Micro 4/3 Review: Haoge HG-EM5III (E-M5 mark III) grip

Darmok N Jalad

There are FOUR LIGHTS!
Location
Tanagra
Posting yet another mini review for a bit of M43 kit, mostly because the items I've purchased have seemingly been under-reviewed by the usual camera sites. That doesn't make me an expert, but perhaps a bit of detail on a lesser-known product could help a random Googler. This time, it's the Haoge L-Grip for the E-M5.3, or as Amazon calls it, "Haoge HG-EM5III Quick Release Plate Camera Bracket Holder Hand Grip for Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III fit Arca Swiss Sunwayfoto Kirk RRS Benro." I kinda wonder if someone is getting paid by the word.

Mounted and ready for business. L-bracket not mounted.
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Top down view (large eyecup installed)
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As EM5.3 owners know, there really aren't a lot of grip options out there. There's the Olympus-made ECG-5, which is considerably more expensive. Yes, it is probably the smoothest design for the E-M5.3, and it offers a dial and shutter button, but it's also kinda expensive, and has a serious design flaw, IMO--you can't access the battery hatch without removing it! To me, that is an incredibly bad oversight on Olympus's part, especially since the EM5 isn't exactly a camel when it comes to battery life. The last thing I'd want to do in the field is remove and reattach the grip to swap batteries. Think about that, if you bought the grip and bolted it on, chances are you intend to do some serious shooting, probably with bigger lenses that have OIS, which guzzle down battery. Really seems like a tremendously poor design decision, one that surprises me, coming from Olympus. Perhaps one could make the argument that such a design wasn't possible, yet the HG-EM5III provides exactly that!

I can see my battery hatch from here!
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So for about $55, you get a solid metal grip, with a removable L-bracket, and a hex wrench for tightening. The grip is designed to work with Arca tripod mounts, which is likely a bonus for many users. I pretty much never use my Arca tripod--that's what the IBIS is for! I did check it on my fancy tripod, and it mounts securely. It doesn't take much effort to get it set up, and the grip adds 102 grams to the carry weight (with L-bracket removed). By my math, that increases the pull of gravity on the feather-light EM5iii body by 25%, so it's noticeable, but so is the handling. That puts the total body weight at 527g, which is about 10% less than the curb weight of the EM1.3. Having handled the EM1.3 extensively, I can say it is not exactly the same feel, but you end up with a pretty comfortable experience. I have large-ish hands, and things end up pretty comfy. The bottom of the bracket is tall enough the take my pinky from hanging off the bottom, while the grip extension covers the bottom two fingers comfortably. The "hostile communication finger" rests above that extension, but it naturally finds itself wrapped around because of where your thumb and index finger land to wield the camera. It's a pretty confident grip.

In regard to shooting, I don't have any hefty lenses, but I did find it helped add confidence when handling the 75-300ii, which is a very light lens for its range. The extra mass and grip aids with stability, which can make a big difference on that lens in particular. When paired with primes, it can look a bit oversized, but the same would be true if you had the G9, or maybe the E-M1. I'm not concerned about looks as much as handling, and there it seems just fine. More time with the HG-EM5III will tell, but I don't see it as an issue. I had no problem reaching or operating the front custom button with the grip attached, and there are no problems articulating the rear display, at least with the L-bracket off. If you use the L-bracket, the screen isn't coming out very far. I suppose you could mount that L-bracket the opposite direction, but I don't know if that would be wise, structurally-speaking. I'm more interested in handling, so the L-bracket came off right out of the box.

So far so good, right? Well, it's hard to tell exactly if this is an issue, but fit could be a little better. You can see a bit of light in between the grip and the body on the power button side, so it's not exactly a tight fit across the entirety of the base. However, there is no wiggle or wobble to worry about. I just lightly hand-tightened the bracket. I'm not about to torque-down hard on the mostly-plastic body of the E-M5.3. If it weren't for that bit, I'd say I'm impressed with the overall fit and finish, as the grip is clearly designed to match the creases and lines of the E-M5.3 rather well. It's quite an attractive finished product.

Not quite a tight fit on this end.
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The grip matches the lines of the E-M5.3 pretty well.
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So there's my mini review. I can add more content for those that are curious, or provide some photos of it with the L-Bracket and maybe slapped on a tripod.
 

