Road Train !!!!!!!!!!

by Russell McMahon

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I need another LP-E5 type battery for my Canon 450D. Should I buy an original Canon battery or one of the many generic brands available? There are loads of cheapos on eBay, for example.

I should add that the new battery will be added to my existing Canon battery in a battery grip.

Does anyone have any experience (good or bad) of using generic batteries?

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I've been recommended and have bought 50D batteries from sterlingtek.com. So far haven't had any issues. The genuine batteries are just too expensive. –  Nick Bedford Mar 25 '11 at 5:15
    
My question has ben answered thank you. no mor generics for me. –  Hans Quality Photography Nov 1 '11 at 13:05
    
I've used wasabi-power batteries in my Sony NEX-5N for more then a year without issues. I took one apart, and it's pretty decently constructed internally. –  Fake Name Apr 20 '13 at 11:00

19 Answers 19

up vote 29 down vote accepted

One of the easiest choices is to buy brand name batteries. From batch to batch the manufacturer takes quality and performance very seriously. You know and I know that in general there will be no lemons. Generic batteries can be made by any number of manufacturers and they all take on the challenge with different perspectives. And as a result if you were to buy from a e-retailer www.dealextreme.com (which has been selling generic batteries from many manufacturers for years) you'll note that customers leave reviews indicating that one generic marque is better than another. One marque will hold almost as much charge as a Canon/Nikon marque for example.

But because generic battery manufacturers often just copy-cat the design and don't really take special care in being faithful to copying everything, they'll miss something that is non obvious. For example there are several cold weather expeditions to Antartica, mountaineering, and ocean faring where photogs discover generic brands to give out all too quickly, rendering the whole trouble of carrying them moot. They all chimed in wishing they had packed genuine brands. So you can imagine a generic battery maker using thin plastic shields without weather sealing because they could shave off a couple of cents and improve profits--not knowing what they are about to do to some of your most important photographic adventures.

Batteries are also intimately connected to the electronics in your camera, you don't want to be in an uneviable situation where Canon or Nikon disclaim their responsibility to repair your camera because they've discovered that the electronics may be busted due to a generic vertical grip, charger, or battery. That could be quite costly.

But do what you must, and do it smartly. For example, you might have some bust up out of warranty camera you bought at a garage sale and you just need to find some el cheapo battery to go with it. So that you can take out the IR screen of the old busted camera's sensor and do some art projects. No harms done and your wallet won't feel all too much lighter.

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Also, when it comes to things like smart batteries such as the Canon LP-E6, nothing beats a battery that will always charge because it's legitimately designed to work with the charger not "compatible". –  Nick Bedford Jul 29 '11 at 2:34
    
As long as you don't go anywhere to extreme - you can get some good use out of a batch of good clones. But don't take a chance with a special trip. Use the cheap ones day to day and wear them out on normal stuff - save the good ones for special things. –  Xeoncross Jul 29 '11 at 21:11
    
I use high quality generic LP-E6 batteries as well as my genuine Canon ones. They function the same: They charge on the same charger, the camera reads the serial # in the battery, and displays the charge level, number of shots, recharge performance, and remembers the date and charge state the last time each battery was used in the camera. The brand I use are still about 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of Canon OEM. –  Michael Clark May 31 '13 at 18:53

Short:

Clone batteries typically have a somewhat higher early failure rate and generally decline in capacity faster than originals.

Clone mAh capacities are usually no better than or are worse than originals - regardless of what the labels say. The higher the claimed label mAh the more likely it is that the manufacturer and product is suspect.

An unloaded LiIon battery should retain its voltage almost unchanged for long periods - at least many months. Clones and originals should be no different in this respect. Any battery that loses capacity or terminal voltage rapidly when unloaded is highly suspect. Note that some systems place a continuous light load on the battery when in standby or sleep modes.

My experience with clone LiIon batteries is that they are usually somewhat somewhat inferior in lifetime performance than are original batteries BUT that their very much lower price means that they are much better value for money than original batteries.


