Aftermarket batteries for Olympus: what is good today?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by budeny, Oct 17, 2016.

  1. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    I had decent experience with Wasabi branded BLN-1's - they lasted 1.5 years and still doing fine.
    But latest reviews on Amazon show some issues with them.
    So, what's is good nowadays?
    DSTE, Progo, Watson, you name it?

    Main objective is the effective weight per charge, for backpacking.
    Or should I just get a USB charger and use it with power bank? I know efficacy will be bad due to multiple voltage conversions, but 16000 mAh is 320 g and BLN1 is 50 g. Even accounting it for 10000 effective mAh, it is still good for 8x1200 mAh charges...
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
  2. ahinesdesign

    ahinesdesign Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 6, 2011
    NC, USA
    I have used Power2000 and DSTE batteries and found them to be good but not last as long as OEM batteries in use, even with higher capacity ratings. I have had another third-party brand (Progo? Can't remember exactly now...) that quickly lost their ability to hold a charge for very long. If you need as much reliability and run time as possible, go OEM.

    I have tried charging camera batteries from USB power banks and found them to work ok, but have never been able to get the theoretical number of charges from the power bank, while charge time is longer. Could be the power bank capacity has fallen after a number of cycles, or efficiency is much lower than calculated - or both. For the weight, I would rather carry extra charged camera batteries (OEM) over some kind of method to recharge in the field.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
    • Agree Agree x 2
  3. pogipoints

    pogipoints Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 6, 2015
    Neil M
    Got a pair of Progo batts, didn't last a few months and now don't last for more than 50 shots. Also have Wasabi batts that don't really last too long, maybe less than 200 shots.

    I'm now using Watson batteries from B&H, lasts about as long as my OEM batt, 400 shots or more. Pretty pleased with this brand.
  4. astrostl

    astrostl Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 4, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    Justin Honold
    Call me crazy, but I bought an actual BLN-1 as a spare for my E-M1.

    I don't need 4+ batteries for my use cases, and I'm more concerned about reliability and safety.
  5. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    IMHO there are far more battery brands than there are battery manufacturers. Your first "Wasabi" branded battery may well have been made by a different company than the second one. The other brands may well all come from the same factories as the Wasabis or from different ones. Hard to tell. I just buy whatever is cheap and have had generally good luck with all of them and never a DOA.

    That said, there was a long battery thread here a while back and for me it ended with sending all my batteries to an MU-43 member who had sophisticated battery testing equipment at his work. One battery was nearly dead and the other aftermarket batteries had about 80% of the capacity of the OEM batteries I included in the sample set. My conclusion was that the far cheaper aftermarket batteries were very cost-effective even if capacity was slightly lower. But as @ahinesdesign@ahinesdesign suggests, if you're willing to pay the price the OEM batteries will probably save you a few ounces for the same number of milliamp-hours capacity.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Brian Beezley

    Brian Beezley Mu-43 All-Pro

    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  7. PhotoDmiK

    PhotoDmiK Mu-43 Regular

    May 26, 2015
    You cant directly compare mAh for not matching voltages. Power banks are ranked for 3.7-4.1V. You'll get less than 5 full charges.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. Giiba

    Giiba Something to someone somewhere

    Aug 19, 2016
    New Westminster, BC
    I ordered a Wasabi 2 pack plus charger from Blue Nook in California, and so far so good.

    Blue Nook - Home of Wasabi Power Batteries

    OEM batteries charge to a slightly higher voltage (8.6v vs 8.4v) and last slightly longer (10%'ish) from my testing. The Wasabi charger will charge OEM to the lower voltage (8.4v), but the OEM charger won't charge the Wasabi batteries.
  9. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Yes. You need to compare stored watt-hours. So miliampere-hours x nominal voltage /1000. Completely hypothetical example: 10000 ma-h @ 5 volts is 50 watt-hours. If I was estimating to run a charger from this source I would assume no more than 50% efficiency-- so I'd guess at 25 watt-hours might actually get into the batteries being charged. From the paper specs the BLN-1 is 7.6 volts, 1220 mh hours, so just over 9 watt-hours. Maybe three charges from that hypothetical source.

    Another way to look at that 50% estimate is to estimate power source weight. To get the estimated three charges into the camera batteries, the power source would have to weigh twice as much as the camera batteries. (Assuming both use the same battery technology.) That's very rough but you can see that using a power source is likely to involve more weight than just carrying some charged batteries. And that's not even considering the weight of the charger you'd be carrying in order to use the power source.

    An ounce of data trumps a pound of theory, though, so I'd measure carefully the first few times. 50% is a VERY rough guess for the product of voltage conversion inefficiency x battery charging inefficiency.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
    • Agree Agree x 2
  10. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Oh, and another factor: Aftermarket batteries might be OEM batteries that failed to meet spec at Final Test. This kind of thing happens all the time in the semiconductor industry. At final test, parts are binned according to their performance, then sold with an appropriate spec. If I were an aftermarket supplier, I would be a buyer for batteries that, for example, were guaranteed to 80% of the capacity that the OEMs demanded. Depending on the manufacturer's process yield, those might be quite a bit cheaper. So, ... just another reason why the aftermarket batteries that cheapskates like me buy all the time are a crap-shoot.

