THE CLONE WARS


THE CLONE WARS - SYSTEM UPGRADE
NON-BRANDED CAMERA BATTERIES
For fifty years I have been involved in batteries in one form or another. And being a Camera dealer and a Battery supplier has taught me a few things.  Caution is one. Repairs from lack of caution are expensive.  Batteries are like tools sold at Sears for years.  Good - Better - Best. Now that Sears is Going-Going Gone look at ACE Hardware for Craftsman under Stanley or Amazon. Better prices.

Camera manufacturers protect their brands by branding their batteries.  Inserting non-OEM batteries into your camera could damage the camera and expounded quite frequently by the manufacturer.  Is he exploiting your dollars and protecting his brand or is it fictitious?

VARIABLES - Some of the bigger concerns about using third party batteries are:

👺    Leakage   
👺    Swelling causing difficulty inserting or removing  
👺    Shorter useful life than OEM equivalent  
👺    Incompatibility with camera and/or OEM charger  
👺    Incompatibility due to firmware updates  
👺    Voiding your camera’s warranty


SOME INFORMATION FROM JOHN SHERMAN - John “Verm” Sherman is one of only 25,000 wildlife and nature photographers based out of Flagstaff, Arizona. In 2012 he was awarded Flagstaff Photography Center’s Emerging Artist of the Year award. He has since submerged into internet notoriety but comes up occasionally to contribute to Arizona Highways Magazine. Visit his website and blog at www.vermphoto.com

Here’s a Watson he took (black label, light green cells) and Wasabi (white labels dark green cells) EN-EL15 broken open. The circuit boards are identical, but the actual cells are indeed different. 

In addition to the weight differences, the mAh rating of the batteries differs. In theory, a battery rated at higher milliamp-hours should give more shots per charge all else being equal. 

Most batteries have a chip in them. This communicates charge info to the camera. It also communicates if it is an OEM battery or not. Both Canon and Nikon have been known to issue firmware updates for their cameras that have disabled third party batteries (the charge meter no longer shows and perhaps other issues). 


SUMMATION 

•  You sometimes? (always) get what you paid for. 

•  All batteries are not created equal. 

•  There are weight differences, and in-consistency of the mash and smaller cells in some.

•  The milliamp-hours (MAH) rating of the batteries differs based on truth, sometimes and who exploits false information. eBay in particular.

•  Some third party manufacturers use better quality cells than others. Some don’t and buy anything they can.

• No camera manufacturer makes their own cells or batteries. Instead they purchase them from a battery manufacturer, just like the third party companies do.  They sublet production of Flash units too.  

•  How good a cell is used has a lot to do with the eventual retail price of the battery, what kind of a deal they got from the warehouse, and did they get what they ordered. After all 90% of this stuff comes from China. I manufacture battery equipment and deal with China and everyday is a new experience. In contracts we specify a 10% failure factor up front. We pay for 100 and get 110.

•  Camera manufacturers warn that inserting non-OEM batteries into my camera could make the camera fail or give you a warning this is not the right battery.  Most batteries have a chip in them. This communicates charge info to the camera. It also communicates if it is an OEM battery or not.  It’s a crapshoot since many of these batteries are off branded by an eBay seller, they found a like to Euro distributors, got a good deal from an exporter, and so forth.

•  Both Canon and Nikon and possibly SONY have been known to issue firmware updates for their cameras that have disabled third party batteries (the charge meter no longer shows and perhaps other issues). This is no guarantee that a future update might not knock them out.

•  Wasabi batteries (Bluebook) worked batteries were OK.   Now I’m seeing some swelling after 16 months.  As well they are properly chipped so the camera display shows how much charge is left and how many shots were taken on the charge, just like with the OEM batteries.  I haven’t had issues charging the Wasabi and Watson batteries in the SONY chargers.

•  Weight is a clue, it has a lot to do with the eventual retail price of the battery.  One difference of note is that the weight differs by age and can differ by production run. This indicates what cells were purchased for that run.

SONY NP-FW50 battery weighs 1.4 oz.  @ 1020 MAH   (All three weighed the same) and the same voltage.
WASABI BTR-FW50-JWP battery weighs 1.6 oz. @1300 MAH, 
WASABI BTR-FW50-JWP battery weighs 1.5 oz. @1300 MAH,  Swollen 6/16 Charged but swollen
WASABI BTR-FW50-JWP battery weighs 1.3.5 oz. @1300 MAH, Swollen 6/16 - Ditto

RAVPOWER RP-PB056 battery also weighs 1.6 oz. 1100 MAH


MY TEST STATION: 

PART ONE VOLTAGE-

This is how I maintain my batteries-
I use a standard test meter, you can get them free at Harbor Freight at times with purchase and coupon,  or spend 15-30 dollars and get a good GF, or a KLEIN, many available on Amazon. So you need the following and you can use it on all camera batteries and a million other things.  READ the manual that comes with the meter. 

  1. Meter - Your Choice
  2. Find extra cables with the ends as shown.   Cables for each module we’ll build, also find them on the web.
  3. A battery charging module from one that went bad or a spare you don’t trust. They are on the web and cheap.
  4. Send me the mess with return postage.  It’s a freebie.  I’ll test it, disassemble it, solder the leads,  and then mail it back to you.
  5. The purpose is safety and accuracy for this tool. It’s too easy to cross the wires and short the battery plus getting a good connection for accuracy is important.
  6. It will work on Nikon and Canon stuff too, I have SONY.


PART TWO - SWELLING
I use a simple Digital Caliper and measure them. A good SONY, relatively new measures 1840mm in thickness.  The swollen WASABI measured 1971 mm.  That will jam in the camera. I used to use the old Mark One Eyeball but the inexpensive digital works a lot better and doesn’t fool you.


PART THREE - EXTRA POWER CHARGING
The Tenergy Lithium battery charger is excellent for topping of all Lithium cells within it range limits.  I built several ends pieces as all are not the same for all sizes of SONY’S. It also took a few cells that needed a little refreshing back.


LOOK-A-LIKES

The Watson, Flashpoint, Ravpower and Wasabi batteries look like they are the same battery but with different labels. The Sony has a embedded halo-logo. The others have slight differing mold cuts.  Very slight weight difference suggested otherwise. One way to find out.  You weigh them.  Do not cut them open.

Technically,  some popular sizes like for Nikon and Canon might be clones of clones.  Again since rules are loose in China, when one understands QC does not stand for Quality Control, it might stand for Queer Crap.  Like the old INTEL chips, the chips were made and the subjected to testing to determine the megahertz values.  Some capped at 60, some at 80 and some at 120, then they were stamped appropriately.   Batteries are the same selling theology and the poorer examples might  go out with a different label and to a different distribution network.  Nothing gets wasted in CHINA and nothing is excluded by dumping.

Generally the heavier battery in theory might contain more mash, the compost of chemical electrons.  In addition to the weight differences, the MAH rating of the batteries differs. In theory, a battery rated at higher milliamp-hours should give more shots per charge all else being equal. 

A relative newcomer came on the scene sold by Amazon and I pitched the last one out last week totally dead all four.  It was named "SPOT". Good name, like my friends dog Spot,  they all took a crap.

Amazon no longer "cells" them. ( Pun intended)

Because the OEM batteries last longer, they are more economical if you shoot a lot. If you shoot sparingly you might find the Wasabi and others to be adequate. 

I build these systems for sONY but they work on all 7.2/8/4 systems and if you buy the parts and drop ship to me, I ‘ll build one for you.

The factory SONY charger plate both charges the SONY and tests the SONY.