Longer:

Lithium Ion batteries can have major reliability issues and worst case can "vent with flame'> This is not an explosion but comes somewhat close on occasion. The total energy in the battery is released in a flaming over 10 to 10s of seconds. If this happens inside your camera you'll be needing a new battery, AND a new camera. Repair is unlikely to be a sensible option.

Name brand manufacturers are not immune from such problems. Various 'top' manufacturers have issued recalls of probably millions of laptop LiIon batteries over the last decade. These are numerous horror stories available and graphic youtube videos of laptops and other devices incinerating or having been incinerated.

All that said, I'm an EE and have quite a lot to do with batteries. I have never seen a LiIon battery self destruct out of captivity and do not know anyone personally who has had it happen.

I have purchased 20 to 30 "clone" LiIon batteries for digital cameras in the last 5 + years and am happy to use them.

BUT - if you do have a melt-down, and odds are you won't, if it's a Canon battery you MAY be able to persuade them that they should replace your camera. If it's a Horse-Radish brand battery (as yours are) or some other lesser know Asian brand, then odds are the endor or manufacturer (if known) will be unlikely to replace your camera. Now, it MAY be that I am incorrect in my assumptions re Canon and/or re Horse-Radish. You need to decide the merits of this aspect yourself. It also may be that your insurance policy will cover damage of this sort. Or not. Again, I am happy to use clone batteries and I've never seen or directly heard of any vent-with-flame problems.

PERFORMANCE: Clone batteries usually have larger claimed mAh capacities than original versions. You can pretty much guarantee that they are lying. If they lie about capacity it may not be a good sign re their other business practices :-). While it is possible to get more than typical capacities from a given size of LiIon cell, this is usually done at a cost. If you are making low cost product it's a lot easier and cheaper to print a lying label than to fit in more Li metal or afford and use industry leading edge practices that safely give more capacity.

LiIon batteries have two main capacity loss mechanisms. They lose capacity with each discharge / charge cycle of use, and they have a "calendar life" where they slowly lose capacity "just setting" even if unused.

My experience with clone LiIon camera batteries (mainly for various Minolta and Sony DSLRs) is that initial capacity is about the same as original, they may lose capacity with use somewhat faster than originals, and they tend to have a noticeably shorter calendar life.
That said, value for money they usually give far more accumulated total mAh capacity per $ than original batteries. Overall they are VERY substantially better value for money than original batteries and I am happy to use them and have never had any problems with them.

Most clone batteries that I have met have not suffered catastrophic failures in capacity or lifetime. However, some brands of clone batteries have a certain percentage of their batteries fail totally after a very short time or lose capacity at a very high rate. Some sellers, even on auction sites such as ebay will replace batteries that fail or fall well below specification within a short period. Those who do usually offer 6 months warranty. You need to determine the policy and credibility of your vendor. I usually buy from a vendor who I know is of absolute integrity (a retired surgeon who sells photo gear as a retirement hobby). He will tell you the likelihood that a given brand will fail and will unquestioningly replace any that fail catastrophically. Odds are your vendors will be a little less inspired than he is - but do check.

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Now this really great answer will be forever disjointed from the duplicate that this will likely be closed under. :( –  dpollitt Apr 20 '13 at 15:33
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I can merge it. –  jrista Apr 20 '13 at 16:40
    
@dpollitt - words mixed the meaning clear somewhat, to me :-). System functionality the doing of oblivious I to. –  Russell McMahon Apr 21 '13 at 3:49
    
The StirlingTek 2200mAh BP-511A generics I used in my 50D did in fact last about twice as long per charge as the 1390mAh OEM BP-511A supplied by Canon with the camera. –  Michael Clark May 31 '13 at 19:03
    
@MichaelClark - I'll have to look for StirlingTek batteries for my cameras :-). I'm genuinely impressed that anyone managed to get that much gain on a battery sourced by a reputable supplier. Do you know how cycle lifetimes compared? –  Russell McMahon Jun 3 '13 at 2:37

I use MaximalPower LP-E6 batteries in my 7D and 5DII. They function exactly the same in every respect as the Canon LP-E6 batteries that came with the cameras. They charge on the same charger, the camera reads the serial # in the battery, and displays the charge level, number of shots, recharge performance, and remembers the date and charge state the last time each battery was used in the camera. In the past I also used SterlingTek batteries for my Rebel XTi and 50D. The SterlingTek NB2LH and BP-511A were every bit as good as the Canon batteries for those cameras. The 2200mAH SterlingTek BP-511As lasted much longer than the Canon 1390mAH originals.

