Canon's Grip, and Photographers' Gripe
When Canon first released the official BG-E11 vertical battery grip for the 5D Mark III at $349, many photographers balked at the price and chose to wait for the knock-offs to hit the street. The first to arrive was the Vertax BG-E11 by Pixel; a Chinese manufacturer with a reputation for making some decent third party products. When the Vertax version of the BG-E11 launched at $85 with free shipping from Hong Kong, I jumped on it. At almost one quarter the cost of the Canon grip, I could get the same functionality, albeit in a more fragile plastic assembly. But seeing as I don't abuse my gear, I wasn't too worried about a plastic grip. And heck - even if I did crack or break it, I could replace it two times over before coming close to the cost of the Canon version.
A Sloppy Copy
Soon after receiving the Vertax grip I quickly stumbled upon a big problem: batteries left inside the grip suffered gradual power drain, even with both the grip and the 5D3 powered off. It was bad enough that two batteries would be almost completely drained after 7-8 days in storage. This almost cost me a job when I showed up for a gig and found my camera batteries dead. Luckily my 7D backup was fully charged and ready to roll (thank god for backup bodies and batteries!). When I returned from the gig I immediately emailed PixelHK in China notifying them of the problem. I really didn't expect a reply, but I kept my fingers crossed.
Pixel Steps Up and Offers a Solution!
A few days after emailing PixelHK I was surprised to get a personal response. While the English was a little broken, they acknowledged the battery drain issue on their 5D3 grip, and promised to replace my grip as long as I could provide proof of purchase. After emailing them my receipt they sent me a return address with some instructions for receiving a replacement! Here's a partial quote from their email...
So if you are an early adopter of the Pixel Vertax BG-E11, just drop them a note at their support email and tell them your problem. While you may be without your vertical grip for a couple of weeks while the replacement is processed and shipped overseas, it's nice to know that Vertax is servicing its U.S. customers properly. I'll definitely be considering their products in the future!