Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A battery is a battery

In June I'm taking 15 keen photographers to South Africa and Botswana on a photography and wildlife tour. Lucky me!

There's much talk about what gear to take and of course the need for spare camera batteries has been raised as we plan to stay in at least two bush camps which are miles from the nearest Dirk Smuts store (that's the Botswanian equivalent of Dick Smith). This got me thinking about buying spare and replacement batteries for the trip. Buying branded replacements is an expensive business. But, for the budget-conscious, there's a staggering number of generic alternatives available. 
For example:

Canon lists its standard LP-E6 battery (for the EOS 5D Mk3) at $95rrp. offers a genuine LP-E6 for $89
It also advertises a generic version of the LP-E6 for just $39
On eBay I found another genuine LP-E6 costing only $65 advertises a generic LP-E6 for $37.95
But the deals get better.
Online retailers in China, Hong Kong and the US all offer (generic) LP-E6 batteries at prices ranging from a crazy $9 (now that is suspicious), to a more expensive $35...

Are they any good? Is there a risk using these cheap batteries?

A few years ago I was shown (by Canon) a few pretty scary photos of batteries that had exploded in the battery compartment - some had literally blown the compartment door off - but I suspect these incidents are relatively few and far between - otherwise we'd have heard more about it in the press. I took a closer look at the specs and discovered that not all the generic batteries could be recharged using the original OEM charger, meaning you need to buy a new battery charger for that particular generic battery.  This is more a bother than an expense.  There are several generic charger/battery combos advertised for around $12.  
Genuine Canon LP-E6 batteries store electronic information plus an electrical charge. Once in the camera, you can monitor battery level plus shots left.  The internal chip permits users to register up to 6 batteries so you can monitor power levels at all times. If you buy a generic, I think it needs to be one that also displays battery status in the camera. Otherwise you might get stuck in the wilderness somewhere with little idea how much power is left in the battery. Not all generics have that capability. That said, batteries seen on eBay are clear if this information is relayed to the camera, or not.

Note that several generics display different specs to the original Canon version: some have 7.2volt or 7.4volt ratings but more importantly come with 1800mAh, 2200mAh and 2400mAh ratings. The higher this number, the longer it's going to hold its charge. Canon specs are for a 7.2v, 1800mAh battery.

I finally tracked down this website ( that advertises cheap electronics (sourced from HK and China). BUT most importantly it also features user reviews so you can glean information about the products you might be interested in from people that have already made the purchase. Buying from eBay is OK but most of the time there are no user reviews on the product (but plenty of reseller reviews).

At A$20.50 each, I bought four for the cost of one 'genuine' Canon LP-E6
The bottom line with (these) generic camera batteries is simple.
You pay a quarter of the price of the OEM product for a product that's seemingly identical to the original
(i.e. $20 versus an rrp of $90). I think most people can accept that...

My four generic LP-E6 batteries arrived OK - the free postage took three weeks to get to Australia - and, surprise, surprise, the batteries work exactly the same as the genuine Canon LP-E6 cells. Each produces more than 1200 shots per charge - the same as my original Canon batteries.  A bargain...

1 comment:

  1. Looking for a Camera Battery? Shop Online for at Ordernow for huge savings on Camera Batteries from Canon, Inca and other top brands!