According to the maker of MaximalPower batteries, Amazon.com is the only authorized reseller.

Maximal Power, Sold and Shipped by Amazon Direct, do not buy from any other 3rd party Sellers as products may be counterfeit. The Amazon.com is only legal distributor for maximal power. Japan Cell Rechargeable Lthium-Ion battery for Canon Digital Camera/Camcorder, LPE6, LP-E6, fits Canon EOS 7D, 60D, 5D Mark II. Made with Info-Chip, Fully Decoded, Use same as original OEM. Shows time on LCD and charges by Canon Charger Compatible Models: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EOS 7D, Canon EOS 60D. Maximal power is trusted for its true capacities and high reliability, we back our products for 3 years warranty and 1 million us dollar liability insurance. Fully decoded battery, read and recognized by your cameras.

You can currently (2/17/13) buy a two pack of MaximalPower LP-E6 batteries at amazon.com for 1/2 the price of a single Canon LP-E6.

There are many counterfeit batteries out in the marketplace. Some of them are visually very good copies of genuine Canon batteries, so if you're not buying through an authorized retail channel the chances are good even the "Genuine Canon" batteries are fakes. For this reason I buy neither Canon nor generic camera batteries via E-Bay.

I also tried some of the really cheap generic versions for the XTi and had less than stellar results. They didn't last as long per charge and didn't last as many charge/discharge cycles before they would no longer take a full charge.

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I got an extra battery as a "package deal" when I purchased my 450D a few years back. I also got an extra 3rd party battery when I purchased my 60D as an upgrade.

You see, for the 450D, you can pop the cheapo battery into the Canon charger.

For DSLR newer than the 450D, 60D for example, you cannot do that and you have to use the charger that came with it.

So you end up carrying two chargers for two batteries.

Secondly, the original battery of the 450D has worked very well throughout the years, so did the 3rd party battery. However, recently I have noticed that the cheapo battery has developed a strange bulge on its case. I tested it, it still works, however it looks like it is going to explode or something. I am not even worried of it breaking my camera. I just kept thinking about those smartphone explosions incident where the victim lost a finger or something, you know?

In the end I threw that battery away, it served me well but given the choice I would buy a Canon battery.

For newer models its a no brainer. Take my 60D for example, I cannot even check how many percent do I have left on the cheapo battery. Having to carry a separate charger is also just stupid. The last thing I want is a battery that looks like its gonna explode 3 or 4 years down the road.

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The higher quality generic versions of the LP-E6 battery are chipped and function just like the Canon originals. They charge on the same charger, the camera reads the serial # in the battery, displays the charge level, number of shots, recharge performance, and remembers the date and charge state the last time each battery was used in the camera. –  Michael Clark Feb 17 '13 at 23:23

I have 3 generic and one Canon for my 450D. Two years later, the generic ones still work, the Canon died.

I've never found any difference between them other than the Canon one dying (and well, all batteries die eventually, I'm not saying generics are better because of this).

I spent about $5 per generic battery on ebay including delivery... frankly I can't see why I'd spend $50-100 on Canon ones when the generics are essentially identical.


A year later, having since bought a Canon 7D (with 1 Canon & 2 non-chipped generic batteries) I'm experiencing the reverse. Both my generics have basically given up (one has about half the life of the Canon, the other is basically useless). I ended up buying a second Canon battery for about $80.

The generic 7D batteries are a bit more expensive ($15-20) than the generic 450D batteries, and my own budget has improved a bit, so the choice was less clear cut, not to mention the extra hassle/bag-space of having to have two chargers (one for chipped, one for generic non-chipped batteries). There are now generic, chipped 7D batteries though, so there's not so much difference anymore...

