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Canon EOS Batteries (BP-511) and their aftermarket clones compared

[editor's note: This is a pre-article, pushed up to the web so the services will index it sooner than later. I intend to publish the results around 6/1/2012]

Canon makes some really awesome DSLR cameras. I've been an EOS user since my first EOS 650 back in 1987 and made the jump into EOS digital when the EOS 20D came on the scene in 2004. From memory, back then a genuine Canon BP-511 Li-ion battery cost somewhere around $45. I just checked today (4/24/2012) and B&H still sells them for $45.95! They sell aftermarket batteries as well, but even those are $24.95/each.

In 2007 I found a couple of after-market batteries from eBay for $11.50 delivered and bought two of them. My thought was "How much life can I get out of them VS. the Canon batteries?" If a Canon battery gives 5 years of normal use and I only get 2 years out of these cheap clones, I'm way ahead buying and throwing away the cheap clones.

They lasted a few years, then around 2010 I noticed they started giving less life than my original Canon battery. When one was bad enough I didn't really want to use it anymore, it became a carcass and was hacked to become a camera draw current meter for another article.

Over the years, I've acquired a few other camera batteries from various sources. Some are genuine Canon, some came with used equipment we purchased and its history and original source was unknown, and others came from direct-to-you sellers off eBay.

Using those on a not so regular basis, we thought we had some batteries with near end-of-life issues, but they could also have been camera issues as described in this article or just differences in how any particular battery is used with an energy hungry lens once VS. a much lower consumption setup another time. What we needed to do is measure all the batteries for their capacity and see if we had some bad apples in the bunch, and get them out of our rotating stock.

Which is what I did (or am doing right now, actually... with final results coming soon!)

In the process, I found some things about some of these aftermarket batteries that I think need to be shouted from the rooftops, or at least the modern day equivalent of that which would be an article on the web.

Click Here for Press Release

Some very early results

Some of these batteries are really quite good - and some are barely half as good as others. This is a snapshot of a discharge curve over time under a constant load showing the voltage drop over time. The X axis represents the number of samples taken at 5 second intervals, the Y axis is the voltage out of the battery under a decent constant resistive load:


I've got a lot of work before the curves really mean anything - like "At what point is the battery no longer usable?" Obviously, when the voltage drops to zero, we are done. But to take two examples above, the light blue (Bat6) and the gold (Bat3) - which really lasts longer? If the camera stops working when the voltage drops below 7, then Bat6 is the winner. If it stops when the voltage drops below 6.25, then the gold is the winner. And it is pretty obvious that Bat5, while usable, gives half the life of other batteries.

Which are Canon batteries, and which are the clones?

I plan to go through all this in detail, probably more than most people want to read. But this first set of discharge curves alone is making me see I have one that needs to be retired for sure, three that are pretty darn good, and a few that are showing signs of age.

I'm hoping the answer to the question "How do those eBay aftermarket Chinese manufactured generic BP-511 batteries compare to those expensive genuine Canon batteries?" pops out of this analysis as well.

More to come!

Like I said above, this is a pre-article so the bots can index the content. If you liked this or have questions, please shoot me an email and say hi! If you ask, I'll keep you informed of any updates - especially when the first set are published. I'm a real person, not some spam gathering email harvesting big corporate junk mail house.

Send me an email to this address which I've setup to collect an interested people list:

eosbatt at dascc dot com.


David Soussan