I was asked by several people to do a review on the Canon 550D / T2i aftermarket battery grips that are found on eBay. I decided it would be best to do a side by side comparison to the real deal OEM Canon BG-E8 battery grip. Here's some video footage I hope helps clear some things up. The video is a bit long, but what's 10 minutes out of your life compared to the $$$ savings if you decide you want to go aftermarket.
The Canon BG-E8 OEM retails for $160.00
LP-E8 Rechargeable OEM retails for $60.00
BG-E8 Grip available from $59.00
LP-E8 Rechargeable from $10.00
(I got the grip + 2 batteries for $69.00)
Ordering normally takes several weeks from overseas. There is never an option for overnight shipping from eBay overseas, so don't expect to place an order the weekend before your next event. The buyer I received mine from on eBay (found here),shipped it to me in just 7 business days after I placed the order. Very very fast for on overseas seller. The box and packaging inside the box is impressive and everything was bubble wrapped or came with a plastic shell cover. It even comes with some very clear, descriptive, instructional manual in different languages. Looks like quality stuff.
For the most part, the aftermarket battery grips functions exactly the same. Note: The battery trays cannot be swapped out. The OEM tray only fits in the OEM grip, the aftermarket tray ONLY fits into the aftermarket grip. The batteries of course don't matter. Aftermarket and OEM mixed up always show the battery life meter. One thing I highly suggest you purchase for any Grip owner is another charger. The grip requires 2 batteries to be used, and it truly sucks to be waiting on one charger. This is a must have for any Grip owner, so that you can charge another battery without waiting. As low as $1.99 + Free Shipping.
click image to purchase this charger for as low as $1.99 + Free shipping.
Canon LP-E8 Battery Chargers
The build quality is almost exact. At first I believed these aftermarket grips were coming out of the same factory and just being rebranded (like most things), but in fact there are some differences in design. The color is a bit darker and doesn't match the T2i exactly, but you would never know the difference unless they were side by side. The texture on the grip is a bit different too, but feels the same (non slip). Weight also feels very close, and again, you'd never know unless they were side by side. If you look very very closely, you'll see the buttons are just millimeters off from the OEM, but basically in the same area and laid out just like the OEM.
As you can see, by going aftermarket you can save a ton of money. In fact you can buy almost three sets of grips + batteries compared to going OEM. If you're wondering about the longevity of these products, i've been using aftermarket Grips + Batteries on my 5D Mark II and my Canon 7D without any problems. Of course you do have to order overseas and through eBay for the best deals. Some sellers might not have the best customer service, but if you're looking to grab one from the same person I received mine, check out this link.
Next on the review is comparing the battery life from the OEM vs. Aftermarket. I can already tell you that it's probably going to be exactly the same, so why waste time and just grab them online now for as little as $7.99 US. Check out my article here: http://cheesycam.com/?p=752