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I use MaximalPower LP-E6 batteries as well as the Canon originals that came with my 7D and 5DII. There is no difference (other than 1/4 to 1/3 the price): They charge on the same charger, the camera reads the serial # in the battery, displays the charge level, number of shots, recharge performance, and remembers the date and charge state the last time each battery was used in the camera. –  Michael Clark Feb 17 '13 at 23:34
    
Good to hear, I think I just got dud generics for the 7D. Now that I think about it, the ND filters I got with them were neither neutral nor the 3 stops claimed. And the battery grip with LCD/programmable timer didn't work in some basic configurations. So I think that experience says more about 'Link Delight' than generic batteries in general. If/when my Canon batteries fail, I'll try some chipped generics like the MaximalPower ones. –  drfrogsplat Feb 22 '13 at 2:42

I've always bought both OEM and 3rd party batteries in the past to compare and see what is a better value. The answer to this question does vary a bit depending on what 3rd party/generic battery in particular that you are talking about. Some perform better, some worse. I personally use the Amazon reviews as a signal to how many people have had success or not.

Some people argue that 3rd party batteries are a bad idea. I ask, how does it make sense to buy a $60 item if a $15 functions and performs identically or nearly identically? I can purchase FOUR $15 items for the price of one $60 item. If the battery performance is even 50% of the OEM(which it is much much higher typically), then I am by far getting more value out of the 3rd party battery. If battery changes and maximum battery output is of utmost importance because you are on an expedition in Antarctica, then go for it, spend the extra $45 per unit. But for the majority of people, switching out a battery isn't going to make a whole lot of difference 20 shots earlier or 20 shots later.

Some arguments that I have heard inlcude; "You spend $X,XXX on other equipment, why shouldn't you spend it on this?" doesn't make any sense to me, but I'm sure Canon loves to hear that. I don't throw out money on unnecessary accessories just because I like to see the Canon label or packaging. Performance, utility, and price matter to me - of which I have always found in 3rd party offerings.

Another argument is that 3rd party batteries have a risk of starting a fire or exploding. Guess what, this happens with OEM batteries too! With any battery like this you don't want it to get too hot, and you want to regularly inspect it's physical condition. If you see it bulging, no matter the brand, throw it out/recycle it.

Finally a third argument depends on the support that your camera has for 3rd party batteries, and even the battery in particular you are trying to use with it. Just because the battery fits into the battery slot and provides power, does not mean that the battery will provide all of the same information to the camera, such as capacity, cycles, or serial number data. These can be nice to have, but all of them aren't always requirements or even important to all users.

Overall, I think many times the savings is clearly worth it. It depends on your budget and requirements for shooting though. For me, I'd rather stick an extra 4 generic/3rd party batteries in my bag then 1 OEM/Canon battery. In my experience that has been a much greater value.

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I am a generic battery user and have had great experiences with them, but I would caution that you have to do some homework and know what you are buying. Some budget battery manufactures have better quality control than others, so read reviews of the manufactures and stick with the more popular sellers.

The other thing to watch out for is that recently camera manufactures have been encoding serial numbers via a microchip in their batteries to make it harder for 3rd parties to make compatible batteries. Of course this hasn't stopped anything, but make sure you get the right kind of battery. There is one gotcha: this does have one side effect, if you have a battery grip with 2 of the same brand generic battery (with the same generic serial number) - the camera may only see it as one battery or not function properly.

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My generic LP-E6 batteries each have a unique serial number. They function just like the Canon versions: They charge on the same charger, the camera reads the serial # in the battery, and displays the charge level, number of shots, recharge performance, and remembers the date and charge state the last time each battery was used in the camera. –  Michael Clark Feb 17 '13 at 23:29

I bought a Sony DSC-P7 digital camera in 2001. In 2010 the original batteries were shot (Li-ion batteries slowly die over time, no matter what). I bought cheap aftermarket batteries as a replacement. After just a few uses, the camera stopped working. Was it the batteries? I'll never know. I will say that I'm sticking to OEM in the future. I'd rather spend more and have my peace of mind, if nothing else.

