from the camera. The remote also has a nice 10 second self-timer button on it.
Overall I really like my BH-E51R and dont regret buying it at all. It's a great accesory and so far the only battery grip option for e-510. As for the price, I feel it maybe a bit overpriced because of it's monopoly position. At the purchase price of it (100€ for the BH-E51) I would have liked to have leather on the grip and perhaps a dial too or a dc-adapter included in the package. So there are a few things that could be improved in the possible next version, but overall it's great allready as it is and a great add-on for the e-510 that I can easily recommend.
-A well designed battery grip for a camera that was never ment to have a battery grip option. Just the right size and weight. Takes 2 blm-1's
-Gives that rugged pro feel and look
-Balances the camera with larger lenses.
-2 shutter buttons
-DC and wired remote ports.
-excellent battery door.
-IR receiver on the BH-E51R -version
-2 points for attaching straps on the bottom of the grip
-The positioning of the right hand shutter release button.
-Makes the usb-port harder to get to for other uses, because you have to take the connector off. Perhaps an extra usb-port on the next version would be nice?
-Perhaps a bit pricey