Darmok N Jalad

There are FOUR LIGHTS!
Location
Tanagra
I figured out the source of the gap. There is a rubber pad around the tripod mount that gets compressed a bit, but not entirely. So you'll see a bit of light in the areas where the pad does not extend, and there will be ever-so-slight rocking if you push on the edges. You'd never notice it while just using the camera.
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Darmok N Jalad

There are FOUR LIGHTS!
Location
Tanagra
So I’ve had a few days of shutter clicks with the grip, and I can say I’ve grown to quite like having it on the body. Even with the 1.8 primes, it adds some confidence to shooting. Throw in the large eye cup and it really makes the E-M5.3 feel like a different camera, but it’s still capable of being small and light. Definitely worth the buy, IMO.
 

Holoholo33

Rookie
Location
Hawaii
Name
Walter
One thing I noticed about the Haoge grip. When you mount the L vertical plate, it blocks deployment of the articulating screen. However, you can flip the screen so that it is showing before you put the L on. I thought it was really a well-built and fitting bracket, and the accessory grip is just the right size and really helpful for larger lenses.
 
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Tili

Regular
Location
Ireland
Nice review! Part of me does think at +100g, it's perhaps time to just get a EM1 mk2 as its almost the same size and weight then. Would be cheaper too! Unless of course the oled EVF is the unique selling point for you.
 

Darmok N Jalad

There are FOUR LIGHTS!
Location
Tanagra
Nice review! Part of me does think at +100g, it's perhaps time to just get a EM1 mk2 as its almost the same size and weight then. Would be cheaper too! Unless of course the oled EVF is the unique selling point for you.
Yes, you do get quite close to E-M1 in size, I would venture that the E-M5iii with the Haoge is even a little taller than the E-M1, which might be a bonus for larger hands or folks who don't care for their pinky dangling. The other factor is that the E-M1ii appears to finally be discontinued, as all the regular outlets don't sell it new anymore. There are still loads of used ones though.

One thing I noticed about the Haoge grip. When you mount the L vertical plate, it blocks deployment of the articulating screen. However, you can flip the screen so that it is showing before you put the L on. I thought it was really a well-built and fitting bracket, and the accessory grip is just the right size and really helpful for larger lenses.
Yeah, I mentioned it a bit that the L will eliminate the articulation of the screen, but honestly, if you're using the L, it's for a tripod. In which case, you probably wouldn't want to have your display out like that. It is possible to put the L on upside down, which would resolve that issue, though I don't know what that would mean for stability and usability.
 

Holoholo33

Rookie
Location
Hawaii
Name
Walter
Yeah, I mentioned it a bit that the L will eliminate the articulation of the screen, but honestly, if you're using the L, it's for a tripod. In which case, you probably wouldn't want to have your display out like that. It is possible to put the L on upside down, which would resolve that issue, though I don't know what that would mean for stability and usability.

I emailed Haoge about the tab that prevents deployment of the screen and they said they designed it intentionally. However, that doesn't mean you can't use the screen. I just turn the screen to face out before I attach the L. In any case, I replaced the Haoge with the STC FOGRIP, and their L allows for partial deployment of the screen. If you have the camera low to the ground in portrait mode, being able to see the screen is helpful.

Here are a bunch of photos comparing the Haoge to the STC FOGRIP. I think the Haoge is fine, but I decided to try the STC.
 
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SailingSteve

New Member
I emailed Haoge about the tab that prevents deployment of the screen and they said they designed it intentionally. However, that doesn't mean you can't use the screen. I just turn the screen to face out before I attach the L. In any case, I replaced the Haoge with the STC FOGRIP, and their L allows for partial deployment of the screen. If you have the camera low to the ground in portrait mode, being able to see the screen is helpful.

Here are a bunch of photos comparing the Haoge to the STC FOGRIP. I think the Haoge is fine, but I decided to try the STC.
Thoughts after using both with the 100-400? I just purchased the lens and have a thread open under mFT on DPR regarding aftermarket grip input.
Thanks!
 
Location
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
Yes, you do get quite close to E-M1 in size, I would venture that the E-M5iii with the Haoge is even a little taller than the E-M1, which might be a bonus for larger hands or folks who don't care for their pinky dangling.

This is interesting to me - as I'm wrestling with updating my ancient E-M1, but don't like the larger size and dimensions of its mark II and III successors. In the photos you've posted here, it (the E-M5.3) really looks quite close, sizewise, to my E-M1.1, which (for me) would be a good thing.

I have one question about the eyecup on your camera - is it the EP-11? And how do you like it? I'm a fan of good eyecups, the one I got for my GX9 (whose viewfinder is often maligned) totally transformed it into a much more immersive viewing experience - does yours do something similar?
 