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Welcome to Photo.StackExchange! Thanks for sharing your experience. I wouldn't buy aftermarket batteries after an experience like that, either! –  drewbenn Dec 29 '11 at 8:20

I've only had one experience buying a generic battery (for an older Canon dslr), and when I purchased it, I paid about 1/3 the price of a Canon battery. It's been consistent over the years in that it literally lasts 1/3 the time of a Canon battery. You get what you pay for, and though I'd be willing to research generic batteries more, I'd have to see a good case for a generic one! I was very disappointed with mine and feel that it's too risky (depending on the situation) to invest in just generics. Just be careful and read reviews/get information from many different sources!

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I used generic BP-511 batteries from Sterlingtek.com in my Canon 20D, 40D, and 5D for 6 years. They were $11, and most outlasted the $60 Canon brand batteries. In the last order of 4 batteries I bought 2 were defective. I couldn't get them to hold much of a charge. I probably bought about a dozen over the years, and all but those 2 worked great.

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I wouldn't go with generic batteries as there is too much of risks related to them even when you might get 3 generic batteries for the cost of the one original battery. Canon (and other electronics manufacturers) clearly indicate that you are out of luck if you can used batteries made by other manufacturers than the original.

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I had a super cheap non-Canon battery in my 400D and it was as good as the Canon one.

But I wouldn't trust a sample of 1 if I were you ;)

Although you mention in the details you have a 450D, I'll add an answer to the generic Canon question for others that may read this.

For some Canon cameras (such as the 7D) the battery holds special information regarding battery life and requires a special charger. The non-Canon versions don't support this and need a different charger. This means you may need to carry two chargers and also not have the battery life indicator on the screen.

Just something else to consider.

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You can get decoded third party LP-E6 batteries that give the same information. –  Ron Warholic Nov 12 '10 at 18:12
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I use high quality generic LP-E6 batteries as well as my genuine Canon ones. They function the same: They charge on the same charger, the camera reads the serial # in the battery, and displays the charge level, number of shots, recharge performance, and remembers the date and charge state the last time each battery was used in the camera. The brand I use are still about 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of Canon OEM. –  Michael Clark Feb 17 '13 at 23:40

I had no problem with Ansmann batteries for 350D and 30D. When I got 5D Mark II, only off-brand batteries I could find were not fully electronically compatible and had to be charged in a special charger. That made me go with original LP-E6.

So I'd say if you have a reputable (e.g. not Chinese eBay) off-brand battery that fully works, there no reason to avoid it.

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There are fully compatible generics available for the Canon LP-E6. They charge on the same charger, the camera reads the serial # in the battery, and displays the charge level, number of shots, recharge performance, and remembers the date and charge state the last time each battery was used in the camera. –  Michael Clark Feb 17 '13 at 23:25

Amazon has the LP-E5 for $39.99 USD. To me, after buying a $500+ camera, a $40 second battery is a no brainer.

I still have the original BP-511a that I purchased for $70 from Canon for my 20D in 2005 (it's now in my 40D), and I purchased a second LP-E6 for $79 for my 5D Mark II. In nearly 5 years of shooting, I've spent a total of $149 for camera batteries.

I would consider buying a 3rd party battery if it was from a reputable brand, like energizer, or duracell etc.

The amount of money you save, vs how often you replace 1st party batteries, vs the chance of faulty generics damaging your equipment or worse starting a fire, make the decision easy.

Think of it this way, the added price is an insurance policy. If the canon brand batteries do damage your body (unlikely), you have a recourse with Canon. Good luck trying to get any help with chinese knock-off batteries sold on ebay.