    Edit: Here I am using "OEM" to refer to the Original Equipment (aka Camera) Manufacturer. So an "OEM Battery" is one that's branded and sold by the OEM despite the fact that it almost certainly was not manufactured by the OEM. This is consistent with, for example, car parts that are referred to as OEM, sold by the OEM, but manufactured by subcontractors.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
    • Informative Informative x 1
  11. retiredfromlife

    retiredfromlife Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2016
    Sydney, Australia
    I am using Hahnel batteries with no problems and they charge in the Olympus charger
  12. Giiba

    Giiba Something to someone somewhere

    Aug 19, 2016
    New Westminster, BC
    I don't doubt you but I think there is something different about OEM batteries, at least the bln-1.

    I know batteries from the RC world and there lithium cells range from empty at 3.7v (roughly) and full at 4.2v; charging over 4.2v is very dangerous and likely to start a fire. When I test my aftermarket batteries they read as 2 cell batteries so 7.4v empty (camera says "battery exhausted") and 8.4 when fully charged. However the OEM batteries read the same voltage when empty but strangely 8.6v when full, which leaves me thinking they're cells that can be charged to 4.3v.

    I have a quality multimeter so I trust my numbers, plus my testing bears out that the OEM batteries do in fact yeild more shots. It would seem the OEM batteries use a different cell technology.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. dalto

    dalto Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 6, 2016

    Most of those companies source their batteries from different OEMs so you never really know what you are getting. When it comes to aftermarket batteries, past performance is a poor prediction of future results. So as long as the vendor is fairly reputable grab whatever suits your fancy.

    I have pretty much given up on aftermarket batteries at this point. For me, saving a $20/battery isn't worth the hassle and risk.

    EDIT: It seems like we are using the term "OEM" differently which should make this thread interesting to understand.
  14. Giiba

    Giiba Something to someone somewhere

    Aug 19, 2016
    New Westminster, BC
    Only you are using it correctly :biggrin:

    The rest of us mean: genuine Olympus products
  15. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    My first pair of Progo batteries became swollen after over 1 year of use.
    However, they otherwise worked fine so I bought a second pair, without charger, for $16... I've had them well over a year and they're still fine.

    To me, paying 5-10x more for Oly is not worth it, even if they all did only last a year. The Oly were $59.99 ea when I got the first pair with charger for $24.
    I also like that I now can charge two batteries at once.

    Note batteries tend to swell during charging, not during use, so they're unlikely to get jammed in the camera.
  16. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    I beg to differ on that. I had a Maximal Power battery for my Canon EOS T2i that was fine when it went in, but swelled up enough in the camera that it wouldn't slide out. I was lucky to get it out without prying it out. I promptly tossed it. Never had an OEM battery swell up on me.

    I bought an EZOpower for my EM5 and EM1 that seemed to work OK, but never lasted as long as my Olympus batteries. I later bought two more Olympus batteries from B&H for $39.99 each, a $20 savings off the list price. I took the EZOpower out of the line up. I felt they were worth the extra cost for the reliability.
  17. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    I'm just speculating about battery manufacturers binning and then selling from the bins with different specs. In semiconductors it happens all the time but I don't know about batteries. So feel free to doubt.

    Re end voltages, there are several flavors of Lithium Ion battery construction that have different end voltages and require different charger calibration for charging. There's a pretty good table here: Battery Voltage Information – Battery University It may well be that OEM and at least some of the non-OEM batteries are different flavors. In fact it would seem likely.
  18. Machi

    Machi Mu-43 Veteran

    May 23, 2015
    I'm using original BLS-5 and two Duracell DR9964. All of them are working fine, BLS-5 and one DR9964 have been ~75 times recharged without noticeable change in capacity.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. dalto

    dalto Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 6, 2016
    I have never had one get stuck in the camera but nearly every battery I have had swell up has been caused by charging the battery, removing it from the charger and then leaving it in a fully charged state for an extended period of time.
  20. gnarlydog australia

    gnarlydog australia Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 23, 2015
    Brisbane, Australia
    Damiano Visocnik
    while I have been successfully cheapskating for years :rolleyes: with various replacement batteries for most cameras (Canon, Olympus compact, GoPro etc) but I can't do it on the BLN-1 (battery for E-M5, E-M1 and E-P5)
    I tried the el-cheapo ones from evilBay China that can not be charged on the original charger but need the "special one": they work but very poorly and won't work on E-M5, only on E-P5.
    Then I sourced some "chipped" aftermarket BLN-1 that recharge on the Olympus charger. Worked a treat at the beginning and now only half to 1/4 as good as the OEM.
    Now I only use the original BLN-1 Olympus ones, even if I hate to pay the price :mad:
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