Darmok N Jalad

There are FOUR LIGHTS!
Location
Tanagra
This is interesting to me - as I'm wrestling with updating my ancient E-M1, but don't like the larger size and dimensions of its mark II and III successors. In the photos you've posted here, it (the E-M5.3) really looks quite close, sizewise, to my E-M1.1, which (for me) would be a good thing.

I have one question about the eyecup on your camera - is it the EP-11? And how do you like it? I'm a fan of good eyecups, the one I got for my GX9 (whose viewfinder is often maligned) totally transformed it into a much more immersive viewing experience - does yours do something similar?
It is the EP-16, and I like it a lot. Less shielding needed when shooting in bright conditions. It certainly sticks out more than the default eyecup, but worth it to me.

I tried the GX9 and didn’t care for the EVF one bit. Sent it back pretty quick!
 
Location
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
It is the EP-16, and I like it a lot. Less shielding needed when shooting in bright conditions. It certainly sticks out more than the default eyecup, but worth it to me.

I tried the GX9 and didn’t care for the EVF one bit. Sent it back pretty quick!

One more question if you don't mind. In your review, you said that you removed the L-bracket which comes with this grip. But when I looked at Amazon website, although it says that the Haoge grip "comes with a vertical L plate" - it doesn't show any vertical L plate at all. And I'm curious -- what does the 'vertical L plate' look like? Is it anything like the classic U design on RRS plates?
 

Holoholo33

Rookie
Location
Hawaii
Name
Walter
One more question if you don't mind. In your review, you said that you removed the L-bracket which comes with this grip. But when I looked at Amazon website, although it says that the Haoge grip "comes with a vertical L plate" - it doesn't show any vertical L plate at all. And I'm curious -- what does the 'vertical L plate' look like? Is it anything like the classic U design on RRS plates?

Let me answer that. The vertical L-plate for the Haoge is an open U shape. See the photo below. The Haoge is the black one in back. The STC FOGRIP for the EM5 III is the silver one in front. The vertical plates on both are easily removable, and I often use the bracket with the L-plate off, and put it on when I'm going to be taking photos in portrait on a tripod. BTW, I liked the shape of the accessory grip of the Haoge better than ones I've seen for other 3rd party L-brackets.

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Here's a closer look at the vertical L-plate of the Haoge bracket. You can clearly see the Arca-Swiss flanges and the tab that keeps the rear display from being opened. However, as I said earlier, if you need to use the rear screen, just flip it so it's facing out before installing the L-plate.
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Holoholo33

Rookie
Location
Hawaii
Name
Walter
Thoughts after using both with the 100-400? I just purchased the lens and have a thread open under mFT on DPR regarding aftermarket grip input.
Thanks!

I haven't used the 100-400 with the EM5 III mainly because I have the EM1 III. The grip on the EM1 III is larger and beefier than even the EM5 III with the L-bracket's accessory grip, and I felt having the big grip was necessary when using the 100-400. I've used the 12-100 on the EM5 III with the L-bracket with accessory grip and felt that was a good combination. I felt that both the Haoge and the STC provided useful accessory grips, which enhanced using it with larger lenses. The STC provided even more support with the folding grip extension.
 

Holoholo33

Rookie
Location
Hawaii
Name
Walter
Nice review! Part of me does think at +100g, it's perhaps time to just get a EM1 mk2 as its almost the same size and weight then. Would be cheaper too! Unless of course the oled EVF is the unique selling point for you.
That's true, but when you want to go lighter and smaller, you can take the L-bracket off the EM5 III and voila! Can't do that with an EM1 II. :)
 
Location
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
Let me answer that. The vertical L-plate for the Haoge is an open U shape. See the photo below. The Haoge is the black one in back. The STC FOGRIP for the EM5 III is the silver one in front. The vertical plates on both are easily removable, and I often use the bracket with the L-plate off, and put it on when I'm going to be taking photos in portrait on a tripod. BTW, I liked the shape of the accessory grip of the Haoge better than ones I've seen for other 3rd party L-brackets.

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Here's a closer look at the vertical L-plate of the Haoge bracket. You can clearly see the Arca-Swiss flanges and the tab that keeps the rear display from being opened. However, as I said earlier, if you need to use the rear screen, just flip it so it's facing out before installing the L-plate.
View attachment 339078

Thank you, Walter! This is really helpful. And informative.
And your pictures are even more helpful!
 
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