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+1 on reputable brand, but Energizer and Duracell are really only dominant in the alkaline world; in li-ion, a different set of manufacturers are the reputable brands. Who they are and whether E & D are also members of that set, I don't know. –  Reid Jul 24 '10 at 18:04
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@Alan: "If the canon brand batteries do damage your body (unlikely), you have a recourse with Canon." Really? Canon will fix an off-warranty camera for free if a Canon original battery damages it? Where does they say this? Are you call an insurance policy something that doesn't exist? Thanks. –  William C Aug 31 '11 at 15:09
    
@WilliamC if your camera is damaged because of a manufacturing defect in the battery, they have a legal requirement to repair or replace the camera. This has nothing to do with the camera's warranty. –  jwenting Nov 1 '11 at 13:18
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@jwenting: Where do they say this? A legal requirement in what jurisdiction? I cannot find it. All I see they say is that they have no liability regarding damages caused by their products. Thanks. –  William C Nov 3 '11 at 17:54

I can't speak for Canon cams, but in the Nikon world generally one should stick with Nikon brand batteries. Particularly for the batteries from eBay, sometimes one gets a battery which is fine and of essentially the same quality as the Nikon batteries, and sometimes it's wretched junk. There's no way to tell. Poor-quality Li-ion batteries also run the (very small, to be true) risk of fire & explosion. For me, the trade-off wasn't worth the savings even though I do feel ripped off buying Nikon batteries.

I wouldn't buy any batteries at all on eBay since there's a very large number of counterfeit Nikon batteries floating around.

I assume the situation is similar in Canon-land.

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+1 pointing out many "genuine" batteries on eBay are fakes. –  Michael Clark Feb 17 '13 at 23:38

I've been using an Olympus BP-511-compatible battery in my 300D, 20D and 30D for two or three years now, and I've been very happy with it.

I should note, it's not super cheap — it was $40 or $50 — but still much cheaper than the $90 that a legit Canon battery cost.

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I've always been loyal to buying Canon's own batteries, as I've seen the damage that counterfeit lithium batteries have done to a friend's laptop. Of course, this is unlikely with third party batteries (and you've got to be fairly unlucky with a counterfeit one), but why risk £1000 worth of camera body for the sake of saving £25?

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In the last 6 years I owned several Pentax and Nikon DSLRs and batteries, original and generics.

For any cam I owned I bough original batteries as well as generics. Usually, generic batteries worked great ... in the first few months. After those they tended to let me down, sometimes quickly.
Worst case was one shoot where two generic batteries both died after 60-80 pictures. Lucky me I still had one original spare battery which lastet long enough for the situation.

I tried different generics, with varying results. I time-Lapse-Experiments, where I took thousands of pictures over weeks I got to know my batteries quite well, and was a bit annoyed that the nearly new generics only gave about 2/3rds of the pictures than my original Nikon batteries, especially since these generics had not been that cheap (half price of the original).
Funny thing is, I never noticed the generics did not last as long as the original until I counted the shots.

So, it depends. obviously I got no clue how good original Canon batteries are, nor do I know each and every generic brand. Still I trust them not very far, and would not bet money on any of my generic batteries (meaning I'd always make sure to have more than enough spare batteries on any important shoot, preferable original ones - I use the generics for lesser important stuff).

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2/3s the performance at half the price, that's a deal, I think. I myself bought a NB-5L clone for $2.75 from China this week, including delivery. If it lasts more than one-twentieth of the lifetime of an original battery ($60), I think I'm better off. –  William C Aug 31 '11 at 15:20
    
2/3rds at the start. I had generic batteries work for a few month, then surprisingly dying one day after mere 60 shots. This is extremely embarrasing when it happens on a job (and when else would you need your spares anyway) and might even cause a need for a reshoot, which might cost a few thousand bucks (if possible, think about wedding photography). –  Sam Sep 1 '11 at 7:18
    
I've had OEM Canon batteries that stopped taking a charge long before the generics for the same camera. –  Michael Clark May 31 '13 at 18:56

I have mixed Canon and Ansmann batteries for my 5D, and had no problems at all.

Remember that you still won't get more than you pay for, so if the batteries are really cheap, they will probably not hold the specified capacity and/or wear out quicker.

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